Article by: Ana Ferreira
My name is Chaimaa and I am 25 years old. Moving countries changed me. Living by yourself here in Malta is not easy at all. It is so different from living at home with your parents. I feel like with all the experience I’ve got here in Malta I’ve built up a new personality. I am more flexible, I understand right now that people are different, and I try to adapt to it, which I think is pretty cool.
At first, I really loved it here. I came during summertime, so it was beautiful and sunny. I got to know students from different nationalities, studies were not that bad at all so in the beginning I really loved it. And I still do.
The Maltese people are not that different to Arabs, I can relate to them a lot, so there wasn’t a big cultural shock to me. We kind of have the same culture even though we have different religions. I feel that there are many similarities. The first is the language, when I hear two Maltese speak to each other, I will understand 60% of it, which I think is pretty good. Maltese are welcoming and warm, they remind me of Moroccans.
Of course, I’ve had my ups and downs here. At first, I had visa problems. After three months I had to extend my visa because my MBA program was a yearlong. I applied, and everything was fine, but I waited a whole 8 months without any visa, which in other words meant that I could not move from Malta, I could not go home, I couldn’t travel or go anywhere. Then I had some family issues and I really badly wanted to go home and be with my family, but unfortunately, I couldn’t.
I took my card and went to ask how long it would take. I talked to this guy, at the reception. He asked for my blue paper number and said it was still under process. Then he asked me for how long I would be studying. I said for one year. The response was “alright just finish your studies and go back home.” I felt very bad. This happened 2 years ago, but I can still remember it perfectly. When you are back home, and you deal with your own people in administration, you don’t feel that much difference. But when you are abroad and see such behaviour from people, it’s pretty shocking.
Being in school helped my integration process. There were a lot of students who had visa problems, it wasn’t just me. The program was pretty good, whenever we needed support we had good tutors, a great library when it came to studies, I felt like we had full support and that we were equal to the Maltese students. I got a chance to work as a part-timer at the school, which was pretty nice, so I didn’t feel any difference just because I am Moroccan.
Now I work in a private company, I am so great full for that office, I couldn’t ask for any more support. They supported me throughout the visa process and they still do. I feel like I am a part of Malta. Now I feel like my feet are on the ground, people at the office are so nice, it feels like we’re a family. I have a lot of friends, it almost feels like I have a little Maltese in me now. But at the end of the day Morocco will always be Morocco and it will always be my home, nothing can replace that regardless of how much stuff I have to go through.