Friday, 5 August 2011

Guest Blogger Series - It’s a magical thing to love where you live – Mike and Jess

It all started on our high school student council almost seven years ago. We have been dreaming big and making each other laugh since then, adding two puppies to our lives in late 2008 and moving from Nova Scotia, Canada to Malta in the autumn of 2010. We blog about our life together at

Our first trip to Malta in 2008

We fell in love with Malta in early 2008 when Mike participated in an exchange program with the University of Malta. Jess came to visit him for several weeks and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, sort of.

When we returned to Canada we realized that Malta was everything in a place we wanted to call our home. It’s not that we were unhappy in Canada. We had jobs we loved, Jess was studying in a university program she enjoyed, Mike was almost finished his degree in accounting, and of course we had our friends, family, and each other. We lived in a charming old Victorian house in the middle of the city of Halifax with our two little dogs, an herb garden, and an electric scooter. Life was good.

Sitting on a bench in a park one day, playing backgammon under a big willow tree, we began making plans in the way that most couples do. ‘Someday let’s go to Paris. Someday let’s have a beautiful gourmet kitchen. Someday let’s live in Malta.’ And after that we knew it was inevitable we would return to that little island in the middle of the Mediterranean, someday.

That 'someday' came a lot sooner than we thought possible. And not because we got great job offers or had other incentives that encouraged us to move. No, we just decided we didn’t want to wait until our lives were half over to follow this dream. So we worked hard organizing and planning and we made it happen, with a little luck on our side, some sacrifices, and a whole lot of excitement.

We are so happy with our decision to move to Malta. There are a lot of great things about being an expat here. First, the weather in Malta is beautiful. English is also an official language in Malta so we don’t face the difficulties and frustrations of a language barrier.

Malta is also in a great geographic location, making travelling to Europe and North Africa easy and inexpensive. We’ve certainly taken advantage of that in the past year, travelling to France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Marrakech, Morocco

But living in the middle of the Mediterranean, so close to areas of conflict, is a big change from living in Canada which is quite geographically isolated. Our eyes have been opened to the effects of conflict on this side of the world in a way that would never be possible in Canada. We are now a little less naïve, which is probably for the best. And we recognize how lucky we are to hold Canadian passports - we can return to that big, safe country whenever we need to.

Malta is also beautiful, in that charming way that only Mediterranean countries are. And it’s not all sun and sand here. Malta’s rich history is wonderfully complex and in a ten minute walk you can see medieval palazzo, Baroque churches, and 20th century flats stacked like children’s building blocks, all jostling for space in little towns or hugging the rocky coastline. We’ll take that over the big grassy suburbs, the endless woodlands and the bricked-building cities of Canada, at least for now.

There are a lucky few who feel happy and whole in the place that they grew up or live in. But for many people, and almost all expats, that simply isn’t the case. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from our home country and culture to be happy, to find adventure and excitement, and to create our own identities. And that was the case for us. We love living in Malta, and after a year of living abroad we have learned that it is truly a magical thing to love where you live.

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