My name is Sofia, I am 28 years old and I come from Russia.
It is now four years, one month and twelve days exactly since I first arrived in Malta. I know because I am in countdown mode. I still need to finish my studies, that is why I am stuck on this island.
My greatest shock when I arrived in Malta was the size. I found everything so small, the apartments, the landscape, the shops, the variety of products, everything! In Russia everything is so big and wide… I still feel claustrophobic when I think of it, I feel I am in a closed small rock in the middle of the sea.
Nonetheless, Malta is a nice place. People enjoy their own pace, they are never in a hurry. The Maltese are friendly and warm Mediterranean people. It is different in my country. We do not have the habit of smiling at people casually in the streets. Here they smile all the time! In Russia, we are cold people, but when we do smile…it is very meaningful.
I first came to Malta to study English, but then I realised that the best way to learn English is to study another subject that is taught in English. That is why I entered the Institute of Tourism Studies. As soon as I have my diploma I am ready to leave. But it is true that I learnt a lot from my studies here, even though it was not exactly what I expected.
There are also some challenges in order for you to feel fully integrated in a class. Lectures are held in English but then if the group discussions with colleagues are in Maltese…You feel like an outsider or, like I did, you feel bad because you have the impression that you are forcing people to change and speak English only because of you.
However, the biggest difficulties I faced in Malta were work-related. You have to wait for your work permit and it is not easy to get one. You need 23 different papers, all of which need to be collected from a different place, they all come at a cost and sometimes it takes weeks to get a single stamp. You have to re-start this long procedure every 8 months. Then you need to wait, and you do not know for how long. I do not know how people survive… Also, these procedures stop you from self-developing, you cannot travel or visit your family, even if something serious happens.
I would like to find a place where I feel home, where I can settle down, have a dog, very simple things. I am still looking for that place where I feel happy. Malta is not that place for me, even if I have had a good experience here.
I am a Northern girl, that is one of the things I found out about myself while living in Malta. As soon as a cold breeze comes, I just get energy out of nothing. This is one of the reasons why I want to move out of Malta. I can adapt to anything but the climate.
Interview by Ana Ferreira