I think my companions and I might be the first Oxford program students to spend their long weekend break in Malta, but after our experience, I doubt we will be the last. For those who don’t know, Malta is a series of small islands located in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Sicily. According to my Strategic Management professor, the country was very important for the British in World War II. So important, that the then-king awarded the entire country with the George Cross for the heroism of its people during an extremely dangerous time. The fact that Malta was a military fort is evident by the prevalence of cannons and thick, sandstone walls that surround its cities.
How I ended up spending my 4-day break in a country I couldn’t even have pointed to on a map before now (sad, but true) is still unbeknownst to me. The original plan was to go to Ibiza, the party capital of the world. We wanted to spend our days at the beach and our nights partying hard, all tied together with adventures you wouldn’t want your mother to know about. In short, an ideal college vacation…or so we thought. Instead, eleven of us ended up booking a long weekend stay on an island we all had to look up on Wikipedia. All credit can be paid to Chris who suggested it, a guy who doesn’t even attend Georgetown and isn’t even a part of our program. It didn’t take much convincing because the trip was relatively inexpensive, even considering the exchange rate.
After three weeks at Oxford, a short walk, two trains, and a plane ride we were finally in MALTA! It was dark when we arrived, but we were greeted by the warm sea air and could hardly contain our excitement. We literally stopped at the hotel for a total of 15 minutes, and then out we went. Our hotel (that’s right, hotel not hostel) was located in the center of Malta’s nightlife. Music blared from every direction and the streets were just filled with people: mainly Italians, but some Spaniards, British and even a few Africans. I am pretty sure we were the only Americans to be seen for miles, quite a change from Trinity College where practically everyone is an American student. The clubs and bars don’t charge cover fees, so we pretty much roamed wherever we pleased.
Despite the fact that we did not spend a hundred percent of our time as a complete group, our days took on a certain routine. We spent the mornings exploring the different cities of Malta before it got too hot. Valletta the capital and Mdina were two favorites. Then, we would lounge by the hotel’s rooftop pool until dinner, after which we would hit the clubs. It was the perfect mix of tourism and relaxation.
The last four days have been spent in a wonderful haven filled with sunshine and clear skies, a much welcomed vacation from England’s signature overcast weather. Being at Oxford has taught me that the best I can hope for is a high of 65 degrees and no rain, but I digress. In Malta, I got to dance the night away as well as explore a new place. Not everything went as planned, but nothing could have ruined this trip for me. To describe this vacation in one word: spectacular.
Moral of the Story: Studying abroad is about being spontaneous and doing the unexpected because some of life’s best moments occur during unplanned situations.