My experience in Malta started when I arrived from an afternoon flight that due to the length of it (around 2500 kilometres) and the time zone difference I arrived at 7 to my flat not too far from the University. I met my new housemate Veronika, of Czech Republic, who promptly asked me if I fancied food. Being Malta at the mid-to-back end of summer I had already started to sweat in the humid heat, so I explained that I’d be ready after a quick shower! Before I could unpack anything I had gone out for what would be my first night out in Malta.
After a few days settling myself into a spacious flat, gathering food from the numerous markets, ‘super’-markets and not so super back of vans, it was time to hit the University. I had signed up for the EILC course in Maltese. Us Brits are renowned (infamous even) for our blasé attitude toward the learning of foreign languages, which I think makes others more appreciative of when we actually DO decide to make the effort. I signed up for the course with this in mind, with also the opportunity to make new friends before the semester had even started, it was my best decision before coming to Malta without a doubt - I met 5 friends that lasted me through the year. We all lived nearby one another and would spend the year enjoying all Malta had to bring together. Two of my EILC course friends complained about their ‘hotel’ on the first day – they arrived late, hot and flustered – before the end of the day they had joined me in my apartment (I don’t mean for a drink, or a chat, they had moved in!).
Before coming to Malta I had made the promise to myself to keep up with my basketball. During my second year and summer at Warwick I represented the Wales U20 team in tournaments in Scotland (against the Scottish and Irish national teams) and in Belgium (against club teams from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Holland and England). Being as successful as we were in these tournaments gave many of us a chance to train alongside the Wales senior national team, I was looking forward to returning and becoming a part of it. Initially I had contacted, with details supplied be the senior coach of Wales, the Maltese Basketball Association president. He alerted me to a 1st division club that had struggled in the previous season that trained in the area, Loyola. I trained with Loyola for a week or two, struggling to sign on for complicated (and I mean complicated!) reasons. Then I remembered that during the Erasmus induction session there had been another club advertising a trial session in the coming week. I attended and with more complications behind me was playing for Athleta, who were unbeaten at this point. I trained amongst many of the Maltese national team (opponents to Wales in Division C of the euros) throughout the year, we were the “dream team” – our rivals would scoff, but the less said about that the better! I had an amazing time playing with an great group of guys that really pushed me, it can only benefit me in the future.
Studying maths and economics at Warwick allowed me (with a little ingenuity) to study a range of maths and economics modules in Malta. The university somewhat specialised in joint degrees, which suited me perfectly! I took modules that I can categorise in 2 ways:
Those that I believed would truly interest me, those that I would like to learn more about and not have the pressure to achieve highly in.
Those that the University of Malta specialised in, courses that would be otherwise unavailable not only at Warwick, but many UK institutions also.
With my mish-mash of subjects underway, I could quickly see that though the modules were easier.. I had to do about twice as many of them as I would have to do back home, the year provided me with an array of interesting modules that I really enjoyed learning. Some of which I believe prepared me for what I have coming in my final year at Warwick, but that remains to be seen.
I cannot stress enough the positive attitude I felt from around me during my stay in Malta, the locals, the students, the Erasmus folk that were in my shoes but weighed down a little/lot more by their respective language barriers and my basketball team, Athleta, national champions.
So I had come back at the true height of summer; the streets were crowded with tourists (all these visitors to MY country!) and the sweltering heat was relentlessly beating down behind me. I returned to Britain to work for the summer leaving behind so many fond memories, even fonder friends from across Europe and perhaps the most adventurous part of my life thus far. Who did I find when returning to Oxford for a night out before hitting The City to start work? One of my fellow Maltese maths students, some things in this life are just impossible to believe.