What would I have done?

It has been a couple of days since a Hungarian student in Malta was spat at and slapped at a bus terminus and then promptly arrested to the sound of clapping. Most agree that this was a racial attack. I do not know what upset me most – the tactless interviewer, the fact that some comments justified the actions, or the fact that the woman who did this was twenty-nine years old, eligible to the same free education system I went through!

There have been interviews, and the Minister herself has apologised to him. Journalists and bloggers have written excellent pieces about the incident which I do not need to repeat. (Herman Grech’s piece and Daphne Caruana Galizia’s piece are pretty good).

My thoughts take a slightly different vein. In mass last Sunday, the priest told us to stand up and be counted, that nowadays we have a tendency to lay low. This made me think back to this racial incident. Had I been in the crowd, what would I have done? Would I have spoken to the police, explained the situation? Would I even have chased after the woman, told her off?

I admit that I wouldn’t have done anything. At most, I would have walked away and written a blog post. There were over 20 shares of the story on my Facebook page that day. I was in the UK, so it is even easier for me to condemn it, dissociate myself from that Maltese woman. But it is oh so easy to share a story, write an emotive blog about morals, rights and wrongs.

Why would I not have stood up to the man? Fear of the woman, fear of the crowd. How sad it is when ignorant people in their aggressiveness have power over people of good will. Ironically this is what is happening everywhere – ignorant people can be bullies. To protect ourselves, we stay back. Acceptance is the best way forward, next time should I find myself in a similar situation, I would not be so quiet in the face of injustice.

How right Edward Burke was

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

 

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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!

Christmas bakes

Christmas cake with icing and marzipan Oh my!

Mince pies and logs (maltese style)

Maple and date cake, almond tort

Who said mum’s baking ever falls short?

Some Baci in here, Mon Cheri over there

And don’t forget the Ferrero Rocher

Don’t forget Welsh cakes or shortbread bakes

Or the snowflake Swiss roll that Me and Manuelo makes.

To be a tourist guide in your own country!

My holiday back in Malta included a 5 day break for my friends in the UK to visit the island I had been talking about so much, my home. As I was to find out, advertising your home town has its responsibilities and pressure!

We were rather unfair on our respective boyfriends, having hardly ever met each other before, so one obstacle was whether they would get on or whether the trip would be fraught with awkward silences. They were angels (for the most part, punctuality was another issue!) and really got on well with each other. As a group we were perfect.

Malta to me is seen through different eyes than a tourist. This is one thing I immediately had to come to terms with when planning the trip. What I thought they should see was not necessarily what they would be keen to see. Knowing them so well and having planned the trip together I knew what they were looking for. A good time, a relaxing time. When you have a group of 6 people you are unsure whether they would want the same thing at the same time but that was also ultra smooth!

I was so happy that there were no moments of tension, no hanging around and not a moment of boredom. Malta is full of exquisite things to see but having only 5 days, I wanted to be selective. September is also risky but we were blessed with sunny weather hot enough to swim, if I bit too humid (Sophie, Emily and Amy didn’t seem to mind!)

Day 1: They arrived in the morning which was great as it gave them enough time to settle and even enjoy their lovely apartment in Tigne!

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They went for a dip in the pool with a fantastic view and therefore immediately settled into Malta holiday mode. In the evening we took them to Mdina, a sight I didn’t want them to miss. They were captivated by the Silent city, the dark side streets and the views. I was happy with my first decision to take them there. It is a pity we did not have the energy for Fontanella chocolate cake!

mdina gate

Day 2: This was a Gozo dedicated day. I felt my friends would be missing out if they didn;t visit the sister Island. It was good since Emanuel and I love the place so much so it would be a good stop before Emanuel left for Bournemouth. Having Game of Thrones fans with us we first went to Dwejra where Sophie and Rhys could (try to) re-enact the Dothraki wedding. This was followed by a ponder around the market known as It-Tokk after tasting some Maltese food at Cafe Jubilee. The sun was beating down on us and the best place to be was by the sea on the orange sand in a beach known as Ir-Ramla l-Hamra. After being harassed by sunbed hawkers and building sand forts, we all had a swim and a rest.

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The best way to finish a Gozo day trip is with traditional Gozitan Pizza by none other than a lady known as Maxokka. Yum!

Day 3: Waking up late after a night of drinks and chats I felt Valletta was worth a visit. We went for a late lunch at Crave at the Valletta Waterfront and then went up to see the Saluting Battery from the picturesque Upper Barakka.

saluting batteryAfter walking through the grid like city and passing the President’s Palace, the law courts and St. Johns Co-Cathedral we sat down and had lots of Cisk, their favourite beer!

In the evening, my group of friends were in for a gaudy treat. The last feast of the season in Malta is the one in Haz-Zabbar.  I had been talking about feasts and fireworks and Catherine wheels for ages (ironic considering I cannot stand them!) and they were so curious! They were flabbergasted at the loudness of the fireworks, the church decorated with colourful bulbs. One thing that really impressed them was our Maltese gigifogu – an array of mechanised Catherine wheels and other shapes. The lack of health and safety was also a shock as they were lit by 14-year-old boys and sparks were flying and landing at their feet!

Day 4: On Sunday, it was the gospel day of rest and having gone in at 2am the previous night, it was a time to catch up on sleep. Emanuel and I on the other hand were busy doing last-minute jobs and catching up with old friends and relatives before Emanuel left for Bournemouth the following day. The surrealism of my UK friends being in Malta and Emanuel leaving for the UK was not lost on me.

Day 5: With Sadness we couldn’t believe it was the last day of the holiday. It was mostly another day of rest where they were treated to Maltese Hospitality in the form of my parents who feed them and gave an endless source of Cisk. We did manage to pop into Palazzo Parisio gardens, sneak a visit to the Rotunda and also take them to see a Maltese glass blowing demonstration.mdina glass

 

All in all, being a tourist guide was successful. This success was mostly due to having fantastic friends to enjoy it with! Thanks Sophie, Amy, Emily, Nate, Paul and Rhys!

Till next time x

 

Back home from home

I have been back ten days. In those days I spent a night in Bristol, has lectures, submitted an assignment and sat an exam. My first ever Post-grad exam!

It is a funny feeling, being back home from home. I understand what my Dad means about having two homes, and being able to enjoy both, in very different ways. I must say that landing in Malta was so exciting for me on the 19th December that I couldn’t believe my own feelings. It truly is a unique experience and one that reverberated throughout my holiday.

It was a beautiful holiday and every day was filled with a renewed appreciation of my wonderful country, my amazing family and my super boyfriend. My country I was most surprised with. I could be a tourist and snap photos (with my new Christmas present) , sit in the sun and eat pastizzi and drink Kinnie and Cisk. My most special moment was in Sliema, looking at the crystal blue sea and all the wonders beneath it, across to the never-ending horizon and the blueness of the sky – in January!

Few moments compare to the family gatherings, the Monopoly nights and the sheer calmness of it all. Everyone was so busy, but as a family we always made time for each other, and could share the daily routine of each other’s life. Getting back into a routine of waiting for Emanuel’s phone call to say he has come to pick me up are little things that make everything in the big picture so much more worth it.

Yet, I did not feel the pining for Malta that many describe. I feel I came to terms with my freedom from it, and over my resentment at what it could not provide. This holiday made me realise that I can have my cake and eat it, and I will. I love my country but I have so much to achieve before I can go back. I just wish my family and Emanuel were here to share the journey with me. Even while saying that however I know that part of the adventure is my experience in a new place, new people and new friends with which to build something big out of my dreams.

Here are some amazing photos to enjoy!012 024 027 037 051 053 060 066 076

A bag of Freebies later..

Yesterday was National Companies Fair in the Great Hall in the Student Union. Having decided to spend the day on my own, since we had a Postgraduate Meet and Mingle, I was at first worried that I would not find my way to the Student Union from Allensbank House (where I’m staying).

I took up the challenge as I didn’t want to use the bus, and voila’ , I arrived.  Moreover, I noticed some landmarks on the way which I am now associating with my new home and the cemetery doesn’t half creep me out anymore! ( I am, however, not comfortable enough as of yet to shortcut through it!)

Lidl is the final check point before entering Cathays. This is the student hub, as indicated by this massive sign as soon as you turn the street. It seems to say : This is our street, bitchez!

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The Lidl here is nothing compared to the one in Malta and seems to be terribly messy, but of course, also terribly cheap! Other landmarks are a restaurant called “The Heath” (terribly original) and the Maindy barracks, apart from the aforementioned cemetry!

Another positive thing which must certainly mean I’m adapting is that I didn’t even look for the sun today! It hasn’t popped up at all these two days, and I’m getting used to it. The main problem for me is that the sky is usually an indication of the time; with this weather the sky looks excatly the same at 6am , 11am and 5.30pm! Weird!

A lesson I learnt today is that I should not go walking for long distances in a thick hoodie and a jacket. It is too hot for that. Another lesson is that using your iPod is a definate way of improving walk time – you do not see the time go by at all. I walked over 40 minutes today and felt like I did little over 20. Yay me!

Here is a photo of me being a true local – tea in the local pub!2013-09-24 18.56.14

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‘Roar!’ and my family’s gifts.

Have you heard Katy Perry’s new song? Roar! I seriously love it and it is my main packing song. Makes me feel like I’m going to be my “own hero” in Cardiff! It gives me motivation and drive. Not such a fan of the video though, I’ve seen better coming from her (Wide Awake must be one of her best!)

Yesterday was family day; making the most of my family before I bugger off. It is truly amazing how much they know me because their gifts consisted of:

–          A recipe book for salads! (Yum!)

–          A photo frame of the whole family for my new desk with the beautiful words “Family- a patchwork of love” AND

–          An OWL keychain! (squee)

We went to Il-Veduta restaurant in Mdina/Rabat and the food there is always lovely. It is a special place for my family because my grandfather used to love it. It was also the place where my Dad let us know he was leaving to Bahrain for a brilliant opportunity that gave so much to each member of our family! The view from the restaurant is another magnificent plus, hence the Maltese name of the restaurant ‘Veduta’ meaning view in English!

 

A great night to treasure during any lonely nights in Cymru!