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Sjoerd during his internship on Malta

Sjoerd: "Try and befriend some Maltese people, they know the island best and usually own a car. So especially in the beginning, they can show you around and help you to get to know the place."

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Sjoerd from the Netherlands to Malta: “Maltese food is strongly influenced by Italian cuisine. Yum.” 

I’m Sjoerd and I live near Arnhem. I did an internship with a financial company on Malta for six months.

What was the first thing you thought when you got off the plane? (bus/train/car)

How exotic the island looked. Palm trees everywhere outside of the airport. Also, I wasn’t that relaxed when I got off the plane as my landlord would pick me up but didn’t show. So I had to figure that out as well. Ah, that Malta life.

What was the most shocking difference between your home country and your new country?

Not sure there was one shocking difference. The whole atmosphere on the island is more relaxed and things are less organised than at home.  More chaotic, for instance the traffic. Everyone is honking in their cars when they approach an intersection instead of slowing down to let people know they are coming.

Did you ever feel homesick? How did you cope with this?

Only during the two first weeks, because I knew nobody and was kind of lonely. I coped by actively trying to approach people and that worked out great. A lot of the other Dutch interns I met during my time there, I still hang out with. This year, we went on a little reunion trip to Portugal!

Did you feel at home in your new country? Why (not)?

A bit. It is a pretty small island (size of Texel) and everything is easily accessible by bus or even on foot. The weather is nice and the people are friendly. They also have a large international community. These are all factors that made it such a great place to live in.

However, due the fact that it is also such a chaotic and disorganized place in some aspects it never really felt like home somehow. This can be just a personal thing, as I don’t usually feel at home when I’m in a different country.

Please give us tips about who to befriend when living abroad. The Russians? The Irish? The Chileans? (Honestly, we want to know some gossip about other internationals you’ve met.)

Try and befriend some Maltese people, they know the island best and usually own a car. So especially in the beginning, they can show you around and help you to get to know the place. As far as the international community goes, there were a lot of Dutch people when I was there. So it was really easy for me to get to know new people. Other internationals were Libyans, who were usually pretty nice but could also come on pretty strong sometimes. The Russians stereotypically drank a lot. The others (mostly Spanish and Italian people) were all pretty easy going, which was nice.

Describe the inhabitants of the new country in three words.

Friendly, passionate (just listen to their Maltese conversations) and relaxed (everything is a little slower than you’re used to, but everyone is okay with that so they adapt).

Was there a type of local food you could NOT handle?

Not really, mostly influenced by Italian cuisine and also a lot of pastry (which I both liked).

What did you learn from your experience abroad? Was it the loving community you liked? The cheap cocktails? The overwhelming nature? Or was the experience less helpful than expected? Details, we want details!

I learned to be more independent. Actively try and get to know new people (this is what made my experience such a blast). The nature is pretty amazing (for instance the islands above Malta, Comino and Gozo). The nightlife on Malta is also really good! The liquor is cheap, beer prices are similar to in the Netherlands. There’s lots of bars and clubs in St Julian’s. This area is known as Paceville and is located on the east side of the island (a 30-minute drive from the capital Valletta). If you want a relaxed life full of friendly people and cheap partying, you should definitely consider Malta.