Intercultural Awareness

Travelling 100 years ago wasn’t as common as it is today. If you were lucky enough to go abroad it was most likely for a vacation and not a job opportunity or an internship. However, in the present world, thanks to EU Initiatives, students at any age are given many opportunities to see the world through a different lens.

Thomas Cassar Ruggier, a student aged 21, travelled to Brussels for an internship for six months. This came after his three-year bachelor’s degree in European Studies.

Such opportunities and experiences are mainly brought about by EU initiatives and agencies. They offer a variety of opportunities such as working within The Council of the European Unionthe European Ombudsman, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

Cassar Ruggier interned at the European Parliament. This granted him work experience in civic activity, one of his main areas of interest.

Initially, he was scared to take on the trip. However, it ended up being one of his best decisions yet. The thought of being alone in a foreign country, having to do everything yourself, might spark some fear in you but once you’re there it’s a different story.

It is important to notice the differences and understand the positive and negative aspects of different cultures when comparing them to our own.

Intercultural awareness is a vital quality that we require. It is not learnt through reading books or through practice but through experience

Intercultural awareness is, quite simply, having an understanding of both your own and other cultures — particularly the similarities and differences between them.

There are stark cultural differences between Brussels and Malta.
  • In Malta, one mainly finds Maltese speaking people whilst Brussels is a country with two nations in it’. There we see both French- and Dutch-speaking people.
  • A cultural difference which Thomas was keen of was the inclusion of fathers in the upbringing of their children. This leads us to think that the gender roles there are far more different than here back in Malta. In Brussels, it’s common for both parents to be involved in the upbringing of children, while in Malta men tend to be the bread-winners while women take care of the children due to stigma pressures.
  • In Malta, one rarely experiences different cultures and the Maltese culture continues to dominate the country. However, in Brussels, various cultural calendars are published ensuring one never misses a cultural event.
  • Brussels hosts countless museums exhibiting surrealist art, showing its appreciation and importance in their culture. Back home in Malta the statues featured in feasts are something traditionally Maltese. Brussels is also home to a diverse variety of theaters and concert halls each with its own programmes and events hosted in them.
Having mentioned all of this, we realise the importance of intercultural awareness and its benefits for our home country.
As the interview with Thomas came to an end he offered some words of encouragement to his fellow students.

“If there is an opportunity, take it regardless of the fear or doubts you might have initially.”

By Gianluca Vassallo Ciliberti interviewing Thomas Cassar Ruggier
Young Reporter Eurodesk MT

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