It’s GO Time with Schools…We Must Choose
September 9, 2020
I’m right in the middle of choosing a school for my children. This has been a nightmare scenario. We have been on six different waiting lists, five of which we signed up for at the start of May. We had to pay hefty fees just to turn in an application with absolutely no refunds or guarantees that we would get into any of them. One school we had to pay more than $500 just to get onto their waitlist (we’ll call that school #1). One we had to pay I think $140 for each child to sign up and that was originally my top choice and it’s located less than 10 minutes’ walk from our house (we’ll call that school #2). One I hadn’t given much thought to because we filled out the registration form, got on their wait list and then never heard a word since until we arrived here, they didn’t charge us a dime unless we get in and they are even closer than any other school and apparently ‘the best school on the island’ (we’ll call that school #3). Then we have school #4 which we never heard a peep from since sending the registration fee and we did not have to pay them anything. School #4 has been wiped from my list. Then we have the final schools #5 and #6. School #5 is a very high end, competitive school with a formal education and all the high end amenities. They were not as close to our new house so I put them out of my mind. Finally we came across the last school and I thought it would be perfect. It’s small, and meets the children where they are, along with very small classes and is an international school. That is school #6. We had to pay a few hundred to sign up there as well. As of last week nothing was open to us.
Every school remained full. I have been persistent emailing, following up and calling. All of a sudden this week, school #5 let us know that there were two places open for the girls. So, we began the process. Both girls took a series of tests last week to determine how they think and how they learn. It’s called the CAT test. Today, we had our interview with the head master via computer. Between the test days last week and this week, school #6 let us know that two places had opened up and they wanted us to sign up and pay immediately. I have been asking to come in and see the school since it’s located in a very busy area and feels like I’m taking my children to school in the heart of New York City. They have not allowed us a meeting or a visit and continued to ask for the payment. Sign up fee and first semesters tuition. They became less desirable at their lack of interviewing or really having any part of talking with us and answering questions and only saying it’s a first come first serve and if someone else pays, we lose the spot.
So today we did the interview at school #5 and were so impressed and pleasantly surprised. It went from the bottom of the list to the top. Then right after the interview was over we got an email from school #1 saying they had a spot open for Hannah. It’s the furthest school from our home and there is zero chance I’d send one child and not the other. So, that is out. After that, we got the option to go in tomorrow finally and tour school #6. At this point, I have a feeling everyone is going to come around this week and say they have a spot open and now all the scripts will flip. Even with the scripts flipping though, choosing a school for your children is a very precious decision and one that brings tremendous stress and agony to me. I obsess over all of it and feel conflicted at every turn. Where will they get the best education without the academics being the only part that matters? Where will they make their best friends? What life are we setting them up for here in Malta? The school dictates so much of that on a small island. People grow up and remain tight with their classmates. It actually sets the entire tone for the children what we choose for them.
I had a dream of walking my girls to school each day and being right down the street from their new friends. The two schools that are in walking distance remain closed and full. I thought I would hear this week if something opens, but so far it hasn’t. Now, I’m almost hoping it doesn’t because that only adds another layer on this already very heavy weighted blanket as we navigate our way. At the same time though, I have sat deeply in prayer and asked that God deliver us to the best school for the girls. Not based on what anyone else tells us about the school, but of what God knows to be the best opportunity for them for personal success. What opens to us are the choices we have, what remains closed was never meant to be ours. Yes, I do wish I could walk them to school, but it would never be more important to me than having them in a school that accommodates who they are and where they want to go.
So, as of today school #5 is my top pick based on what has been offered. Tomorrow after we visit school #6 I might change my mind, although I am leaning less toward it. I like all the hoops and tests and interviews that were asked of us for school #5 and school #1 was our first choice originally because they were the only school that gave us any sort of time and effort. We had to take a placement test with them to make sure Hannah could skip a grade because in Malta they do each grade according to birth year and summer birthdays don’t make any difference. Their cut off is at the end of December, not August.
I suspect by the end of the week we will have fully decided which way we will go with school and then we can get ourselves prepared for what’s to come. They are allowing both in person and online as options. Should either school that is within walking distance open up, that does change things considerably but without a guarantee anymore that it’s where we would go.
OK translation beyond school for the girls is this: sometimes you think you know exactly what you want and then what you want is not one of your choices. Then you take the step down and choose what you want based on what choices life gives you in reality. And then, as I always talk about, the Universe will test your resolve of exactly how committed you are to the choice you made. This is how this all works. I have known this for a long time. It’s when you have no choices for a long time, then a sliver of a choice and then more come flooding in that makes choosing very difficult. When in these times this occurs, I retreat into silence and pray a ton. Then it’s a matter of learning to listen to the guidance and not try to steer past what God intends for you. Trust is the key and that one hurts sometimes. Trust is tough, especially blind trust and faith. But this is what it’s all about, trust and faith that something bigger than me and bigger than you is guiding us as we go.
As for these blogs posts, I am trying to post two a week. I want to do a good mix of really being honest and keeping you in the loop of real life over here as well as the wonders and beauty that is this sacred land. As I explore and become braver out in the wild over here, I will continue to share all that I see and do. I hope you follow the page or subscribe or whatever. I’m spread out a good bit. Instagram MyMaltaLife I post a lot of food and buildings, a lot of which are not in this blog. On Youtube MyMaltaLife it’s the videos that I take and I do upload them all here. And then my facebook pages, MyMaltaLife and my personal page are more photos and little snippets of living life in Malta.
I pinch myself every day that we live here now. It is so beautiful. The people are so kind. There is not political chaos. There are no drug commercials on their tv because they advocate as little pill use as possible. Going to the doctor last week for Hannah’s ear infection was by far the best medical experience I’ve ever had. They did not ask me for insurance. The doctor visit was 10Euros. The drops were 13Euros. We were in and out and the doctor was fantastic. No oral antibiotics were even discussed. The food here is lighter, sweeter and more pure. Nothing is as pronounced as it is in the states. Toilet paper is not as thick and fluffy. Hand sanitizer is not as strong or as pungent. They do not sell straight rubbing alcohol here in their pharmacies. Also in the pharmacies, there is one, maybe two kinds of multi vitamins and they are 10 Euros, not 40-60 like they are at the health food stores. Foods do not have the same large flavorings and additives, but instead taste more true to form. Cool Ranch Doritos are a totally different taste and color without the mega preservatives. They still taste delicious but so much less zesty; maybe more of a slight twang. I bought a veggie tray from the store the other day and marveled that it’s all organic without having to pay extra and read the labels. None of their foods have been sprayed with poison. There are a lot of things in the states that we have been conditioned to believe are the best, when in reality, they are dangerous, chemical laden and intended to make us sick. We have known this, but it’s different to live in the difference of it. It’s a practice of having to take steps back and remember the original forms of things without so many chemicals being pumped into things to make them bigger and better all the time. There is something extraordinary about making the shift and it requires awareness and the ability to take it down a notch over and over again. It’s a centering in every aspect of life. Even waiting for the schools to open up for you, it’s a step back and a gathering of trust in the process of life. What I can say firmly is that I love it here. I feel more peace and more inspiration here than ever before. I feel safe here. People still love each other here. The love is palpable. It is a treasure to behold.
I will let you know soon which school we chose. In the meantime, plan for me to see something beautiful over the weekend and bring it back to share it with you. I still love all of you by the way.
UPDATE WE HAVE CHOSEN!!!
We visited School #6 and it was not at all what we are looking for. All they wanted was our money. Zero interest in the children and the head person we were scheduled to meet with us didn’t even take the time to meet us. Instead we were pawned off on an assistant. It was a definite NO once we saw it all. Then we drove over to school #5 that has already been so thorough in vetting us to see if we were a good fit for them and vise versa. That school was so beautiful! It has all the high end emenities. It accommodates the children where they are also but also challenges them. They also use Singapore Math, which is the same math we were following at our hybrid homeschool program. That helps the girls in a big way. The girls loved their head master and are super excited to join this school. Yesterday, late in the day, we got the email formally accepting us into their school. This morning, we happily accepted.
So…school #5 it shall be. Though we can’t walk to it, it is clearly the right choice for us. I am super excited and feel so comfortable with this decision. It lined up beautifully after all, not that I doubted that something would. The girls will be driven to school by a government run van. From what my neighbor says, they pick up and drop off at the gates of our homes (she uses it for her children as well).
We begin school on the 28th. God Speed my precious girls, your new school awaits you! We are the only Americans enrolled. We are one of very few Americans on the island as it is. Most are European. We will be taking Spanish in leu of Maltese lessons. They said for Hannah, they’ve gotten too far ahead at this point and it would be terribly stressful for her. Ava could do it, but we want them to learn the same language and make it easier. Also, Maltese serves no use outside of Malta the way Spanish does. The girls will take their Catechism class for first communion after school online and receive their communion at the same time in June with the other children as part of the school curriculum.
Also, while it is a Catholic School, it is not run by a priest and they only bring in a visiting Priest once a month for mass. That is just enough for me, but not overkill for them. I like it. They celebrate the Christian holidays and do Christmas big. They also accept non Christian students and offer a religious ethics class instead of the Catholic classes (you get to choose). This makes me very happy that it is not closed off to other religious affiliations (remember this country is 98% Catholic) and it is still in fact, a Theocracy). All in all, it’s a great fit and while I remain apprehensive due to what the past has taught me about getting too comfortable before we really experience life from the inside, I also remain optimistic in what the possibilities are for the children. Onward and upward we continue to go.