Once you’ve chosen to learn English in Malta, the chances are that you’ll be arriving by plane. This means you’ll be arriving at Malta International Airport in the town of Luqa – so what do you do next?
Malta’s a small island so the good news is that wherever you’re staying it won’t take longer than half an hour to get there, and it will probably take a lot less. Depending on which type of accommodation you’ve chosen, your language school may have arranged an ‘airport transfer’ for you. This entails a driver coming to meet you at the airport, with a card with your name on it, so you can make contact with him after leaving the customs area. Once you’ve met your driver, he’ll show you to the car, and take you to your student accommodation. He will most likely have the keys for you and might also be able to answer questions about where the school is and what time you’re expected to be there on your first day. This type of transfer is optional though, except when you’re in shared student flats as the driver is often the person who has to give you your keys.
If you decide to make your own way from the airport to your accommodation – be it a shared student flat, a host family or a hotel, then you can either use public transport or one of the taxis which will be waiting outside ready to take the new arrivals to their destinations. If its public transport you’re using, then it will be a bus as Malta has no trains or underground system. Buses do operate routes from the airport to some of Malta’s most popular destinations, and night services are available. The price isn’t too expensive – usually aground €2.60 but its a little more expensive if you’re using the night service. The drivers often speak English although sometimes its not the best, and although it can be difficult to pronounce the names of some of the Maltese towns, the drivers have usually heard many strange ways of saying each town’s name, so they should know where you’re talking about.
Travelling through the busy streets of Malta will probably be a little disorientating as it looks quite unlike other parts of Europe. The buildings have flat roofs, cars drive on the left hand side of the road, and there’s often a lot of traffic on the roads as Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. When the sun rises the next day, you’ll start to get your bearings though. It’s a very small country and you’ll soon find out that there isn’t a great distance between towns. You may be standing in st Julian’s and someone tells you that there’s a good restaurant in ‘Spinola Bay’ – people from other countries often assume this will mean getting in a car and driving for a while as its another town, but its only a few minutes walk away. The neighboring town of Sliema is only a twenty five minute walk from St Julian’s along the coast, and you’ll pass the town of Ballutta on the way – nothing’s very far, and there isn’t any empty space between most towns.
Like anywhere else, getting to know your new local town will help a lot, and you school will be able to give you a map and give you information about nearby restaurants, beaches, and where you can find WIFI etc. Remember that all the other new students will be in the same position as you, and exploring a new town together is a great way to get to know other people as well as practice the English you’re learning. Lots of your learning actually takes place outside the classroom, and with Malta being a largely English speaking country, it’s an ideal place to be.