Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Misc. photos

Here are photos I've never posted, but like.

Ship: On way to Buckingham Palace
Flowers: On way to beach at Portobello, Scotland
Beach: Scotland
Dog: Malta
Building: Malta

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Edinburgh--Portobella sunset

Edinburgh, is far north (as near as I can tell, its latitude is roughly that of Kodiak Island, Alaska). So it stayed light very late and got light very early. Around 1o:30 pm I walked the two blocks down to the beach from our B&B to catch the sunset. I wandered around for a half an hour or so, but never did see it actually set.

Edinburgh botanical garden

We always try to find a local botanical garden on our trips. I regret that when we were in London, we did not get out to Kew. Maybe next time. But, we did go to one in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh cruise

We went for a cruise so that Don could take photos of famous bridges and I could look at birds, seals, an old monastery, and whatnot. Ok, I liked the bridges, too.


After a few days in London, we flew up to Edinburgh. London was exciting, but I preferred Scotland. What a nice city. We stayed at Abercorn B&B in the Portobello area (sunset pictures in another post).

A few photos-Don in front of our B&B, the rest from the trip to the castle.

London 2--cruise on Thames

London 1

Don joined me in London. We'd been to Britain before, but had never been to London, believe it or not. We stayed at Sanctuary House. Small rooms, but fabulous tourist location and moderate prices for London. We were in sight of Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral. 4-5 blocks from Buckingham Palace, half a block from a tube station, and the New Scotland Yard was around the corner (the one you see on TV all the time--with the rotating sign).

We did a little cruise on the Thames down to the tower bridge.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I've been back home for nearly two weeks. Re-entry has been easier than I expected, but it still comes in fits and starts. I was far more overwhelmed by the commercialism and the pathetic state of TV when I visited in May than I am this time. We've had some very pretty days here (sort of like April in Malta weather-wise), but also many days of clouds and rain. I find I get slightly "down" when the clouds are around more than a day--I must have caught this from Malta.

I've been trying to find the equivalents here to things I liked in Malta. I drive far more, but I've also been walking for odds and ends to nearby small shops. I volunteered to read to children at my local library, though they've never gotten back to me. I even checked on walking dogs at the local humane society (but not yet acted upon the information; I may just offer to walk two neighbor dogs). We have bought a clothes line, but it's not set up yet. I planted rocket in the garden and hope I'll get some before the first frost. It's just poking up now.

My eating habits seem quite changed and much to the better. I produced a quick dish of mozzarella, onion, fresh basil, two colors of tomato, oregano and olive oil. My husband looked at it and said, "Wow, you must have eaten at some great places in Malta, this is plated so well." It was pretty, come to think of it.

There was a piano in my apartment in St. Paul's Bay that I played virtually everyday. I was teaching myself and will soon need to take lessons to avoid learning very bad habits. Last week we drove down to Green Bay and bought a piano. It's going to be delivered soon, so I'm painting the living room. The room was in dire need of change, and this was an excellent excuse. It's a cream color-- I think the Maltese color palette must have been burned into my brain. To keep up with my decision to have more "social life," I'm planning to have a piano-warming party with a collection of friends who don't normally interact.

I'm starting to get requests for talks about Malta. My first "gig" is Rotary in Aug. I've decided to give that club the Rotary banner the La Vallette Rotary gave me when I talked to them back in April. I may also join the organization. I will eventually give a talk on campus. Maybe I'll get other requests.

On further reflection about the impact of the Fulbright, I've decided that living abroad for a more extended time has the effect of magnifying one's strengths and weaknesses. It also shifts the unclear, middling things more clearly to either strength or weakness. I will never have a neat home or office, a weakness that was only mitigated by my wonderful housekeeper in Malta. In the "middling range" I am quite willing to eat and behave in healthier ways that I was. So I'm hoping that set of behaviors has moved more decisively to the strengths side. I was always a sound teacher. All the different kinds of teaching I did on my Fulbright has enhanced that strength.

Last, I've been turning ideas around in my head for an article about globalization and power. I want to use Malta as the way to frame the article. All the flows of globalization--good and bad--hit the country. It's more obvious in Malta than in the US. The way Malta uses its power as a "micro state" are thus more apparent and interesting.

As soon as I find my cord for downloading photos to my computer, I'll put some pictures up of London and Edinburgh.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Good-bye Malta

Goodbye Malta

I leave for the US tomorrow. My Fulbright “year” is over. I have so enjoyed this time in Malta that I am sad to go, but glad I’ll be with my husband again. I'll keep this blog going for a while--add some pictures and further thoughts, show you some electronic pictures of my home up on Lake Superior, etc.

I am happy to say that I will be back in Malta and at the university for a few weeks next year and will be helping the university grow its international master’s degree programs with US schools. I think a few of the ideas for Michigan Tech-University of Malta collaborations may take hold. And, as I understand it, some Michigan Tech students will be coming to the University of Malta for “study abroad.” As we get more folks from my US university over to this country, we’ll form a “Friends of Malta” group to talk about the experience and think about new ways to relate to this country.

Everyone asks what I liked least and what I liked most.
Long term, I pray Malta really works hard to control the loss of its natural and historical heritage. I’ve been told by Maltese that many Maltese think what would be good for tourism would not be good for them. But, I think, sometimes what would make life good for the Maltese would also be good for tourism. A concrete island will not equal economic development—don’t believe that for a minute when the politicians and corporate leaders use it as an excuse to break the rules. Maltese tell me with longing how it used to be greener or there used to be pretty little villages that they miss. They’ve told me summers used to be not quite so hot. If you lose green, it gets warmer—not even considering what’s happening with the climate. Try it, drive with your windows open some evening and note how pleasant the air is as you go by open fields. Keep at the government for your own sake. If your lives are richer, the tourists will be happier too.

Daily aggravation: The bus system. I’ve already ranted about it. But, again, this is a topic where an easier life for the Maltese would also be good for the many people who visit your land. I wish Minister Gatt every success in his reform efforts. This is an issue that should cross party lines.

The wonderfully kind people I have met. You are a passionate people, but in a good way. I like how you argue about what’s best for the country. [OK…a touch more political cooperation would really be helpful in Malta, members of the two main parties are not different species of Maltese/Gozitans. Did you know that the Gov of California is Republican and his wife is Democrat? They are both out campaigning for their party’s candidate. They have a tradition of getting full-sized cut out figures of their favorite candidates. When one of the candidates does something stupid, their children put the figure outside on the lawn…it is possible to talk politics, have a mixed political family, and do good.]

Your wildflowers and green hills in the winter/spring. The green interlaced with the creamy limestone cliffs and homes set against the BLUE Mediterranean melt my heart.

The way your young people—my students and the youngsters I visited—see a big future for themselves here in Malta. We always say children are the future, but it’s extra special when the children see themselves making changes and fulfilling their lives in that future. I taught 10 year olds to university students. They have a zeal for the future and the kind of love of country that isn’t just mindless flag-waving, but rather an abiding and responsible commitment to their home.

What Did I Learn?

The social graces and taking time to talk to people are important. We forget that in the US—or I do. Americans are astoundingly efficient, but it comes at a social cost. Americans are friendly and polite, but I think the depth of socializing and the capacity to make others feel welcome that I’ve experienced in Malta are things I want to try to encourage in my own behavior.

US commercialism is in dire need of taming. It was shocking to me when I went home for that one week in May. I think it may be why we have such frantic lives and too little non-work related social life.. I’m going to keep some of the changes in my life where I can (see my Ecological Footprint post from a few months ago).

A renewed appreciation for the extraordinary quality of a Michigan Tech education. Professors and students work together in active and energetic ways and it makes for a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to teaching at Tech again. It was fun, however, teaching international relations here in Malta. And very interesting to teach international law to so many different kinds of students —Maltese, Erasmus, 3rd year law, lawyers at the International Maritime Law Institute, diplomats at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomacy.

I learned I could train a dog to walk on a leash, stop jumping on people (mostly), and just generally be a quite lovely dog. I’d never had a dog before, so this was a surprise. He also helped me meet people!

I have a much greater appreciation for the work of US diplomats and will take that back into my teaching.

This will sound rather “zen,” but I learned that when one is using one’s “gift” it feels light and easy. When you are walking away from it, work feels hard. My gift is teaching and working with students and perhaps helping organizations learn.

I learned that it is easy to spend time in a new culture, but difficult to learn a new culture. I wish I’d signed up for Maltese when I got here, it would have enriched my stay.

I learned to love Malta. It’s sort of like how one can have different loves—of one’s parents, or a spouse, or one’s children. There’s room to love other countries in addition to my own. I had the oddest idea pop into my head when I went home in May. I found myself thinking that the US was too big. Smile.