Written by Belle de Jong
The first question people ask me when talking about studying abroad is: “why Malta?” It’s a logical question – universities in the Netherlands, where I am from, belong to the top-ranking universities in the world and are relatively cheap. Why go to a Mediterranean island where education standards are way lower?
The short answer, to which I often respond, is simple. The main language in Malta is English. The university offers a lot of courses, so I could easily find a course that suited me. Tuition is free. The Maltese islands enjoy eight months of summer.
Although I can summarise all the reasons in a few words, making the decision to go to Malta was actually a long and challenging process. Choosing to study abroad may have been easy, finding a university and a study that exactly fitted what I wanted wasn’t.
As a 17-year-old girl, living in a tiny Dutch village with about 3000 inhabitants, I was ready for adventure. I had just graduated high school and seventeen years in my home country had been enough – I wanted to escape the Netherlands.
It took me ages to figure out what I wanted to do and where I would go. I had traveled before, but living abroad and especially studying abroad is something different. Starting your bachelor abroad is a long-term commitment – most bachelors are three or four years, some even take longer. Besides, the study you choose to do also affects your future.
What made life easier was that I knew what I wanted to study. After doing lots of career tests and study orientation programs in high school, I figured out I wanted to do something with communication. I like writing, creating and creativity, but I also love to study and do research.
So how did I look for studies abroad?
I had several criteria, the first being language. Speaking Dutch, English, and French, the choice was easy. In my high school I was partially taught in English and as it is (one of) the most international languages, English it was.
While looking for universities where English was the main language, I stumbled upon many prestigious universities in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I also came across several private universities in places such as Spain and Dubai, but there was one problem: money. Tuition fees in those countries are crazy – most universities ask for about 30.000 euros per year, but it can be even more.
I could study in the Netherlands for just a fraction of the cost, where universities are just as good or even better. All my friends were studying in the Netherlands, and to be honest, it would have been a good option. If you are not Dutch yourself, I would definitely recommend studying in Amsterdam or Utrecht (or anywhere else). But I had been there for too long.
But I wasn’t just going to give up. I listed every single country that I would possibly want to go to. Then I looked up all the public universities in those countries, see whether the bachelors were provided in English, and then see if there were any bachelors regarding communication studies.
It took me a while, but I ended up with some choices in Scandinavia, Budapest, and France. Somewhere at the bottom of the list was Malta. The website of the University of Malta was poor at the time, and I couldn’t understand anything about the study system nor the tuition fees, but I was happy to have it as a backup plan.
After contacting the university, I figured out that tuition was completely free for EU students for the majority of the courses. It suddenly struck me that this island might actually be the perfect place to do my bachelor. The weather was perfect (better than Sweden or Budapest), the tuition fees were non-existent, and the main language of both the island and the university are English.
I ended up applying for Communication Studies at the University of Malta. Throughout time, studying at the University of Malta became more and more attractive. I looked up pictures, travel guides, students that studied at the university and some basics of the Maltese language.
After graduation, while I was partying with friends and backpacking with my boyfriend, I received the acceptance letter from the University of Malta. I was ready to actually start planning my studies! Everything finally fell into its place, after almost a year of searching and a lifetime of dreaming. Today I am actually living on this amazing Mediterranean island, I am enrolled in a course that I love and enjoying the sun daily.
So why Malta? That is the long answer. My short answer is that I decided to go to Malta because the main language is English, the university offers Communication Studies (and almost every other study you can imagine), tuition is free, and the islands are amazing!