Preparation in full swing!

27 09 2010

My departure to Dublin is fast approaching…in 3 days’ time¬†I will be on the plane there ūüėÄ Even though I have known for some time I have to leave, it is only now that I came back from Strasbourg that it is finally hitting me. This is likely due to the fact that I am currently letting go of my old life and preparing for the new. Today I went to Uni and threw away all my master’s degree samples, I also gave a soft copy of my thesis with changes with my tutor, went to buy a big sister for my luggage (till now I rarely needed much luggage…and my hand luggage was what I used…whether I put it in the hold or as a hand luggage…but this time I need to use maximum space and weight allowance, so I bought my hand luggage’s bigger sister) and I also bought some reading books to take up with me, just in case I cannot use the public library immediately. Last Saturday I also bought sheets (these are not provided by the residence), new toothbrush etc. I hope I do not forget anything behind…but anyways I can always buy from there ūüėÄ

However no packing has actually occurred yet…I am a last-minute packer…knowing that this time it is for quite some time…I will probably pack the day before…but that is all ūüėÄ

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 ūüėÄ

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 ūüė¶ so we all said our good byes and made our separate ways ūüė¶

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 ūüėÄ

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 ūüėÄ

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 ūüėÄ 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 ūüėÄ

Strasbourg Day 1: Getting there

20 09 2010

Greets from my humble abode in Strasbourg

Day 1 of my September Trip 2: Strasbourg experience is nearly over and here I am writing from my Apart-Hotel Room. I had a very good flight to Frankfurt, where I knew one of the air hostesses (or whatever guy hostesses¬†are called)…he lives 2 roads away from me back in Malta and we were good friends once upon a time…and the couple next to me were really nice…a lady from the US working with the US government in Germany and her Turkish-German partner who were returning from a 9 day trip to Gozo. The lady was a chatter box like me…or more than me I think…and so the flight passed by quite quickly. At the airport however I had a bit of a scare…no luggage aaaaa. I spoke to the representative who saw my luggage receipt tag and said ahhhh…you have checked in for the Airport bus to Strasbourg…your bag will not come here but on luggage rail 16…off we go to 16 but hmmmm…it was not moving…he tried calling to check about it and they said it is not in their system :(…he then started to input my details in the system of lost luggage :(…but then he called to check again and they said it should be coming to no. 16 in about 10-15mins…so he told me to go wait¬†next to carousel 16, and keep him informed. So I off I go to wait and finally…yes…my luggage came wippie¬†(this was around 30mins after all the others had gotten their luggage…and he told me next time never let them check in for the airport bus as,¬†¬†well…cos it ends up in transit and then it comes out later).

Luckily I had 2 hours until the airport bus left (now 1.5hours hihi) and so off I went to wait for the bus. I immediately found where the bus leaves and then started walking around….hmmm…I saw a guy looking at me…he looked Maltese and I thought I remembered him from the plane…so I said…Int Malti? (are you Maltese) and he said yes and we started talking. Apparently he knows my sister slightly haha cos he worked with her when she worked in a pharmaceutical company. He has now changed job and he was going to Strasbourg for a 5 week course related to his work.

At 8pm we went towards the bus stop, and whilst putting our luggage on 2 different people heard us talking and said…Intom Maltin?…(and we suspect there was another lady who was smiling whilst we were talking hihi). And surprise…one of the guys was coming to the same course. So we boarded the bus and we chatted a bit and then settled in (we had 2.5hours on the bus).

Once we reached Strasbourg we all said our good byes and made our way to our places. I got a taxi (walking around Strasbourg at 11pm with my luggage was not something I cherished) and arrived at the apart-hotel. I inserted the codes as informed (the reception is closed during the weekend) and found my key and made my way to my room. But hmmm where is the bed?…Then I noticed the large sofa with a lot of space inside it…so I pulled it apart and dadammmm…I have my bed.

The room is quite nice and big…I also have a fridge a cooker and a microwave…they will stay as they are however hihi. I entered my bed, read a bit then slept a good night’s sleep.

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).¬†