Have you always wondered what life was like for our compatriots in one of the smallest nations in Europe? Are they eating enough? Tgħid it-té jixorbuh fit-tazza hemmhekk ukoll? Probably not.
We’ve already been treated to a naughty glimpse into the expat scene in What Happens In Brussels Stays in Brusselsby Ġużé Stagno. But is that the full picture? Surely there must be a more cliché side to being Maltese abroad. So let’s dive in, starting with the first important question.
1. You Live Where?
“Kif sejjer Brussell? Drajt hemmhekk ħi?” Every. Time.
Your nanna will ask you this repeatedly until you just know she’s trolling you for the lolz. EU careers are so synonymous with Brussels in the collective psyche of the Maltese that no one will ever accept that you live and work in its tiny neighbour. And even if it’s been years since you’ve moved, you’ll still get asked whether you’re used to it yet.
2. You Will Beg People To Visit
“Ejja nitilgħu Amsterdam” is the best you’re gonna get from friends. Or Paris, London, Brussels.
Anywhere except Luxembourg is fair game. The country suffers from a reputation of being boring and not a place to mark on your holiday map. OK it’s no Paris, but the face of the city has been changing to accommodate a younger demographic. Recent years have seen venues sprouting all over, and there’s a fair share of events happening across the calendar.
3. But You Can Visit Anywhere!
Alright, so you’ve only managed to convince your parents to come over. Don’t start hyperventilating just yet.
Everyone knows the country is small, but just how small? Well, you can take an hour long bus ride to Trier, drive to Brussels in 2 hours or ride the TGV to Paris. That’s 3 countries in the same time it takes you to get from Qui-si-sana to Balluta. Not to mention all the towns in Belgian Wallonia and Northern France, plus a medieval castle fiesta along the Mosel river in Germany. Weekend trips ftw!
4. You Will Never Meet Luxembourgers
Where are they? It might surprise you to learn that as much as 40% of Luxembourg’s population consists of migrants, like the Maltese who settle to work here.
That number goes up to 60% in the capital, which means we OWN DA PLACE. And wow, society hasn’t collapsed, and multiculturalism works. So anyway, this means that if you ever see Luxembourgers, get ready to snap a selfie.
5. But You’ll Make So Many Friends From All Over
Luxembourg is a transit country, which means that people come and go very frequently.
Many Maltese have been here on temporary contracts and traineeships with the EU institutions or the private sector (banking and financial services). The same goes for citizens of practically all other European countries and beyond. It’s a great place to connect with an international crowd, and when your new besties leave for home, you’ll often have an open invitation to visit and stay with them. Friends with travel benefits, if you will.
6. You Can’t Unwind At The Beach After A Long Day
You will miss the sea. Yes, even if you don’t actually jump in that often. There’s something about being on the coast, spending that sweet time sipping drinks and staring at the lapping waves that just melts away all stress. No such luck in a landlocked country, dammit.
7. But There Are Freshwater Alternatives
Soak in that view of Insenborn lake. This beauty is one of the most popular swimming spots in the Grand Duchy, and the future site of an American universi… wait, oops wrong country.
8. Malta Will Seem So Affordable By Comparison
A pint of Cisk for how much? Newwilli tlieta! Everything is ridiculously priced in Luxembourg, so when we make our way down for our annual break, it’s cheap booze and more cheap booze on our nights out.
9. Any Amount Of Sun Will Roast You Instantly
Hello sunburn in March. Unless you’re one of those lucky people who keep most of their tan throughout the year, months of cloud cover will make your skin so sensitive to sun that you’ll have an identity crisis.
And let’s not talk about taking your shirt off during the obligatory Santa Marija swim. Dear lord everyone looks like a Greek sex god and you could be mistaken for beached cod fillet.
Bonus: Your Return Luggage Will Be Food
Look it’s not like Luxembourg doesn’t offer a lot in terms of international cuisine, but how can you board that plane without a massive square of mum’s imqarrun il-forn?
You know you’re dedicated to the cause when security at the airport stops you for trying to carry eight cans of Elite tuna in your hand luggage. Airport staff have also seen entire frozen rabbits and live snails make their way North, sandwiched between your regular frozen pastizzi and qagħaq tal-għasel. Nom.