Day 25: Thoughts on Leaving Gozo & Day 26: Munich, Newark, Minneapolis

Over the past month, I’ve fallen in love with the small island of Gozo. Much more quaint than the comparably large Malta, Gozo has a charm that is hard to describe. To start off, there is the local beer Cisk (Ch-isk), daily siestas from 12-3 pm, friendly locals, the Mediterranean and the crazy drivers. I’ll miss Gozo.

Above all, the “Off The Beaten Track” Field School I attended surpassed LL my expectations. The staff were helpful, but seemed more like friends than authority figures, as most nights they would outlast all the students by staying up till sunrise on “barruf” (the roof). I’ve met people from all over Europe, Australia, Canada and the States, whom I hope to see again in the next couple years. Ethnography is much simpler than it seems, in that you must be willing to put yourself out there.

While anthropologists supposedly go out to study cultures they deem strange or interesting; while walking around a foreign country, I realized I was the strange one, the sore thumb sticking out every time I spoke my accented English. Now I feel as though I may not have stuck out as much as other students, because of my darker complexion, which continuously got me mistaken for Maltese. This allowed me to be a little more invisible, until I revealed my inability to speak Maltese. Not to mention that the farmers I was hoping to speak to did not speak English in many cases. However, I was fortunate enough to meet a local pig farmer with impeccable English skills.

Anthropology is not rocket science, but consistency. Rather than interviewing to gather information, all twenty of us went out in the field to create relationships. Whether it was consisted of waking up at 2 a.m. to go fishing, playing bocce ball everyday at the futbol club, visiting immigrant tent camps on Malta or visiting a pig farm, the act of being there, showing interest and repeatedly showing up are more important than any fancy interview techniques or “secret” method to unlocking culture.

It is quite strange to establish a relationship with people over a month and realize there is a good chance you may never see them again. How do you communicate that? I’ll miss visiting Joe the farmer, the men at the futbol club, Rob my dive instructor and especially the staff and students from my field school.

Three weeks is too much time for a stop, because you adjust to a new life. I’ve become comfortable with Gozo and I’m slightly sad to be sitting in the Munich airport at the moment, because I don’t know the next time I’ll be back to Gozo.

Day 26:

I’ve been sitting in some form of an airport or airplane since 2 p.m. yesterday. When you factor in the six-hour time difference, that’s about 30 hours. Since I’d been only traveling in Europe for the last month, I’d forgotten the monotonous security checks. Two customs check and two domestic security checks later, my drawing pencil box had been checked for banned substances, and the sandwich I brought from Germany to eat once here now occupies a garbage bin. If you ask me, it all seems a bit excessive. However, I’m somewhat happy to be back in the States and on my way home. Traveling there didn’t wear me out as much as traveling back. However, I should get used to it, as I’ll be Seville bound in a little more than a month…

-Ray

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