Looking back, I had always been slightly apprehensive about Erasmus. When you apply to a course and see that you will have to eventually complete a semester abroad, you eagerly accept this, with the knowledge that it is no where near imminent and that surely you will be absolutely fearless about approaching the opportunity when it arises. However, as the two years go on and your Erasmus experience begins to loom, you undoubtedly will feel at least a small sense of dread; will I make friends easily? What if I struggle in the lectures? What if I’m unable to find my way around a brand-new campus? And so, when I was packing for my Erasmus semester in Malta, I had very mixed emotions and the most intense butterfly’s I have ever felt! I can’t imagine the excitement I would feel now if I had the opportunity to repack my bags and do it all over again..
I met the most incredible people in Malta, I will never forget walking outside to the common area of my accommodation and worrying that everyone else would already know each other, have formed groups and have no interest in a new person joining. I have never been so incorrect about anything. Within two days I felt like I had known half of the accommodation my whole life. My first weekend on the island, about 30 of us travelled to the Blue Lagoon, which is one of the most incredible places I have ever been, I don’t think I’ll ever see water like it again! I was never lonely while away, which was definitely one of my biggest worries beforehand, there was always someone to eat with, to study with or to go to town with. The Erasmus Student Network also arranged a multitude of events for us – I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I had on some of these nights! And, especially at the beginning of the semester, they were such a brilliant way to meet new people. I genuinely did create a home away from home in Malta – complete with a new family of the most amazing people. Some of these friends are even visiting Ireland this Easter break, and the first opportunity I get I’ll be straight over to visit them in numerous countries around Europe.
Another aspect of Erasmus that made the experience extraordinary was the opportunity to delve into a new culture so entirely. You are integrated with domestic students in many aspects; you have classes with them, University common areas as well as shared nightlife, so you have a strong opportunity to get a proper insight into typical student life on the Island. The Maltese students were all extremely friendly and told us about a lot of places to go and things to do that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear about before.
It was so enjoyable to learn about different aspects of life in Malta; I attended some Maltese feasts and festivals, tried as much of their delicious cuisine as I possibly could (if you are ever in Malta, you must try a pastizzi!) and travelled all around the Island, which was incredibly easy to do on public transport!
I have some advice for anyone who is lucky enough to attend a semester abroad and that is to just jump into everything as wholeheartedly as you possibly can. Go to every event possible, talk to as many new people as you have the opportunity to and travel as much as you can. And while you’re at it – make sure you take a load of photographs, because you will have an absolutely amazing time and you won’t want to forget even a second of it!