Strasbourg Day 6: Course Day 5

25 09 2010

My last day in Strasbourg had arrived :(…I woke up earlier than usual and made my way to the ENGEES building, where I met with some of the others and we left to arrive at the Council of Europe building together. It seems to be a big thing to be invited there, because not many people get to go there…you need invites etc etc. In fact most of the French people had never been. We arrived at the CoE building and met up with the others who made their way there on their own, had some photos outside the building and then proceeded to go through security. There we were given our name tag (saying EXPERT weeee) and we went inside.

CoE Building

CoE Building

Once inside, we met up with our tour guide for the day. We saw a small video about the CoE and then went to the Parliamentary assembly. This was not in session, since it only operates about 1 week in every month or so. It seems that there are many buildings in the CoE, many of which are used for only a short period every month. I think it is such a waste, as they are probably able to have multifunction rooms.

CoE Parliamentary Assembly

CoE Parliamentary Assembly

After this, we went into our meeting room, where we gave our presentations which we had prepared the day before. OUr group went last, and I think we did a good job…yeah go team 😀

Once we finished we had a small discussion with the Executive Secretary of the Eur-opa Major Hazards agreement, Eladio Fernandez-Galiano. I was impressed at how he was willing to speak openly about his opinions in relation to climate change, risk management and environmental consideration and governance of such issues. He was also very knowledgeable about the subject and was willing to answer any questions we had.

By now the tour was over, and the course had seen its end 😦 so we all said our good byes and made our separate ways 😦


Strasbourg Day 5: Course day 4

23 09 2010

Today was the fourth day of the course. This was a different day however…no lectures were held. Instead, following what we have learnt during the past days we had to split into groups and prepare a presentation of how we would tackle a particular climate change related issue. Our group is composed of Andrea (the Maltese guy) and the three people from Strasbourg with whom we have been eating etc: Marlene, Marie and Gaylord (I figured out his name cos I saw it written down and it is his actual name).

Well our group is working on a situation of extreme rainfall with high frequency in an African context. I think we did a good job during the day. We also had breaks for coffee and lunch. For lunch we went to Les Expat, where it was suggested to have croques. This is a sort of toast with cheese on top.



We finished our presentation at around 4 (we will be presenting tomorrow), went for a beer, and then we all left our separate ways. I walked around, visited the Strasbourg history museum (really good…you get a head set which explains what is happening etc…really liked it), walked a bit some more and then came to the hotel. I have now packed (most things) and am surfing the net. Will soon go out to eat however cos I am getting hungry. Then I will be meeting Andrea, Marlene and Gaylord for some drinks.

Will hopefully not be too late cos tomorrow I need to wake up earlier than usual (at 8:15 need to be at the Uni) to go to the Council of Europe, where we will have a tour and do the presentations.

Merci pour votre attention 😀

Strasbourg Day 4: Course Day 3

22 09 2010

OK, so I have now had dinner and am sitting down in front of my laptop to update you on my day :D. I think today was the most intensive day of the course so far, and the most interesting to me, since I was learning a lot of new things. The topic of today was about health in relation to climate change. We had different medical professionals talking to us about how climate change will change diseases and epidemics with time.

First up was the course coordinator, Evelyne Schvoerer, from the University of Strasbourg Faculty of Medicine. She works in the Virology lab and gave us a good background to emerging viral diseases and climate change. She was followed by Benoit Jaulhac from the Strasbourg Uni Medicine Faculty, who talked about bacterial diseases and enteric concern in relation to climate change. After Lunch we had Ermanno Candolfi speaking about Malaria, from the Parasitology Laboratory at the Uni. of Stras. Med. Faculty. Last but not least was Thierry Lavigne from the Infectious Diseases Department at the Stras. Uni. His experience is mainly in emergency medicine and preparedness for infectious diseases, and it was interesting to see all the stages required and how plans are put into place.

What I really liked today is that all these people actually have experience in the field apart from the lab. They could give us first hand information about the subject. And the thing I liked was how they put everything into perspective. Many people say e.g….climate change=increasing temperature=increasing insect activity. Well, this might be true in the lab. But what if the increasing temperature causes decreasing rain and therefore resulting in water puddles necessary for the mosquito life cycle vanishing?…many people do not think about this (and other similar scenarios).

Now about the food…today I had two specialities from the French and Alsace region. Lunch was again with the Maltese guy (Andrea), Marlene the French girl and a guy whose name I cannot remember…and on the menu were Flammkuchen…this is a sort of pizza on a very thin base….mmmmmm



Then tonight for dinner I went to a restaurant, and had Cordon Bleu with Spaetzli. The Cordon bleu is totally different to the prepackaged ones we get in Malta…where you put them in the microwave for 2 mins and voila!…the Spaetzle are sort of pasta twirls…and actually quite good (I think I had them when I was in Switzerland too cos my bros gf likes them…I think)

Cordon bleu with Spaetzli

Cordon bleu with Spaetzli

That’s all folks for today! Talk to you tomorrow 😀

Strasbourg Day 3: Course Day 2

21 09 2010

So…today I woke up to Strasbourg Day 3…As is normal with me I woke up a few minutes before the alarm was to ring (at 8am haha)…got up slowly, prepared for the day, had breakfast at the hotel and off I went. Since I was a bit early and the weather is being so nice I decided to go on foot. I took my camera with me (photos later…not in the mood to upload them), and made my way to the other side of Strasbourg whilst taking photos.

One thing that we have all been saying about Strasbourg is that it is such a manageable city. You can go nearly anywhere on foot within around 30mins. Since I am staying in quite a central part of the city I can get most places quite quickly. However even the other participants (most of whom are staying farther away) are able to walk around.

At the course today we had a MUCH more interesting day. Today we were discussing water aspects of climate change. First up was Caroline Gregoire from ENGEES. She explained about Continental hydrology, climate and water circulations, characterisation of extreme events and the ecology of humid areas. This was followed by Pascale Joannot from the Museum of Natural History of France. She explained about coral reefs and how they are affected about climate change…we could all see her enthusiasm for the subject and her vast knowledge and it was really enjoyable.

Then LUNCH WEEE…the other Maltese guy and myself went to lunch with 3 French students, Marlene, Marie and Alexandre (I think). They took us to what they described as relatively cheap place but very good food…surprise surprise it is where I chose yesterday…so I do have good instincts hihi…I had Chicken with fries and salad mmmm.

Session 3 followed by A. Sadowski, again from ENGEES, who spoke about Water cleaning networks. The French students said he is one of the best in the field in Europe, and we could see he knows his subject. One problem…he does not know English :(…however he said his slides are in English and told us to ask questions…hmmmm…slide 1 and problem 1…the slide had just pictures and he talked and talked. After a couple of slides, the Armenian guy looked at me and we started giggling. Then our dear translator from yesterday offered to translate…so it was much better.

Last session of the day: Jean Baptiste Bardiaud again from ENGEES, who spoke about drinking water. After working in this sector for the past 1.5years, it was really good to get to know more about this area.

At 5pm we were ready and I went walking around. I met up with the other Maltese guy and we went to La Petite France. This is and old picturesque part of the city.

La Petite France

La Petite France

We then parted ways (he wanted to buy presents for his wife and son) and I went around some shops and some other parts of Strasbourg, went to eat (Salad with bacon, eggs, tomatoes and Goat’s cheese on toast mmmm…I went to the same restaurant as yesterday cos I saw the salads and they looked really good), and I am now here updating you all.

Strasbourg Day 2: Course Day 1

20 09 2010

Today I woke up bright and early (OK 8am so not so it was bright outside 😀 but it was not early), put on my clothes, had some breakfast (Croissants with nutella mmmm) and off I went to make my way to ENGEES, where the course was to be held. I was around 1 hour early (we started at 10am, but I decided to go walk around after finding the place). Whilst looking at the place I saw the other Maltese guy. He was talking to an Azerbaijaini guy who was also attending. We chatted a bit and then went to the room…hmmmm…why were all of the people French?

We went in and waited…then we noticed it was a course for French students, but other Europeans are invited. Well here we are. Other ‘foreigners’ came in and we are a total of 6 foreigners (2 Malta, 2 Armenia, 1 Turkey, 1 Azerbaijan) and around 20 French students.

We had the introductions and surprise no. 1. The course was supposed to be held in English. But they told us…2 of the discussions of the week are in French hmmmm…well whatever, here we are.

We had the first talk…Jean Pierre Massue was the guy…what can I say about him…he love his experiments and his fire :D…the talk was a bit lengthy and basic…I doubt anyone learned much new after the 2hours were up. But it was OK, and it was supposed to be an introduction. After this…LUNCH :D. Then back for the next session with Max Schvoerer, where he discussed climate change and cultural heritage…it was one of the two sessions in French…but a kind participant went up to translate…wippie. I really like how he discussed the way that e.g. we could monitor climate change through cave art in the Sahara…where the oldest cave art contained elephants and other big animals…this was followed by cows…then goats and then small animals…as a result of increasing desertification.

A talk by a Maltese guy…S Busuttil from the Malta Foundation (neither the other Maltese guy nor I have any idea who he is) was cancelled, cos he could not make it. So at 16:30 we were FREE. I went around a bit…the Cathedral, the beautiful roads, some shops. However I was tired, so I came to my apartment to catch up on emails etc and rest, then went out to eat and now I am back.

Well…what are the points to mention after today:

  1. French students are disciplined…when we got a 5minute break, they came back into the room after 5mins…that would NEVER happen in Malta
  2. The lecture room is really cute cos it is round hihi
  3. These professors have no idea about presentation skills and colour choice in their presentation…half of the slides were unreadable
  4. Food comes out really quickly here…you order and within 10minutes it is on the table (even when ordering meats)

Well…overall a great day…will keep you updated 😀

September…Trip 2

19 09 2010

Well, September is proving to be a busy month. I had a total of 3 trips planned. Trip 1: Denmark, Trip 2: Strasbourg, Trip 3: Dublin (to start the rest of my life). Well this afternoon I will be starting the September trip 2. I will be going to Strasbourg on a 1 week course called:

European Master Course on Climate change: impact on health, human environment and water


It is organised by the Council of Europe (COE) European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement in collaboration with University of Strasbourg – Faculty of Medecine and the National School for Water and Environmental Engineering of Strasbourg (ENGEES). I had seen this course advertised on the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) a while ago, when I entered the website on a whim…do not even know why, and since the topic interested me a lot, and I knew I would have been off work I decided to apply. Within a few days I heard that I was accepted for the course, and also for financial assistance. I would not have been able to go without this financial assistance grant, so I am very grateful to the COE for this.


Therefore this morning I have woken up and packed (30-45 mins packing time…weeee), and am now updating all of you :D. In a few hours time (5hours or so) I should be at the airport and off I go (at least I hope so…they bought my ticket themselves and misspelled my name…missed an i GRRRR…I informed them and they said they contacted Air Malta and Lufthansa who said all is OK…so will see :D). 

September…a Busy Month :S

23 08 2010

Well, September is proving to be a busy month. Originally it was supposed to be a quiet month prior to starting my PhD studies…however the weeks are rapidly filling up. Although I will be off work (this is my last week WIPPIE!!) I am getting busy haha. In the first week, I will be going to Denmark with my mum, to meet my sister and her bf at her bf’s parents house and then also going for a few days to Copenhagen. Sometime in the following 2 weeks, my Master’s Viva is tentatively scheduled. I just heard about this today, because I emailed my supervisor to ask him about it, since my days are quickly getting full, so I wanted to know what they are planning. Everything seems to be fine…will wait and see when the final confirmation of date comes in.

Then in the following week I will be attending a course entitled Master-level course on Climate Change: impact on health, human environment and water, organised by the COE, and held in Strasbourg. I just heard about the last item today. I applied last week on a whim. Yesterday I heard I got recommended. Then today I heard I have been accepted to also receive financial support, for which I am really grateful. I doubt I would have gone without the financial support…so THANK YOU!

Today I also emailed my PhD supervisor, and she confirmed that I should soon receive my PhD contract and formal acceptance from the University. Tomorrow I should also be sending my accommodation contract for the 1st semester of my PhD….all in all…a day of tying up loose ends…Hope all goes well!