Published: January 21st 2013January 21st 2013
‘Merhba guys’ and welcome to my time in Malta
By: Marina Wagner-Sanders
It was last September when I first came to Malta, a small island of the Mediterranean, in order to study one Semester at the University of Malta. Four months have already passed since then and I have seen and learned a lot about the island, the culture and the mentality of the people here.
“Why did you choose Malta for studying?” I was asked this question several times before coming to Malta and honestly I did not really have an answer to that question. Before coming I did not really have an idea about this small island located in the Mediterranean. I guess it was the hope for better weather during the winter semester and the possibility to escape the cold, rainy and uncomfortable winter in Germany.
Without thinking any further I booked my flight and since then I am here, and I have to say that I did not regret it for a second.
It is not only the climate which is so different from home but there are so many things you might not recognize at first sight, which makes this tiny island so special and enjoyable for myself personally.
The first thing which is really different from Germany or northern European countries in general, is the hospitality of the people. I remember my first purchase in the Smart Supermarket in Birkakara. When I was trying to carry my stuff including a six-pack of water home, somebody immediately stopped his car, interrupted his work and gave me a lift back to the Residence. For me, a very strange and insecure feeling, as I could not imagine somebody reacting like that in Germany without ulterior motives.
Another example for the warm-heartedness of the people is the kindness towards animals, especially cats. When walking through the streets of Malta you will see everywhere wild cats. In my home country cats which do not belong to somebody are transported in an animal home. Here the situation is different. Instead of bringing them in a sanctuary or mistreating them, what is not unusual in other Mediterranean countries, the people care for the cats. In nearly every corner you find small bowls with water and feed for the cats. In University the cats are allowed to walk through the cafeteria or can even take a seat and take part in a lecture. When driving towards Valletta I even recognized a small cottage with a big sign in front of it on which “cat café” was written.
One more significance of Malta and the people living on this island is the Maltese calmness. Imagine the following situation: The bus is already half an hour late. In my home country, people would already suffer from high blood pressure and you would see some of them, already busy tipping the service hotline of the bus company into their mobile phones in order to raise a complaint. Whereas here, people keep calm and use the time for a conversation with other people waiting for the bus. If the bus driver then stops at the next supermarket in order to get out and treat himself to a coke, this is absolutely no problem for the people sitting in the bus. Especially during the weekend but sometimes also during the working week you can observe in the middle of the crazy rush-hour traffic, a horse rushing through the streets, pulling a sulky with its proud and fearless owner – in Germany unimaginable.
I think that it is sometimes important to see the small things which might make a big difference between two countries.
I really enjoyed my time in Malta so far and also got to know myself a little bit better, as I just realized how “German” I am. I think, or at least I hope that I learned through my time here to be a little more patient in every-day situations. I hope I will be able to stop waiting eagerly in the supermarket line, looking at my watch every minute and being internally annoyed by the saleswomen who works slowly, in the future.