I studied abroad at UoM for the 2008 - 2009 academic year via a direct exchange through my university (George Mason University). Initially, I was looking for a program that would allow me to take courses in my major (anthropology) at an English speaking university -- yet I still wanted to go off the beaten path. Malta was a great compromise -- though admittedly I hadn't even heard of the island before deciding to study abroad there! Overall, it was a great experience -- though not without its ups and downs -- but I have nothing but great things to say about the staff, support, and quality of my study abroad program.
Most of my courses were quite good, and I was able to take a lot of anthropology courses -- which were super interesting given that I was for once studying another culture while being in another culture. Class sizes were small (for my major at least), and over the course of a year, I got to know my professors and the other few anthropology students at UoM pretty well. It was very immersive.
However, some of the classes were hit or miss. I had one professor state "I just kind of make it up as I go," so I dropped that course!
Sometimes, professors would switch into Maltese (unintentionally) when teaching, but were usually pretty understanding when myself or one of the other students raised our hands to ask them to switch back to English (technically the language of instruction at the university).
Another thing to keep in mind is that given the way UoM is structured, it was sometimes difficult to take courses outside of my major. For example, I wanted to take a creative writing course but was told that that particular course was only open to English majors. Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind if you're trying to plan out which credits to get done while abroad.
I ended up not staying at the University Residence with the rest of the foreign students (since Malta is so small, most local students continue to live with their families while in college, and well after, so there aren't any official student dorms). Instead, I got an apartment off campus with a couple of other foreign students. Again, the only local students living in apartments tend to be those commuting from Gozo, Malta's smaller island, and they tend to just stay in the Msida / Gzira area for the week, and go home on the weekends.
The university is about an hour walk / 20 minute bus ride from Valletta, the capitol, and from St. Paul / Paceville / St. Julien -- where most students go for a night out. Staying around the area was nice and super convenient for getting around, though I felt like I missed out on a lot of the socialization that those staying at the University Residence got to be a part of.
UoM / the Erasmus reps do organize social events for exchange students though. Definitely go and get to meet other students!
Also while I was there, the staff at UoM helped me set up a weekly volunteer job working with refugees at the Refugee Camp in Marsa through the Red Cross. It was fantastic to get to see a side of Malta I wouldn't have otherwise, and I'd highly recommend looking into a volunteer position if you're there for the full academic year. For just a semester, it might not be enough time.
Getting around Malta with just English was perfectly fine. Everyone speaks Maltese and English. Cost of living in Malta is super cheap. If you're looking for a more budget study abroad destination, Malta is it. At the same time, it is very, very, very small and can feel that way sometimes.
- Pastizzi (delicious and cheap snack!) and Ftira sandwiches.
- A visit to the blue grotto
- Wine bars in Valetta
- A night out in Paceville -- I especially loved the reggae bar!
- Getting to know your Maltese classmates :)
- Birgufest in Birgu / Vittoriosa.
- Carnival on Gozo
- Films at the cultural center in Valetta