Throwback Exams

As I was getting ready yesterday for my last exam of the MSc. Genetic Counselling, I laughed as I remembered my last exams in secondary school.

My course mates told me that they rarely had exams until their GCSE’s. We had exams every year and there was a lot of pressure to do well. I am happy for that now. The GCSE’s were hard enough, but if I had not been accustomed to an exam environment I fear the pressure and anxiety would have been triple-fold.

May and June in Malta are, for the most part, pretty hot. This is why Maltese students have a relatively long Summer break. Towards the end of the year, the classrooms are saunas and break time is conspicuous by the hardly moving bodies in the shade of the school yard. Exam time therefore was often a sweaty mess – quite literally.

The last day of exams however always held a certain charm. Woe to the examiner who had the fate of dealing out the last exam ever for I doubt answers were legible for the most part. They were often clever enough to put something simple like Religious Studies at the end but I will never forget when the last paper was Maths II!

On the last day, students would be noticeable by bright coloured strands hanging from halter bikinis, and a certain impatient tap tapping by the side of the desk. After the exam we would run down the stairs of the school, run down the street to the pastizzeria, grab a couple of cheesecakes and run into a bus. The destination was either the beach, or Valletta. Valletta being closer became more of a choice, especially as girls had boy counterparts waiting for them in the Barakka Gardens with ice cream.

O zmien Helu, fejn mort?!

(Oh sweet times, where have you gone?)

It was not to be the same clothes choice this year, for May in the UK is pretty much like February in Malta. Although we were lucky to have some sunshine as we sipped on pitchers of Pimms, played pool and discussed the Summer. We reminisced on the first few weeks of this new course, feeling how it would never end, yet here we are, on the edge. We were quick to remind ourselves it was not over.

A Dissertation Summer couldn’t sound more thrilling. But, hey, bring it on!


My Canterbury Tale

Just after Easter, Emanuel and I had a trip planned to Canterbury. Emanuel had been there before, having done a Masters in Fine Arts in the University there. It was so nice to go to places he had been before, with that insider knowledge and nostalgia.

Canterbury is a beautiful rich town full of beautiful parks, the river and history. Emanuel and I are avid holiday makers and our idea of a holiday is walking non stop and cramming everything into a tiny holiday. We were staying at Matt and Laura (an air BnB host) and they were so lovely and helpful! They also had a massive Marmite collection – placemats, mugs, timers, aprons and the works!

My only knowledge of Canterbury was from Chaucer’s classic and

even then, Chaucer is not known to have ever visited the place. My favourite part of Canterbury were the cobbled streets, with their vintage stores. The river tour was a nice touch on our last day, because it gave us a chance to hear about the growth of Canterbury over the years. I would definitely recommend it.

The Cathedral is closed and opened every day with the sound of a 17th Century bell. I did not get the opportunity to see inside, but the gardens were beautiful. I was so pleased with our trip there but in that holiday we had loads to see (next up : Whitstable!)

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Our new friend Frankie – Easter Part 1

IMG_0790 IMG_0791 IMG_0793 IMG_0797 IMG_0798 IMG_0801I’m back to the grinding work that is being a Masters student. At least the sun in Cardiff is Shining! That makes everything better.

Easter break was great, because it was just that. A super break. I went to Poole to see the boyfriend. Then went to Canterbury – but more on that tomorrow. For now, the joys of Poole.

Poole has everything a Malteser could want, which basically means the sea. It also has a lot of birds, something Maltesers apparently don’t want (at least 50% don’t – read tragic story here).

Poole is a coastal town next to Bournemouth, and is quieter more peaceful than the city next door. Apparently Poole was quite a popular harbour following the Norman invasion but its history can be traced back to the Iron Age.

Poole was a Royalist town in the Civil War and Corfe Castle was captured. I haven’t been to see Corfe Castle yet, as I prefer living the lifestyle and scenario of a place before indulging in the history but this is definitely on my list.

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Its position is perfect on the South Coast for lots of things to see and do.  I am planning to work there over the summer to be closer to Emanuel as well as soak up the beauty of the place. These include places like the Jurassic Coast, Stonehenge, Brownsea Island and Sandbanks. Sandbanks has, by area the fourth highest land value in the world. Emanuel, what are you waiting for , take me!

You may still be wondering as to my title. It relates back to the birds, namely seagulls. On my first visit to Poole, I was nearly attacked by a hungry one who wanted my pork and cranberry sausage roll. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with a visitor of Emanuel’s little flat. he must have been there for years because Frankie the seagull is incredibly domesticated. He must have been fed previously by the flat’s previous owner. Most mornings we’d hear a tapping at the window, and it is Frankie saying hello! We don’t feed him but he is relentless. Because I am an early riser he now comes to look at me and nod, and have a little bath on Emanuel’s window sill (if it has been raining!).  He is the cutest thing!


I see cheese everywhere

I am on my last coach to Cardiff from London. My second placement is over. We had a small leaving do in the genetic counsellor office and I mistakenly (but heavenly!) popped a protein choc chip ball in my mouth. I promise you I didn’t know! It was so good but I did spit out half of it (in a non gross way!)

Chocolate is fairly easy because I’ve been doing it for years so it has become habit. The difference this year is that I’m doing it for a  cause – DeChox by the British Heart Foundation.

Here is my page. Support me and donate!

Cheese on the other hand is a different matter. I honestly didn’t think it would be so difficult!  Everything has cheese, especially fast food snacks or yummy sandwiches. And since I’ve been commuting and living out of a suitcase this has been my main food course. I’m looking forward to being home in Cardiff, doing a nice shop, filling my fridge with yummy healthy wholesome food (although still  no cheese).

Is Zone 5 even London?

Halfway through placement.

When I picked London as my first preference, I had not thought of its geographical span. Spatial awareness is not a big thing for me. This might be explained by the fact that Hyde Park (yes, just the park) is larger than Valletta, which is the Capital City of Malta, a.k.a home sweet home.

So when I was sent to Northwick Park, I couldn’t see how it could possibly be London? No Shard, London Bridge, Big Ben? I realised that I had always seen London as a tourist, shame on me! I embraced this opportunity to do a bit more, see a bit more, and enjoy London, on the edge.

The team at Northwick Park is lovely. I have had a great opportunity in observing some amazing genetic counsellors and I think I will almost miss that aspect once I start the job. It is almost as if now is the time to really absorb different styles before slowly adapting your own. Having said that, I cannot wait to be a genetic counsellor and have my own caseload.

Wembley at first may not seem like the most attractive of places. To me however, it will also have fond memories for it is the place I finally saw my first snow fall. This Winter was the first time I crunched in the snow, and felt the texture.

A lot is being done to improve Wembley as an area and I reckon that in a couple of years it will be an attractive area. The London Designer Outlet and Wembley Stadium are already iconic places to visit. I spent a lot of my time in Wembley library working on my dissertation (more on that next week!).

I had a chance to experience places like Bedford, Hemel and Milton Keynes too. Being on trains and looking out into the green expanse space is something that I will never tire of.

Here are some pictures of going out and about in London.

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Christmas, Cardiff and London Round 2

Another year, another adventure!

The adventure is starting super early, with 7th January being the date I hit Northwick Park Hospital and absorb as much as I can in my second placement.

Coming so soon after Christmas has its advantages and disadvantages. I am full of energy to get this year started with a bang, but janaury blues can be a real thing. On the other hand London! (Why can’t I find the soundtrack of Paddington Bear anywhere?!)

I did see Paddington Bear over the holidays and love, love, loved the film. I remember him from childhood stories but the film really brought it out for me. I now believe that he is rooted in my subconscious love of London too.

I digress – I took a couple of photos pre-Christmas madness with all the details that makes my house a Christmas dream during December. Hope you like them.

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This time round I’m based in Harrow, near Wembley Stadium. It is the first time i’m using AirBnB so fingers crossed. The host seems lovely and the area is pretty well stocked with restaurants and shopping. TkMaxx and Primark? Say no more. Since I’m living in London this time round I aim to do the rounds with all my friends and cousins living there this time round. That means a lot of people, dates and rendez-vous!

Of course, there is real work to be done, and after a super experience in Guy’s I have a sense of anxeity! Will it be the same, will I love it , will I get lost, will they like me? Anxious-nervous-excited! This is the last chance to prove myself so the pressure is there to. Alons-y!