I promise my life isn't just filled with day trips around Malta and weekends off the island! I do actually attend classes — and I LOVE them!
Each Wednesday I begin my morning around 7:30 a.m. when my alarm goes off. My first class, a Youth Studies course titled "Youth and Social Inclusion," begins at 9:00 a.m. at the University of Malta. I eat breakfast and prepare myself for the 37(ish)-minute walk to campus in Msida. On days that I'm feeling daring, I take the bus. Although the bus only takes 25 minutes to get to campus, the bus usually runs late (which is risky considering I can't be late for class).
Upon arriving at the University of Malta, I walk through the courtyard area which is lined with palm trees and a fountain. I absolutely love this area of campus! It's so nice to sit in the sun surrounded by college students. I would compare this area to what an outdoor Union at Luther would resemble. There are food stands, picnic tables, WiFi, and even stray cats. Stray cats around campus are equivalent to the Luther squirrels, but students seem less intrigued by the furry friends.
Every Wednesday morning I practically jump out of bed eager for my elective course. I really enjoy discussing Maltese social policy and comparing cultural components to what I experience back home. Our Professor does a great job of including us (Caitlin, Kaelib, and I) in conversation and filling us in on necessary information that we may not know as foreigners. I've even gotten to know a few Maltese students in class!
The most interesting class session happened yesterday. We discussed a recent policy change in Malta — the voting age is now 16 years old. Coming from a country with a driving age of 16, a voting age of 18, and a drinking age of 21, the Maltese standards feel so foreign. When our Professor opened up this topic for debate, I raised my hand to explain the age differences between the U.S. and Malta. They were absolutely floored when I mentioned that our driving age is 16. In Malta the driving age is 18, the drinking age is 17, and now the voting age is 16. It all seems so backwards from my perspective. Yet not many in my class seemed alarmed at the reduced age.
Since arriving in Malta on Feburary 1, I've had to have an open mind about the countless cultural differences. Taking an elective course at the University has given me a great deal of insight into the lives of young people in Malta. I love having conversations with other students about various policies and cultural norms. They too find it interesting to compare and constrast the differences between our two countries. These conversations have included primary and secondary school education, riding public transit, and now the voting age. I think I made a lot of jaws drop when I mentioned that we all have to pay for college! Maltese students even have the option to study at another university within the EU as part of the funded Erasmus+ program.
A habit I've picked up before Friday classes is getting a smoothie from Dr. Juice. The smoothie stand has student promotions offering huge discounts, especially on Friday. It's always an exciting way to end the week and start the weekend!
Although I love spending my days learning outside of the classroom, I also really enjoy having conversations on campus and in class. From field trips to group trips and spending time around Sliema, I am learning more than I ever imagined possible! I don't hesitate to ask questions nor do I fear striking up conversation with University students from class.
My mind truly feels like a sponge soaking up every bit of information that this semester abroad has to offer.