Some things that appear to be different from home:
a) people just about never eat alone--they are very gregarious. Restaurants hardly know what to do with me.
b) dog doo and trash is everywhere; people throw stuff from cars.
c) national holidays are associated with specific political parties.
d) outsides often look modest; insides of places are great.
e) homes seem to have many framed paintings or sketches on the wall.
f) most doors are closed at school and students have to knock and queue up--even for dept offices. It might be in honor of air conditioning, the high number of part-timers, or the fact that classes really haven't started. So, I must wait to further evaluate this observation. LATER-- Classes started and mine is the only open door when I don’t have air conditioning on. I was locked in last night. Fortunately someone in another building was around and called security for me (I didn’t have the number, but I’ll get it for future reference). For some reason I am not authorized for a building key. That is not all bad-- zero chance I’ll be tempted to go to the office in the evenings or on weekends.
g) students do not engage in extracurricular activities much (hypothesis: they spend time with family and friends if they have time).
h) quite a few young adults seem to live with parents until they marry--even into the late 20s. But this is increasingly common in the US.
i) university education is tuition-free and students even get small stipends for living and books. This does not increase their desire to study (smile).
j) generally speaking [N=9], food is excellent in restaurants, but wine matching has yet to catch up with the food. In Houghton, the same could be said about wine matching, but only a few of the restaurants in town match what I'm finding here on the food count.
k) the drinking age is 16; the driving age is 18. I used that comparison in discussing jurisdiction in international law—states can prescribe rules and apply them to anyone in their territory. My IMLI students asked if the US embassy in Malta would serve drinks to a 17 year old. I said I didn’t know, but I seriously doubted it. Fun question.
l) Maltese are known for their tax evasion.
Things that seem similar
a) family matters
b) there is a serious lack of signage (Michigan Tech only recently fixed this, I still get lost driving at home now and then on back roads)
c) the local beer is good
d) food costs are very similar to Houghton (but the fruits and veggies are much more wonderful here)
e) everyone is friendly and helpful--I have even managed to get help from the bus drivers (who are known for in-your-face gruffness). People have been overwhelmingly generous with their time and help to me. Tech is very friendly, too.
f) people love dogs
g) there is a lot of entrepreneurial behavior..but it "feels" different, somehow, from home. Perhaps I'll do a reflection on it in a few months.
h) faith matters (Malta is virtually all Catholic--there was a mass at the opening of the public university, a point that should go up in the different category)