Article by Ana Ferreira
My name is Jolene and I am 25 years old. I studied accounting at the University of Malta and now I work as an auditor in an international company.
I love how safe Malta is and how close to my family I always am. No matter where I go to in my country, I am surrounded by people I know. At times that is also difficult, Malta is a very small country and sometimes it does feel like it is closing down on you.
I love to walk along the sea, and the fact that here I can go for a swim almost at any moment during the year, but I also love discovering new places. I like to do things that are new to me, to challenge myself.
I thought of going temporarily for work outside of Malta, to experience being surrounded by different people. I think it is very positive to mix around with people different from you, with different backgrounds and perspectives. I would like to pursue that challenge; it is an opportunity to grow.
I come from Gozo and our society is so community driven that all your neighbours want to know what is going on around them. When there is any problem, everyone mobilises to help one another. People are not inherently nosy or do it with a bad intention, it is just that they are living in a closed environment.
In Gozo we grow up with a sense of location. As a child I thought Gozo existed and I would not think of anywhere else but the other island I would sometimes travel to. After almost 8 years living in Malta, coming to study and then work and visiting my family over the weekend, it does feel different. There are more people to meet, more cultural mixes than there are in Gozo.
Gozo is calmer, quieter, the community is more strongly knit. In the beginning, my friends and I coming from Gozo to study here in Malta, we used to stick together and not mingle much with other people, even others from Malta. With the passing of time, spending hours together in class, you naturally start to mix.
In my class at University, unfortunately, we did not have many foreigners as colleagues, only for short term, as Erasmus students. At the University there are many international people, but not in my course.
So, it was actually when I started working that I got truly exposed to a multicultural environment. In my company I have colleagues from all over the world, mostly from outside Europe, and that has been an amazing experience for me. You learn a lot with others, their different ways of looking at things, the cultural background and personal traits they bring along. Working with people from other countries made me become more open and know more about other cultures.
Multiculturalism is one of the greatest things one can experience. I do not think it is healthy to always stay in your comfort zone. If you do that, you are not exploring different mindsets that make you learn so much, including about yourself.
Our previous generations would be living in a closed family environment, they did not mix, and would seldom meet with people from other countries like we on the other hand daily do. In our generation we need to be more open minded to people from different origins we come to encounter. Especially in Southern Europe, which is often the gateway to Europe, we most certainly come across people from various origins. We need to be open to hear them out and understand that it is people like us we are meeting. In the end of the day, we are all human beings, with our own experiences and things to share, we are all equal.