Chris Mercieca (20), a Maltese second-year UCM student who has seen 11 per cent of the world.
Only last month he travelled to the Balkans and now he’s packing his bags to go home, to Malta. Although some may argue that at 11 per cent, Chris Mercieca has already seen quite a lot of the world, he himself feels he still has a lot to do. “All countries are on my wish list. Seriously, why not? I may or may not ever get there, but at least having a goal to work towards keeps me busy and ensures that I’ll get as close to reaching it as possible.”
To date his longest trip has been a month and a half travelling through the Baltic countries and Scandinavia in the summer after he graduated from high school. “A few months before, I had met a girl in Paris. We had to part ways, but planned to meet up again as soon as possible. Since she was from Finland it seemed like a good idea to hop on a cheap flight to Latvia and head north from there.” He laughs. “Please don’t judge me too harshly; I was a young and naïve 18-year-old. Actually, things changed so much in the two months apart that we decided not to meet after all. But since I already had a flight booked, I ended up travelling through Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, getting around by hitch-hiking along the way with anyone who would pick me up. I didn’t pay a single cent.”
Mercieca has mostly hitchhiked and couch-surfed during his travels in the past two years. “And yet, I haven’t had any experiences that I would classify as ‘bad’. Humanity definitely deserves a lot more credit than we like to give it.” Even so, there were some tricky situations. Like last winter, on a very cold night, when he was walking across the German–Dutch border somewhere near Venray because he had no means transport or a place to stay. “Even that ended well though, with a 2 o’clock ride from a stranger and a warm couch to sleep on at his friend’s place. Once it’s all over, the worst travel experiences tend to make the best stories.”
For now he’s planning a trip in July. “I’ll go on exchange to the University of California in Los Angeles. But first I’ll fly to New York to begin a two-month trip down the East Coast of the US, through Central America, and eventually back north to visit a couple of other states. By the time I’m back I’ll have been to 16 per cent of the world. Makes me feel better already.”