Thinking of studying abroad in Malta? Siún Lennon writes about her experiences on the exchange programme.
Id-dinja tghallmek aktar minn imghallmek
The world teaches you more than any teacher
-A Maltese proverb
For my semester abroad I am attending the University of Malta and studying Communications. I’ll be honest; the reasons I chose Malta were pretty shallow ones. I was thinking sun, sea and pool parties. But as I explored the island, I realised there is so much more to it than that. There’s ancient ruins, a proud history of fighting during World War II, their own unique culture, language and specialities. You don’t need me to tell you this as the information is available everywhere but take my word for it-you do need to experience it.
Malta is an extremely small island country-222 times smaller than Ireland. It is located below Sicily and just north of North Africa. The weather here is usually quite warm at 18 degrees Celsius and can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius at the height of summer.
Maltese is the first language of many of the locals here, but English is also an official language here, as Malta was ruled by the British until 1964. So although English is the language used in workplace and educational settings, you still here people chat away in Maltese all the time. It’s extremely refreshing to hear the Maltese people speak their own language and have such pride in using it.
Malta is a relatively inexpensive country by European standards. Eating out and buying alcohol here is extremely cheap, but food shopping and buying other basic necessities here is alarmingly expensive, given the fact that the minimum wage is €4.
The food here alone is the main reason I will never achieve my goal ‘beach bod’. The Maltese are a huge fan of their pastries and with their national dish being a lovely pastry-stuffed pastizzi, it’s easy to see why some of the older gentlemen tend to be well-rounded in their middle regions.
The university itself that I'm studying at is quite small and not as well-equipped as most of the universities in Ireland but it receives a considerable amount less in state funding. The college accommodation we opted for was the University Residence accommodation. Despite what the name suggests, the accommodation is not on the university campus, it's about an 8 minute bus journey to the University. The accommodation is basic enough but absolutely brilliant craic. Although there are ten people to one oven at dinner time which can be hectic at times!
There is a pool at the accommodation but no-one uses it yet because it's too cold. That's another thing: it does actually get cold in Malta! I, like an idiot, came out with only t-shirts and shorts to quickly find out that it's about 10 degrees too cold for that. Just because the sun shines doesn't mean it's warm too!
But enough about me complaining... now to the going out spots! Paceville strip is where the main nightlife happens. There's late bars like Soho, Footloose and Plush and Havana nightclub. There's also plenty of Irish bars as well if you’re just feeling like having a nice pint. The best nights to go out are definitely on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. (If my parents are reading this I promise I do go to college too!)
One thing I will say for prospective Erasmus students is that being on Erasmus is hard! I have a new-found respect for the ones that visit our university at home. You don't get your own timetable, you have to make one up for yourself based on what your hours are, what units you're allowed take and how many credits you need. The constant changing and signing of the learning agreement will be the bane of your life. Thankfully, there is a stellar crew of other students in the same boat as you so you're not alone.
Erasmus can be a challenging experience. You’re moving abroad, away from your friends and family and often have to adapt to different languages and cultures. But there is always a bright side: going on Erasmus in Malta has definitely made me open my eyes to the world- and as the Maltese proverb says, the world teaches you more than any teacher.