Have you ever wondered how it feels to spend a month abroad in a place you don’t know, with completely new people and speaking a language you don’t usually use in everyday life? I, a 17-year-old Italian girl, had never thought about it but everything changed when I found out that I had been selected for a project in Malta.
What would my new life be like? Would I have been fine? What would I have felt? At the time I asked myself those questions I still did not know what the future would hold for me and I must say that the reality was very different from my expectations! But first let’s start from the basics…
WHAT IS MALTA?
Malta is an archipelago located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, which has about 500,000 inhabitants. But only the three largest islands are inhabited, and these are Malta, Gozo and Comino. The official languages are English and Maltese. But surely the most fascinating aspect of Malta is the historical one: over the centuries, the archipelago has hosted Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, French, English and the Knights of Malta. Even today you can see the results of its centuries-old history! In fact, Malta hosts people of different ethnicities creating a new cultural tradition: you can walk through the Arab neighborhoods and be sure that during the journey, you will surely meet many Italians, English, Turks, Chinese and much more!
However, the real question is:
WHY WAS I IN MALTA?
I undertook this experience together with another 25 students, belonging to my own school complex and whom I knew only by sight: our contract provided for a period of mobility, lasting one month, in which we would be occupied in studying and working. Some of us worked in the field of catering, others in commerce and tourism and, in the meantime, we were taking an English language course. So, in light of this, it is not difficult to guess what were the motivations that led us to leave: to increase our language skills, to get to know different cultures, to approach the working world and, above all, to make a personal journey that would have made us grow. The emotions we felt were manifold… we were happy and full of hope but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel sadness and homesickness.
During these weeks we have also had time to spend for ourselves: we visited Mdina, the historic capital of Malta, as well as a real fortress in which the oldest Maltese tradition is kept; not to mention Valletta, the current capital! We were really lucky, as we were able to visit it in one of the most beautiful periods, that is in the middle of carnival: the central square was occupied by colorful and extravagant floats, in perfect harmony with the music and the joyful atmosphere.
The moment when we had the most fun was the last night, when we went to Paceville, in St Julian’s: this is the place where all the young people gathered, in fact here we can find discos, clubs and even casinos, like in a real American movie!
Soon the days passed and without us noticing, from simple strangers we became something more: a family. It is with them that I built my best memories, we shared laughter and tears, we supported each other, making the most of it until the last second we had left. Surely this experience has been fundamental in our school and work path but it has been even more decisive in the personal one: we had changed, indeed… we had grown up. Malta has taught us to be independent, to appreciate even the smallest thing, it has given us new friends and even new loves…