Article by: Shahd Elmelik
My name is Marloes and I am 23 years old.
I am from the Netherlands and I am currently studying the MA Humanitarian Action at the University of Malta. I have previously studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa as an exchange student, and I have also worked and lived in Ethiopia. Hence, I was not really nervous about coming here. Yet, moving to Malta was a completely new experience for me. In the beginning of the year I was pretty much confused about everything. The university works very differently from the way universities work back home. I was not really in touch with Maltese students who could explain to me how everything worked, and most importantly, why some things are the way they are. Luckily, since our class was small and we became close very quickly, we were able to adjust fast! Our course coordinator was also very involved and helped us in overcoming bureaucratic hurdles and administrative issues.
Studying Humanitarian Action at the university is different from most other courses. The program exists of full-time students (like me), and semester-students from the NOHA Program, who switch university after 4 months. Out of the 33 students in the second semester, we had 4 Maltese students. Although we are friends, the Maltese students have their own friend-groups, families, networks, basically their entire life here. This makes it a bit more difficult to integrate into the Maltese community and the Maltese way of life. In addition to this, migration in Malta is quite a sensitive issue. Therefore, it can be tricky to explain what I study or where I work to locals. As a result, most of my friends are internationals.
Nevertheless, I am really enjoying my time here in Malta and I have actually decided to stay for my 3rd semester as well. As Malta is so small, we were lucky to have lectures from influential people in the field of humanitarian action, migration and even politics.
In addition to this, I love the fact that Malta is so multi-cultural. I live in Hamrun and it’s one of my favorite parts of the island (so many good places to eat). Moreover, coming from a country where the weather is mostly grey and rainy, the climate in Malta is also a definite plus. Lastly, Humanitarian Action is taught at many different universities, however, the situation in Malta gives a unique opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience on the ground. For this reason, I am very happy I decided to come to Malta.