Why Malta you say?
A year ago, I didn’t even consider studying abroad on this tiny mediterranean island. A year later, I’m all packed and ready to move back to England after spending an amazing half a year studying here. Here’s some reasons why I absolutely loved my Erasmus+ exchange at the University of Malta, and why Malta is such an amazing place to live and study.
The history and architecture
A country which was once ruled by many countries, including the brits means that Malta has a lot of characteristics which are very special. They have the typical red phone boxes that are in London, Aqueducts from Italy and more. However, Malta is extra special because of the Maltese architecture out there. There’s no country like Malta and it makes fall in awe of it. From the magnificent Royal entrance to Mdina, the silent city to the typical Maltese houses which stand proud down every street. As soon as I arrived here in January I instantly fell in love and now once I leave, my heart will always be in Malta.
The Maltese archipelago
So Malta itself is a part of the Maltese archipelago, meaning it is the largest of the three islands it owns. Malta is the bottom island, followed by Comino and then Gozo. Gozo is basically a smaller version of Malta, less traffic, more fields and a lot less touristy. Comino is a small island, it’s only inhabited by 4 people, there’s one hotel on the island, but during the summer months it’s well occupied by tourists and Maltese residents as it’s home to the famous Blue Lagoon. You really need to visit all three of the islands, and it makes being a student here extra special because you get to explore lots of places and really get a taste of what living in the middle of the mediterranean is like.
Malta has its own special language, Maltese. It’s kind of a mix between Italian and Arabic, but is easy to grasp. However, this isn’t the only official language spoken here, English is too. This makes it very easy to get around the island, communicate with people and fit in. You feel well at home knowing if you were to get lost or need directions, you’re bound to get there easily because you can ask for help and someone can direct you as they speak English. The University of Malta is also full tutored in English, apart from if you take a specific course such as “Beginners Maltese”.
The food here in Malta is super tasty. There’s a lot of well-known fast food chains such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. There’s also a maltese version of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, ‘The Donut Factory” you’re never going to be without food here as there’s so much choice for restaurants too. There’s a Pastizerria down pretty much every road, they serve pasta dishes for cheap prices, pizza slices, sausage rolls and a Maltese snack, the Pastizzi (you need to try one) they’re roughly 30 cent each and are pasty cooked with either cheese or pea inside. Recently, a few Pastizierria’s have been a little more creative with these, by introducing ones filled with Nutella.
Remember turning 18 and wanting to go on your first girls or lads holiday? Those popular areas like Kavos and Zante where there’s a road full of bars and clubs? Well Paceville is just that. There’s a whole ‘strip’ full of fun bars and clubs. Even better, they give out free drinks and on Thursday’s you don’t have to spend any money (unless you want to buy a burger king or some pizza). Students love it here as it’s a good way to meet new people and get some good, and bad memories!
When you’re not at uni
Malta is more than just food and alcohol. There’s some of the prettiest beaches you’ll see on the island, and the water is so clear it makes you never want to leave. There’s some areas in Malta that you must visit and you’ll never be lost for photo opportunities.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta, it’s surrounded by the sea and can be seen from the surrounding towns. There’s a lot of high street shops here, as well as remarkable churches, monuments, beautiful gardens and some of the cutest cafe’s and restaurants. You’re always going to be eating with a view! There’s also a lot of places to get gelato so you can stroll down the long San Fransisco like streets with one some in your hand.
Sliema and St Julians are two very pretty areas. Sliema is a shoppers paradise with a large shopping centre, a high street and sea views everywhere you turn. There’s a lot of ferries on the bay and you can get one of these to Valetta, Comino or just for a day cruise around the island. Sliema is a place to go for a day and really take it all in. You can see a fabulous view of Valletta from there.
St Julians is quieter than Sliema, there’s Spinola Bay which looks amazing by day and night. It’s also next door to Paceville so you can take a stroll there after you’ve been walking around the bay, or walk through Paceville towards Bay Street shopping complex where there’s a range of shops as well as a cinema and bowling alley.
Mdina was once the capital city of Malta until it was moved to Valletta. It’s now known as the silent city as when you walk around at night you can hear your footsteps. It’s the highest point on the island and you can see some amazing views from its famous walls. It’s definitely a place to go, and we love sitting with tea and some famous Fontanella cake while watching the sun set.
Choosing to study in Malta has been the best decision of my life, something I’ll forever look back on and want to relive. You meet amazing people no matter where you study, but Malta is special as it’s so small and is a hidden gem. No one realises how amazing it is until you’re lucky enough to call it your home. Although I’m leaving this all behind in a few days, I have so many memories to look back on and without a doubt, I’ll be back as often as I can and one day I’ll call it home again.
Thanks for the memories Malta! Saħħa for now.