by Emma Galea
My name is Emma Galea and I am a student at the University of Malta where I’m studying a B.A. in English (Hons). Ever since my sixth form days, I had always heard about these students that were going abroad on Erasmus for a whole semester. This concept always intrigued me so it was only natural that I eventually ended up studying at the University of Limerick in Ireland for the autumn semester.
At first I must admit I was really skeptical about the whole situation. The thought of going to live in a totally different country for almost 4 months all by myself, being away from my family and close friends really scared me. However, after a few nudges from my friends and talking to previous students that went to the same university I got the courage to finally make the decision to go. It was all worth it in the end as I ended up having one of the best experiences of my life!
We were a total of six Maltese students in Ireland, all studying at Limerick. This really helped me feel less alone and I also felt a sense of community. Before we left we were already helping each other to settle everything. Paper work can really be quite the hassle! We ended up becoming really close friends throughout our time there and went out together very often. I will be forever grateful for their great friendship and all the great memories we made there.
Speaking of friendship, Erasmus was definitely an amazing way to make international friends. The international community on campus was really huge with a bunch of people from each corner of the earth. As I was residing on campus in my house alone we were six people all of different nationalities including American, Finnish, German, French and Brazilian. We got along famously. Apart from them I made friends with a bunch of other international students. Everyone was super friendly and wanted to have fun and we surely did. I can honestly say I made genuine friendships that will last a lifetime even though we are living in different countries and continents!
There was also an international society on campus that organized all sorts of trips every weekend for us all over Ireland. These trips were amazing and I visited almost every possible tourist attraction in Ireland.
The cities of Dublin and Galway were so lively whilst the Irish countryside was truly something one would usually only see in fairytales. That was something I enjoyed very much since the Irish constantly gave importance to greenery. Unfortunately this is becoming uncommon in Malta with it being a constant construction site. Although, one must give credit where it is due because I missed Malta and its weather so much. In Ireland it was constantly raining and it was such a relief when I arrived back home to our wonderful sunny, Mediterranean island weather. I also hugely missed the pizza and the pasta, it simply is not the same in Ireland. I obviously missed my family, my friends and most importantly my cats but it was good to get away from them and start learning how to live independently.
Regarding teaching styles, I personally preferred the Maltese one slightly more as in Malta we are graded with exams whilst the courses I took over in Ireland were assignment based. I personally work best under pressure but this is an individual preference, so don’t rely on my opinion that much.
Overall, I would surely recommend Erasmus to anyone that crosses my path. It’s a chance and an experience of a lifetime that no one should say no to. It helps you to achieve independence, experience different cultures and make friends for a lifetime. Why would anyone say no to that?!