Gemma is studying in Malta for the next few months.

The Good Life: An ice-breaker in a storm!

Gemma certainly is living up to her namesake and living the Good Life. She's gone from Brussels, to Cavan, and is now in Malta studying for a while...

How do I explain the last few days? Arriving in Malta for my Erasmus has been a whirlwind experience, quite literally. Firstly, I didn’t know if my flight from Dublin airport would leave the runway due to the presence of drone activity in the days leading up to my departure on February 7. I wondered if it was a child playing with a toy they got from Santa or something a bit more serious. To this day I’m not much the wiser other than I know it wasn’t a child but a man carrying out disruptive activity within 5km of the airport. I thought it a bit bizarre, but each to their own.

I arrived at the airport and met my friend and her parents, who had driven from Cork that morning. After some teary goodbyes, we went on our way. I experienced an immense feeling of nostalgia throughout the airport experience. I couldn’t help but compare it to the last time I was hauling several bags around and trying to get checked in. It was May 31, when the entire country decided to book a holiday and the airport struggled to cope with the influx of people. However, I could barely see the crowd through tears. This time, all I could feel was excitement for the awaiting adventure.

We breezed through security, leaving ourselves with two hours to kill. Deciding to start the experience off on the right foot, we gave in to the temptation of the first-class lounge signs. I have seen several videos on TikTok with people raving about how amazing it is, therefore, I was very curious. We were informed there was no hot food, however unlimited coffee, drinks, and cold breakfast foods was enough for me. The lounge was amazing, it was worth the €35 we paid for it. However I don’t think we were there long enough to avail of everything – not the fault of the lounge. We didn’t use half of the facilities but chilling on cosy chairs, while sipping on coffee (and later champagne) was a far better experience than dealing with the hustle and bustle of Dublin airport. Would I do it all the time? No, but for the day that was in it, I really enjoyed. We gathered our stuff, headed to the gate and away.

We arrived in Malta in the midst of Storm Helios, which battered the small island with wind and rain. Leaving the airport, my friend from Cork and I got absolutely drenched. It was a nice homely feeling to be honest. You could tell the native people were not used to dealing with this weather, for us it was natural. We made our way to the student accommodation, discovering along the way that the Maltese public transport is not the most reliable.

For some time, I tried to find an apartment to live in. I am so happy I decided to opt for student accommodation. For any students going on Erasmus, I would really recommend it. Price wise, it is a little steep, but with all utilities included it probably works out around the same. The accommodation is beautiful, I am in a shared ensuite room with one other person, which comes with a fully equipped kitchen that is shared with around 12 people. I say around 12 because our kitchen has become the meeting point for people on several floors. This is the highlight of student accommodation for me. The kitchen here has served as the place where I can meet new people, learn about other cultures, family life in other countries, debate stereotypes, pre-drink central, cook and share foods and just laugh.

The storm lasted for the first two days of my Erasmus experience. It really brought me back to the lockdown days, however I do not look back at them with contempt. As we literally couldn’t go outside, each of us bundled into the kitchen. We chatted, we danced, we listened to music, we drank, shared photos and cooked food together. Out of all the team building activities organised throughout my time here so far, the storm has been the best.

I am no stranger to meeting new people and mixing. Thankfully it has always come quite easily to me, however I was nervous about meeting students from all over the world. I am pleasantly surprised by the people I have met out here. Each and every one of them are different in their own way but all so down to earth, humble, eager to learn and accepting of each other. This really makes such a difference and I know already the people I have met will be the highlight of my experience. We can talk about anything, from the seriousness of politics to the stupidity of our worst drunken night.

Malta itself is absolutely beautiful. As the storm cleared, I have been able to explore a bit in the past few days. The people are so friendly; smiling and greeting you in the streets. The sea, the waves and the sunshine are therapy. Each day I go walking I explore new areas, small streets, marinas, churches and the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. I am so excited for this experience. Oh, and the university is also nice (I think it’s obvious where my priorities are). I am here to study.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a third year journalism student in University of Limerick


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