Lars Buikes wrote about his personal experience while he was on Malta for his internship. He describes his findings, cultural differences he experiences and shares his opinion without bias. Therefore his blog was the winning 'curious people blog', enjoy reading!
Going on an internship in a foreign country is a scary, but also exciting event. I love the idea of visiting new places and experiencing different kinds of cultures and habits. One of these things that is often full of cultural experiences, are celebrations. Think about ‘Independence day’ in the United States, ‘Bastille day’ in France, or ‘Liberation day’ (Bevrijdingsdag) in the Netherlands. All these celebrations are very festive and fun, that is for sure, but it also has deep roots with the culture and the historic events that happened on these days. So, how nice would it be to immediately start of you internship, with one of these celebrations? Let’s find out.
When I first arrived In Malta, the celebration of Santa Maria was in full glory in the streets of Valetta, Sliema, St. Julian’s and many other cities on Malta. There were lots of decorations, food stalls, and in the evening even fireworks. I wasn’t sure what exactly was being celebrated, so I inquired the locals about this. To my surprise I ended up hearing 2 different stories, which both are considered correct.
The first one is the ascension of virgin Mary into Heaven. Since Malta is a Roman Catholic Island, this is obviously an important day for them. There are 395 churches in Malta and most people are religious or have a connection with religion. However, the second story is definitely not unimportant either. During the second world war, the Mediterranean waters were patrolled by German battle ships. Because of these, many cargo ships and convoys ended up on the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. Slowly the supplies on Malta decreased and food became scarce. But there was still hope that one day, a ship shall enter the Ports of Valletta again. On the 15th of august, the Santa Marija convoy, half sunk and damaged, was able to enter the port of Valletta. Because of their arrival, Malta did not have to surrender. A critical moment in the Maltese history.
Apart from the celebration I was able to meet many native Maltese people and realised very quickly that Malta has a very Interesting and caring community. A nice example of this was when I first arrived in my apartment. My Maltese landlord wanted to give me a small tour through the neighbourhood to get me acquainted with my neighbourhood, Swieqi. However, we ended up driving all the way to Valletta, while he pointed out all the great restaurants. This showed me how proud he was of being Maltese and passing on the Maltese culture to outsiders.
According to Hofstede, Malta scores average on the individualism dimension with a score of 59. This means that the Maltese people are able to take care of themselves and their families, but in the examples mentioned above, you see that they also are willing to help those in need. Even when they do not get something in return, they still help each other out. This gives Malta a very communal feeling. During these first 2 weeks I have learned a lot about the historical culture of Malta as well as the recent culture. The Maltese people are very thoughtful and will help each other out without a second thought. Because of this, I feel motivated to be part of this community and do my part wherever needed. Malta might be a small Island, but it has a big heart!
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