A New Life in a New Town

A new life in a new town…

I learned and experienced many things during my years in Malta, and I wrote around 30 articles about it — most of them were positive, about the places we discovered, from small village streets to the windswept heights of Ras ir-Raheb and the coast of Blata tal-Melh.

But some were critical, too.

I found the history to be quite fascinating. The present culture not so much. And this past year of corruption and greed intolerable.

This look at some of the challenges of living there seems to have struck a nerve in a lot of people. It was originally published by Outpost magazine in November 2015, as part of a series I did on Expat Life. And it went viral this past weekend and drew a lot of emotional hysterics.

I stand by my observations. They were based on first hand experience.

What comes to seem normal when living in such a small, inward-looking place is very, very strange when seen from outside. The Malta Years were an interesting period of my life.

I know Berlin well — we’ve been coming here yearly for the past 4 years, usually for a month each time. We always rented flats in different parts of the city, which was a nice way to explore its many neighbourhoods. This place held a strange attraction for us right from the beginning.

I travel a great deal for my work, and as a way of digging deeper into myself. But Berlin is the one place where, when I’m here, I don’t think about travel at all. A few weeks go past, and I suddenly realize I haven’t looked at maps or planned the next journey.

I don’t expect perfection, of course — that doesn’t exist anywhere. I think the best you can hope for is a place that resonates with you.

We love the art scene and the constant exhibits. The history, and perhaps the afterglow of the Weimar years. The cultural diversity and the ethic food. The unpretentious live-and-let-live nature of Berliners.

And perhaps more than anything, that feeling of creativity in the air, of curious, motivated people doing interesting things. I find it tremendously inspiring.

We’re living in a wonderful area, with writers and journalists as neighbours. There’s an outstanding English language second hand bookshop nearby, all sorts of cafes, a video rental shop run by guys with obscure knowledge, and more ethnic food choices within a 10 min walk than we could eat in 3 weeks. And the best part? Wide ranging conversations with curious, well-read people.

It’s interesting timing, with that old article of mine generating so much controversy, and such a vomiting of bile in the article comments. You really have to see it to believe it (here and here).

It reminds me of why I left Malta, and why we haven’t looked back.

Sampling the house beer at Max und Moritz, Kreuzberg

Photos ©Tomoko Goto

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


  • These people who didn’t like the taste of the locally-produced Maltese soft drink got the same sort of response. https://youtu.be/bK_izMAxoTk

    I really don’t understand it, I guess because I don’t feel enraged when someone doesn’t like something about Canada. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity for discussion.

    I’ve written a large number of Malta-related articles during the past 6 years, the vast majority of which were glowingly positive. And when I wrote about the challenges of life there, it was always based on things I had experienced personally.

    But one thing I learned about living in Malta is that glowing praise is welcomed, but daring to say anything negative or critical will get a surprisingly violent response, and a lot of “fuck off and leave the island”.

    It’s truly bizarre and more than a little abnormal. Those folks should seriously consider psychological counselling.

    • I just put it up — didn’t want to give everything away 😉

      Hope you find the books helpful. And please let me know if you find any other good ones. I’m fascinated by that stuff.


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