Carnivale: arguably the biggest party in Europe and definitely the biggest surprise I experienced during my entire time abroad. Carnivale is a celebration that happens before Lent and is a weekend, or sometimes week-long, party that happens in multiple countries around the world. Little did my friends and I know that we would get to experience it as some of the only Americans in the country of Malta.
During the first week of studying abroad, I met my best friends. We had just returned from a group trip to Belgium and wanted to plan another trip before our schedules all got too busy. The destination was hard to choose at first because a few girls in the group had been to Europe before and didn't want to go to the mainstream places, and we were also trying to find somewhere cheap that fit into all of our budgets. Randomly and to the confusion of all of us alike, we decided to book a trip to the tiny and lesser-known country of Malta.
On the day we left for the trip, we were all excited but unsure of what we would see in the country. We knew it was off the coast of Sicily and mainland Italy so it would have Italian food, and we knew it would have beaches because it was an island country, but that was about it. Little did we know it would be the most fun place we visited during our time abroad.
We arrived early in the morning and, after checking into our hostel, took the ferry to the main island of Valletta. Once we got there we heard music blasting and saw a massive group of people huddled around a gate so we went over to check it out. We thought it was strange that this was happening in a random street in the city but chalked it up to the culture of the island that we were unfamiliar with, but once we made our way over to the gate everything made sense. We saw locals dressed up in lavish costumes, massive colorful floats, and a ton of dancing, and after asking some locals, realized that we were in the middle of the Maltese Carnivale celebration.
Since Malta is a very small country, not many Americans think or know to travel there, and once we started immersing ourselves in the celebration, we realized how cool it was to be some of the only Americans on the island celebrating with thousands of locals. My friends and I danced all night long through the streets, took pictures with people in the costumes, ate delicious candy and sweet treats lining the streets, and watched all the floats drive down the streets of Malta.
Carnivale in Malta was definitely the highlight of the trip because I had never seen anything like it in my life, but if you want to travel to Malta at a time other than Carnivale, I would highly recommend it. Malta is made up of a few smaller islands that are each home to beautiful sightseeing destinations. My friends and I ate lunch on a rooftop in the silent city, took photos on the edge of the Blue Grotto, climbed the Citadel, went on a hop on hop off bus across the farmland, ate homemade gelato on the beach, drank wine while looking at the stars, and so much more. Malta was a dream come true and an adventure I will never forget.
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<p>Lexi Floom is a student at Indiana University majoring in Informatics with minors in Technology Consulting, Marketing, and Game Design. Last summer, Lexi interned abroad in Israel and strengthened her love for all things creative and adventurous. She can't wait to travel across London and Europe this semester and discover the hidden gems each country has to offer.</p>