Article by Sofie Bindner
“My name is Husam and I am 19 years old. I am a first-year medicine student at the University of Malta.
Malta is surprisingly multicultural, so initially it was very easy for me to integrate. I guess I had help, there is an Omani community, so we all know each other. It is not home away from home, but it is still something close to it. All the small gestures really made me feel welcome. For my first year I was in my foundation program and there were only international students, they were all Omani, Kuwaiti and a few others. But now I have had the opportunity to integrate with the Maltese students. At first it was hard but going to events and being in smaller classes with mostly Maltese students was really good and helped me talk to them and integrate.
The young people here are very modern. They recognise that there is an international student and try to make an effort to make us feel a part of the class. They respect and that is something I really like.
Recently I went to a school event and wore a shirt, a Kitenge, a traditional shirt from Zanzibar and that area. I had a lot of people coming up to me asking about it. It was nice to be recognised for something different. It started conversations and raised curiosity, they wanted to learn more about it. I would love it if people knew about Oman. Oman and Kenya. Oman is not a very common place, but we do have a lot of great aspects to our culture.
My sense of identity has changed along the time. I came here with a lot of energy, but then I had to go through a year where I realised life was not what I expected it to be… So, I had to go through that disappointment phase. After that, somehow, I found my way. The person I was before and the person that I am now is very different. I made a lot of mistakes.
Identity is hard to define for me. I feel more Omani, but there are parts of me that I can’t deny. I guess it is partly where I was born, I am part Omani and part Kenyan, but at the same time I have this sense that I am not just part of those countries where I am ethnically from, I am part of something bigger. Basically, a citizen of the world.
I think identity is more than one thing. You can be multiple things at the same time if you want to. I definitely identify as more than one thing. I feel that if we put ourselves in one box, we do not allow ourselves to do much, we are constricting ourselves. The idea of identity, I don’t think I really like that word, I find it restrictive. I can choose to be whomever I want, whenever I deem necessary.
The best thing about being in Malta is finding myself, that is the most important thing. The mentality in Oman and Kenya is very different to here. I grew up in Kenya, but I always felt more like an Omani living in Kenya. Here people are more down to earth. The vibe is very different, I cannot describe it, there are very small differences, but all together they make a big difference. I love the vibe in Oman. It is very welcoming, it is something that you feel immediately when you get there. I just lived there for two years, but I feel it, I feel Omani. In Kenya I did not feel completely Omani, but I did not feel Kenyan, I was somewhere in between. That might be why I see identity as a more floating thing. But when I went to Oman, I became fully Omani. I constricted myself for a while, but now I have opened up. It has influenced my decision to travel after my studies. If I had closed myself to one sort of identity, I would have gone back to Oman. I plan on seeing more of the world before going home. I want to travel around, gather ideas, gather knowledge, see and experience and share it when I am back home.“