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Article on Maltese opinion of silence

I read this article today and it stood out to me because of the issues I'm having while trying to get used to the noise here.

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/ … 6736162987

Does anyone have opinions on whether the author is correct, having spoken yourselves to local residents?

All I can say from my limited experience is that the Maltese people I work with seem to barely notice the noise, and my neighbours seem to be completely unaware of how their actions impact those around them.

Reading the article, I wonder if people are so used to so much noise that it genuinely doesn't cross their mind that others in the block don't want to hear the music they are playing, or hear their dog yapping on the balcony for hours on end. Or that they will be hugely unhappy to be woken at 8am by fireworks every weekend!

If I mention my total sleep deprivation and desire for peace and quiet, my work colleagues look at me like I'm crazy!

Just interested to know whether it really is a cultural thing or whether I am just living in a bad block and working with a load of noise happy people!

The Brazilians are the same, the problem is they just don't notice the noise. It's something they have grown up with, and so they don't even think about it. Some people are overly sensitive to noise, it comes from living in small families / not so gregarious lifestyles. My step-father is from a Caribbean family, he can't understand my mother's insistence that nobody plays music (basically without earphones) at all, ever when we visit - and it's the same in Brazil.

As far as moving around in groups, that's just being nice and social people, surely. Brits and some other Euros have the idea that going on holiday without your friends/family  is in some way better, it's really not something to strive for morally. Being part of something bigger than your own family unit (2-4 people) is something most Brits don't get. Latin and Latin-style cultures have the opinion that the others are "cold" and unfeeling, to be honest in most cases, they aren't wrong.

The only advice I would give is you either need to get used to it, or move to a quiet neighborhood. There's no changing cultures like this in a short time, and to be honest it's questionable whether we would even want to.

One thing I always tell myself when someone knocks me, or does something that would be unacceptable in Britain is: It's only rude if the general populous are bothered by it.

The noise thing, I think, is partly a cultural thing (the Maltese tend to be loud, as do the Italians, the Spanish, ... - while the British, the Germans, generally northern European cultures strive for peace and quiet), but it's also a question of what you're used to / what you grew up with.

I grew up in a relatively large town (approx 125,000 inhabitants) in Austria, so I've always been used to noise. I've always lived in apartments, with other people above, below, and next to our flat, and until I was 19 I always shared a room with my sister - so I always had "noise" around me.
My wife grew up in a small village in the mountains, in her parents' detached house, where she had her own room (and didn't have to share a room with her sister), and the family are generally more quiet than my family.
As a result, she is much more noise-sensitive than me; in fact, for me it is almost unbearable when we stay at my parents-in-law's place. It's dead quiet after 10 pm, you have to whisper so as not to wake anyone up, the streets outside are dead (and dark, as the council turns off the streetlights after 11 pm to save energy, something I - as a city dweller - could never live with!!!) - I actually find it scary to be in such silence.

Our children (still young) were born and have always lived in the city. They sleep well when there is noise, they don't mind the buses and cars going by, or the neighbours shouting or watching TV loudly - but they sleep badly when we visit my wife's parents in their silent environment.

So, it is mostly what you're used to, I guess...


BTW: I'm talking about "normal" noise here - the pointless fireworks shaking up the whole island are a completely different thing...

It's a culture thing. They don't notice the "normal" noise around them.

Southern Spanish are loud as well but not nearly as loud as the Maltese. Not sure about Italians. My Maltese neighbors used to wake me up at 5-6 am every morning when saying "hi" to each other on the street... we lived on the 2nd floor AND had all windows shut overnight. That's how loud they are.

Noise pollution is a horrible thing. It wasn't always that way in Malta - the islands are seriously overpopulated. Which makes it very difficult to escape all of that noise.

Edit: everyone sleeps better in a quiet environment - it just takes a week or two to get used to it. After that you get much better, deeper sleep. It has countless health benefits that won't become apparent for many years of course. Again, noise pollution is a horrible thing. The only reason grown up people can't sleep in quiet environments is trauma from constant exposure to loud background noise. But that's nothing new I suppose...

We live in a block of eleven apartments, plus there's three blocks together, so you'd think it'd be noisy but we rarely hear any of our neighbours.  I sometimes wonder whether they've all gone away because it's that quiet.  I know they haven't though because I see their washing out.

The last place we lived drove me mad though.  It wasn't always loud noises, just constant irritating noise from very early morning until late at night, even the birds were at it! We could hear neighbours from above, below and to the sides and even from two floors up. Then there was the constant sound of running water, it was awful. When the neighbours got up at 5 in the morning they slammed about and made sure the whole neighbourhood got up with them. I'm not sure how many times other people need to open and close a wardrobe door in the morning, but they seemed to need to do it more times than most.

I'm totally different and even though we came for a huge detached house in the middle of nowhere, I still taught my kids to keep the noise down and be respectful, I must've known that one day I'd move into an apartment and they'd need that training.

I was constantly crying at the first apartment and just thought, 'what have we done'.  In the end I took to hitting the ceiling and walls with a broom through sleep deprivation, so I knew we needed to leave.   I honestly felt I couldn't cope. I don't know how people can cope with constant noise.

Both apartments were brand new, but the one we're in now is a custom built apartment and the other was one of those houses that's been turned into apartments, so I wonder whether that makes a difference.

It's always noisy when you go out, but it doesn't bother me at all, it just doesn't really register that much.  I think that's probably because we're getting peace and quiet while we're at home. It's so important to have that, I don't think I could stay in Malta if I didn't.

We live in a apartment right now and have neighbours all around us. It's very nice and quiet at home at all times - we never hear any of our neighbours, there's no street noise, etc.

I definitely need peace and quiet at home in order to recharge. I don't mind the noise outside though.

Sleep deprivation is the worst, combined with the feeling of helplessness when one has noisy neighbours or if the noise level in general is just too high and no one else seems to be bothered. I have to admit that I'm yearning for the quieter winter with no fireworks because now they're starting to get to me, too. The feast in Naxxar has officially kicked off on Sunday and they fired extremely loud petards about 500min from our house (I've never heard them this loud before). I honestly thought we were being attacked and even the building shook! It lasted for about 30mins on-and-off and I felt extremely distressed and irritated afterwards  :|

Also, there have been roadworks in front of our building that have been going on for over a month now. They come with their heavy machinery early in the morning and work from 7am until 7.30am. Then they stop  :mad:  To the German in me that's just crazy, waking everyone up at such an ungodly hour - even on Saturday - and then no further work for the rest of the day. When is one supposed to get their 8 hours of sleep?  :unsure

I grew up in Germany where there's strict noise regulations and rules clearly displayed in the common areas of each house. Failure to stick to these (which includes running a washing machine on Sunday - not allowed) and you could risk a visit from the police, or worse, a mob of angry neighbours :D

My dream is to live in a house one day with no neighbours for at least 500m so that I have the ultimate peace  :sleep

I find that excess noise, especially at nighttime, causes extreme stress and makes me really, really angry. Especially when the other party totally doesn't care about your well being. And that's obviously a very bad thing.

I remember lying awake at 3 am (absolutely exhausted and knowing that I have to be up at 5:30) because someone at a house next door was partying through the night and police didn't care. I was seriously contemplating walking over and beating the **** out of whoever was responsible for the noise. I got up, got dressed, left my flat and was walking over to them when the noise suddenly stopped. I'm a helpful, non-violent person. But I swear to God I wasn't going to leave there without putting an end to it lol! :(

So yeah... everyone has their limits but honestly there are so many other things to focus on in life why should noise be at the top of my list.

blackangelheart :

They come with their heavy machinery early in the morning and work from 7am until 7.30am. Then they stop  :mad:  To the German in me that's just crazy, waking everyone up at such an ungodly hour - even on Saturday - and then no further work for the rest of the day. When is one supposed to get their 8 hours of sleep?  :unsure

We've had the same thing.  :lol:

When you're woken up on a weekend at 7am because of workmen you assume they're there for the day, but no, they leave once they've woken you up. 

It's very rare we get any noise at all where we are.  There's no building work around us, but we did take a risk moving into an apartment that had only just been finished so we expected noise while the penthouse above was being done.  It's been fine though, but if we ever experience noise and irritation like we did at the first apartment we'd move within the month.  I thought noise was the norm in all apartments in Malta, but it really isn't.

I had the police out a few times to talk to the workers around us, now they stick to the legal hours - start at 7, they used to start 6:!5.

But it took a lot of effort to make the police aware of the laws, their print outs were 10+ years old and they were acting on those laws not current ones.

blackangelheart :

I grew up in Germany where there's strict noise regulations and rules clearly displayed in the common areas of each house. Failure to stick to these (which includes running a washing machine on Sunday - not allowed) and you could risk a visit from the police, or worse, a mob of angry neighbours :D

Funny, that's one of the things I really dislike about Germany and Austria - the overregulation; when we were kids, the neighbours once called the police because my sister and I were playing with LEGOs after 8pm. Ridiculous!

bernie_iris_fabian_david :
blackangelheart :

I grew up in Germany where there's strict noise regulations and rules clearly displayed in the common areas of each house. Failure to stick to these (which includes running a washing machine on Sunday - not allowed) and you could risk a visit from the police, or worse, a mob of angry neighbours :D

Funny, that's one of the things I really dislike about Germany and Austria - the overregulation; when we were kids, the neighbours once called the police because my sister and I were playing with LEGOs after 8pm. Ridiculous!

My mother used to hate not being able to wash clothes at all on a Sunday, I remember we couldn't hang washing out in the garden to dry.

Sorry for going off topic before someone slaps my wrist!

As the OP I don't mind off topic chat- I like the natural progression of conversations and hearing all the opinions!

Sam4321 can I come live with you?! It sounds great there haha 😄

Our son and his family live in Germany and there are so many rules and regulations.

GozoMo do your son and his family speak fluent German?

Have always wondered realistically what level of German you'd need to live in Germany or Austria as they are two of my favorite countries :) Not sure how well I would pick it up, my memory is pretty awful these days.

I wonder if I could cope with lots of rules and regulations if it meant peace and quiet along with it! Actually, thinking about it, I don't mind rules and regulations if everyone keeps to them, it annoys me more when people aren't doing what they are supposed to. Maybe I would fit in quite well then!

Feline, if you don't mind to be policed by other people on what you're doing wrong and if you have no desire to stick out or deviate from the norm you'd absolutely love it in Germany!  :D

Berlin might be different from that according to my friends but the rest of the country pretty much abides by the rules and regulations which in severe cases includes not running a washing machine on Sundays, trimming your hedge so that it doesn't bother the neighbour and many other things  :o Not all communities or neighbours are like that though, it depends.

If you manage to find a well-paid English job then I don't think there's much need to learn German, especially in larger cities like Berlin or Frankfurt. The majority of Germans speaks half-decent English and you might actually struggle practising your German because most Germans believe their English is better when it comes to holding a fluent conversation and they also don't have much patience for someone with broken German  :mad:

I have to say I do miss the excellent soundproofing of German buildings, even converted flats in a house. When I lived in Frankfurt the neighbours next door practised on their drums but I heard hardly anything. In Malta I can hear what my neighbour watches on TV!  :sosad:

bernie_iris_fabian_david :

Funny, that's one of the things I really dislike about Germany and Austria - the overregulation; when we were kids, the neighbours once called the police because my sister and I were playing with LEGOs after 8pm. Ridiculous!

Wow, I've never heard of something like that! What a lovely neighbour -  not! Usually noise is allowed until 10pm (or 9pm in some buildings/common areas) and after that the noise level has to stay inside the apartment.

I remember as a kid Germany felt super restrictive but now here in Malta I wish for some stricter regulation. At least when it comes to construction noise the residents should be able to sleep until 9am on a Saturday and during the week until 8am. The current time window of 07.00 - 20.00 is such a long time to suffer and I'm feeling already for all these poor residents of Sliema where this horrible, ugly new tower will be built over the next 4 years...

So a few weeks before I came here I actually posted on my FB page that if I was made prime minister one of the first things I'd do would be make a law that people could only do gardening at specified times! I was only joking really, it didn't bother me too much at the time. Now, that level of noise sounds laughable and really appealing! 😁

So maybe Germany would be a good fit after all!

Do you happen to know whether there are particular industries where it is easier to get an English speaking job in Germany? I don't think it is possible in my current industry.

felinefine81 :

As the OP I don't mind off topic chat- I like the natural progression of conversations and hearing all the opinions!

Sam4321 can I come live with you?! It sounds great there haha 😄

It's only three bedrooms, so it'll be a bit of a squash.  :lol:

It's heaven, but I do think we're probably lucky living on the edge of Swieqi/St Julian.  We don't get any of the noise or trouble that a lot of people living here get.  When I read what other people are experiencing close by it's like they're living in a different place.

Haha, it sounds like Germany would indeed be a great fit! Especially Frankfurt with the outskirts in the beautiful Taunus area and a large English & Irish expat scene. Might be worth checking out the toytown forum, which is what I did when I moved back to my home country after 6 years in the UK. It was a great resource and I met fantastic people :)

One industry that happily takes English speakers is payments - I know that because it's where I've worked for the last 10 years :D There's MasterCard in Frankfurt, also AirPlus (they even sponsor people that need visas) and American Express. It obviously helps if you speak some German to make settling into the country and dealing with bureaucracy easier. Have a look at indeed.de and type in 'english' as criteria, that should bring up mostly English speaking roles :)

Thanks I'll have a look. Matm911 suggested on another post that I change my career if I don't like my job in Malta. I don't think it's worth giving my career up for Malta, but I do wonder about Germany!

Probably a pipedream... One involving schnitzel 😁

Our daughter in law had to learn German for her job, our son is learning it but not necessary for his work and our four year old granddaughter has been learning at kindergarten.  They live near Munich.

Surely, you must have down some research on this matter. Did you not not try living on the island even for a week to get some experience. I lived on Crete in the early nineties, and the noise environment was just the same then. I'm sorry , but if you live in a Mediterranean environment , it just comes with the territory. Sorry kid

Of course I researched it. But research means nothing - you don't know how you'll react until you experience it properly. I didn't think I was particularly bothered about noise having lived in a city and in a flat for years and years (although not the last couple).

We did come to the island beforehand but had to stay in a hotel at the time due to availability. It's not the same, and we didn't have any more time to spare before having to decide whether to accept a job offer.

I wouldn't say all Med environments are the same as Malta at all. And the (Maltese) writer is specifically writing about characteristics that she thinks make Maltese people different.

As my former real estate agent used to tell us, there are 3 things that count in Malta:
Location, Location and Location  :top:

In my neigbourhood you hear from time to time mothers shouting with their children/hubbies, barking dogs or cars with reving up the engines (for whatever reason).
Latest after 9 or 10pm it's quiet that you can hear the mosquitos coming  :)
Construction works do not start before 8am resp. 9am on Saturdays, this is an agreement among the neighbours.
When friends from the busy center come over for a visit they are always surprised about the silence when sitting on the balkony on a Sunday afternoon.
The noise at work is something cultural. If something happens (and always something happens) first of all each and every person has to shout out swearing phrases and then accusing everyone else to be responsible for the mistake. As I said, each and every person is doing this ... and after some time they calm down for looking into a solution.
I bought good headphones and enjoy the bizarre spectacles with jazz music, deep groove or oldies from the 50/60ies  :cool:

I live between two houses which are rented out to holidaymakers. In my experience, the noisiest are the Maltese, with people shouting, barking dogs, late night parties around the pool and loud music. Usually a polite request is sufficient to reduce the noise and the occasional use of power tools in my garden makes the very selfish realise that co-operation is the better way.

I agree that many people don't realise how they impact on others. It is not just noise either but driving, parking, and queueing come immediately to mind.

There is only one nationality in the four years that I have lived here that has thrown cigarette ends into my garden, but that maybe going off-topic.

I find the limestone assists certain vibrations to resonate.

I live in Sliema at the border with St Julian's which is an absolute noise-  horror show in the summer months but quite pleasant in the fall and winter. My building is quiet- mostly elderly Maltese who appreciate peace and quiet. I think many Maltese appreciate silence as much as people from northern countries, but as someone said, the island is seriously overpopulated and I think they have just learned to adapt.

I think it is a Mediterranean thing. After living in Turkey, I find it's quite similar.

But yes to hear builders starting work at 7am is annoying. And its difficult to keep the windows closed in this weather! I live just beside one apartment that is being reconstructed so I really pity people who live beside a big construction site. The cranes are real eyesore in St Julians too.

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