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Malta: What a pleasant surprise!

Etienne - Twilight in Malta

I came to Malta for a few months because I wanted to explore a country that is in many ways different from my home – France. There were some aspects of Malta that I had been aware of – others that were genuinely new to me.

 

The Maltese: Children of the sun

It is a scientifically proven fact that  sunny climates have a positive effect on the physical and mental health of its those who soak them up on a daily basis. This I can vouch for: Although there were some occasions when I missed my loved ones back home, I could count on any form of encounter with Maltese people to put a smile on my face. Whether at work (where the atmosphere was always jovial) or at the beach, or simply going about my daily routine,  a consistent atmosphere of cheer and jolliness kept my mood up.

Etienne - Azure Ultra event

I will not venture to say you’ll always see a smile on the faces of the locals; this all however changes once you initiate any form of conversation – it is at this point that you will be showered with sympathy and hospitality. Men in the street seem polite, but reserved; I must admit that with the Maltese women I encountered, smiles came more naturally, which I found to be a heartening and warm gesture!

Kudos goes to the owners of all the small convenience stores I visited – they are are never hesitant to remind you that life is beautiful if they see that you’re bothered in any way.

Safety

Perhaps this is only surprising to me as an individual who comes from a larger country where, due to a series of events, feeling safe is not always guaranteed. Beyond that, I have conversed with other expats from a range of other countries including Australia who also shared their incredulity as to how safe Malta is. The crime rate is very low, and wandering through streets after dark is perfectly normal. For me, this meant getting to enjoy the ambience of Malta late at night – something which, to me, was highly liberating.

Etienne - Maltese street

The Food

Pastizzi. It is the one food item that welcomes any foreigner to Malta and kicks their diet out of the window. It is this little, highly addictive thing that is available in almost any stand or café in Malta. You take one bite, and your only next option is to take another until you find yourself on the third one. The real shock however comes when your friendly colleague casually tells you each one is around 400 calories. Because the Maltese are have a wicked sense of humour, they have decided to introduce a number of varieties: pea mousse, peppermint pumpkin, chicken and mint, light and fluffy ricotta, cinnamon apple, lemon-walnut cream and many others. How does one diet here?

 

Pastizzi_u_Qassatat

Pastizzi

Maltese wine comes in a a number of varieties. Whether you are a connoisseur or not , from the very first sip you will be captivated  by the balance of flavours. This is what happened to me a dozen times.

All meals can be accompanied by the heavenly Maltese bread, making me regularly forget the French baguette.

The island is home to many  delicatessens and  supermarkets offering quality products (thank you Sicily : you will never see a more beautiful array of mozzarella or parmesan).  Restaurants  also abound offering tempting menus  covering a broad spectrum of cuisines.

Nightlife

Paceville is the Kingdom of cheaply bought alcohol, last minute table reservations and uninterrupted evening-to-morning partying. As I was warned, the streets of Paceville were invaded by teenagers who came (officially) to learn English and (unofficially) to party as much as they possible can before their body gives out.

Still, as a 24-year-old man, it was not hard to find a couple of nice spots where the atmosphere is a bit more refined. A number of small bars tucked away in corners have a pleasant, warm ambience and transmute into the perfect spot for conversation later in the evening. The entire island has a strong real electro culture and you will not find a grocery store or a taxi without deep house music in the background.

The Language

Malta has been host to a large number of foreign powers throughout history, and this effectively means that its culture takes a bit from every Mediterranean country and blends everything together into one cocktail.  Of course, Malta has been most recently a colony of the British Empire, and therefore most people speak English reasonably well. To me this was a lifesaver – I simply can’t imagine myself having to learn Maltese!

All in all my experience in Malta has been a positive one. No i’d say more than positive. Malta has by far exceeded my expectations and I can see that it hold lots of potential for other expats like me to build a life here. 

Etienne - Malta coastline


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