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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Lauren in Malta

Lauren Giurini ’20 is a Mathematics and Neuroscience major studying in Malta.

Hi, my name is Lauren Giurini and I am studying Mathematics and Neuroscience at Lake Forest. This semester I am studying in Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean near Italy! I have wanted to visit Europe since my first years in high school, so this is a long awaited dream! Malta is very different from the United States in many aspects, and adjusting to the new culture took me a couple of weeks. The first big difference I encountered between Malta and the United States was the accessibility of clean water. Due to the fact that Malta does not have any rivers, the tap water is just desalinated sea water. Since this process leaves the water heavy in minerals, the water does not taste good and often makes people sick. Not only is buying bottled water a necessity, but ordering water at restaurants is not free and sometimes just as expensive as buying a coffee or soft drink! Additionally, the healthcare! and educational systems in Malta are very different than in the United States. Just last weekend I needed to visit a doctor, and was amazed that I didn’t have to pay for my visit. This is because Malta has free public health care. I was able to see a doctor (without an appointment) and obtain a prescription in about an hour and a half, on a Saturday! Another shocking moment was when I found out that full-time students at the University of Malta get paid to pursue their degree. Upon meeting other European study-abroad students, I found out that education is much cheaper all across Europe (approximately ten times cheaper than the United States!). Despite these large structural differences, the biggest challenge for me is adapting to the grading system in Malta. My final grade in most of my classes will be determined by one cumulative final exam and there are no assignments or exams throughout the semester. I find it much more difficult to budget enough time for studying each week, knowing that my test is not for 4 months! Overall, I ! am so thankful for this experience thus far, and for the flight award making the travel expenses less of a burden. I have already gained a new perspective regarding access to healthcare and education, and I hope to continue growing!