malta – things to do

I spent my birthday in Malta and had an awesome time with awesome people. Here are some of the things you should not miss in between the balconies, water and narrow alleyways.

Some facts:

  • population: 431.333 (Malta is small, yet very densely)
  • currency: ‚ā¨
  • language: English and Maltese
  • fun fact: Britney Spears’ great-grandfather was born in Malta

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1. Ferry Ride to the Blue Lagoon

Even though this is quite the tourist trap, I’d still recommend a boat ride to the Blue Lagoon. Sure enough, your view might be blocked by drunk tourists but it is still calming to sit in the sun and dip your feet in the crystal clear water. Maybe you’ve also guessed it, I’m quite the pineapple addict and they do cocktails served in hollowed-out ones here – called “Blue Lagoon” and quite instagrammable. ūüėČ

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2. Stroll around Valletta

This will be on your list anyways, but just to mention it again. If you miss the green in the sandstone area, the capital of Malta boasts some amazing parks. It’s easy to explore the entirety of it within a few hours and you should definitely check out Soul Food for fresh and tasty Buddha Bowls!

 

IMG_4794-Recovered3. See Mdina

One of the highlights definitely was this little gem of a fortified city. A definite must see is the movie about its history which will give you some background info. It’s well-made, despite being 3D. If you choose to eat here definitely pay the extra money to sit on a rooftop and enjoy the view over the island.

 

I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the smallest country of the EU as much as I did! Let me know what your favourite spots were.

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Thoughts from Denmark

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My visit to Denmark last weekend lasted a mere 30 hours, but tiny Aalborg (spelled Aalborg rather than¬† √Örhus because the Danes didn’t have the right typewriters at¬†some moment, but also quite a controversial issue to do with anti-German sentiments etc…)¬†was easily explored thanks to some lovely guides.

On the way I was reading preparational material: “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Brit Michael Booth. As I had no former experience with Denmark I was mostly struck by several things he wrote about: the incredibly high tax levels (up to 70% of a¬†monthly pay check); the Danish word kaerste is used for both ‘taxes’ as well as ‘darling’.

Also, there were some remarks and anecdotes on Danish safety, society and equality and that people from different classes weren’t as socially seperated – both looked at from a positive as well as negative way. I got to know the notion of Jante Law, according to Wikipedia “the idea that there is a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within¬†Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate” .

The following ten rules were first published in 1933 by Aksel Sandemoose to describe this Scandinavian mindset.

1. You’re not to think you are anything special.

2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.

3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.

4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.

5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.

6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.

7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.

8. You’re not to laugh at us.

9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.

10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

Discouraging thinking a lot, yet still intriguing.

It seems rare to have a set of social norms spelled out that radically and to get baptized (categorical imperatives and golden rules just do not have the same dimension to me). I doubt that Danish people make their every decision based on it, yet the term Jante Law seemed to ring a bell to everyone.

Reminding me of a very different video of 70 years later, maybe Jante Law could be the next export hit to a very individualistic society after LEGO and Skype. Whether that is better or not – we are not to think. Or are we?

poem about the sun

On nights after hot days it becomes more eveident

that the sun is gone.

The moon may well provide some light,

yet the UV-rays and the warmth fade away.

Artificial sunshine cannot fulfill the purposes

and in their essence they feel wrong.

A cold feeling stays with you

the sun cannot be controlled.

The sun makes our plants grow

yet also burns down landstrips and forests.

The sun can paint the most beautiful colours in the sky

but will blind those who dare risking a direct look.

Its energy creates molecules and fuses them anew.

It is seen as a god and

we are dictated by its innate rules

innate and made for no-one.

By day the sun gives colour and detail

but also casts shadows.

And by night the sun is gone

and we are only left to sleep.

Unfinished

Because people tell us to run or relax we never quite find our own speed.

But I think, we should stop being the dogs chasing cars or being on a leash.

Because people tell us to finish things and hang in there we often feel frustrated.

But I think, we should leave some things unfinished. What happened to god old “The journey is its own reward?”

Because people tell us how amazing they are we often feel inferior.

But I think, we can stop that.

You already started a silent loud revolution

You’re getting tired of it

Today, we had yet another class on intercultural communication.

Our lecturer assumed that we will be tired of talking about globalization. But the only people who can get tired of it are the ones who don’t understand what it means. Globalization is what changes everything, what makes our generation the most travelling and open one. And whether you are for or against that, it is a fact.

So, this globalization makes us encounter people from other countries. Be it on the street, in professional life or in lectures. And that is what we need to be prepared for. So far, so good.

Of course, there are a lot of hot buttons and culture clashes when we talk to foreign people. But my problem is: is it really because of another culture or are we only reinforcing stereotypes by attributing these problems to different nationalities?

Because clashes do not only happen between cultures. In my eyes, clashes happen between people. Of course, since we are taught to use logic, it makes sense to find out rules for interpersonal relationships. But one thing is important to keep in mind here: no two people are the same. Therefore we have to find our own recipe in every single societal encounter.

I personally I am not happy to be treated differently or with more caution when I am in another country – that automatically excludes me. Of course, I would like others to accept my quirks and be careful. But still, I would rather try and treat people with as much respect as I treat people from my own country and nothing should go wrong.

And I will never get tired of talking about that.

(The only group of people I don’t like are Physics teachers. I would have needed a course on how to understand them)

I need pressure – will I fail?

That social influences shape every person’s practices, judgments and beliefs is a truism to which anyone will readily assent.

Solomon Asch, Opinions and Social Pressure, 1995

Pressure is something I need, I have to admit it. I’ve grown up in a society and scholar system where you weren’t rewarded for extra work that you do on your own. You need to fulfill certain aims instead: reading some chapters of a book, answering the right question or writing an essay until a set deadline. But I never imagined my “real life” to become like that – I always did extracurricular things which made me happy.

Now that I am getting closer to the end of my education – I will finish my degree by the end of the year – I have to start thinking about my future (scary stuff).

What can I do with my life? I have many things that I want to try, but most of them sound like naive fantasies of a six-year old. And the problem is: the kind of creative life that I imagine cannot be taught to me in books or lectures. How I can support myself from here on without my – luckily – generous parents still riddles me.

It’s like one of these timed tests on the internet. The pressure makes my brain race too fast – and that takes every rational thought away from me immediately. I know I can do it, but I need time and courage to finally break out of my childish cave of security and jump into my own, independent adventure. Because now that no one puts pressure on me, I am the one who has to force my way into the future.

On Information

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1) Thirst.

We are young and greedy, we want to know everything. Our brains know no limits. In our save little world, with our technology, everything is possible. Whether it is guitar tabs, live-streams of people fighting for their lives in other countries or just the newest of your university lectures – you want it, you get it. On demand, wherever, whenever. Endless possibilities.

You swear to yourself to become the best possible version of yourself, read everything, know everything. You will to catch up on everything that happens in your country, in the world, and know what your friends do at every waking moment. Finding new friends, learning all the languages and knowing every cultural offence is only one click away. Knowing every classic novel and the best quotes ever said is easy as cake. Never will you fail to know the answers to crossword puzzles. Just jump in and dive away in the endless strings of ones and zeros, let them fill your brains until they are soaked in information.

2) Pressure.

But information is a whore. There is so much of it out there. Soon you might feel like you’re drowning, trying to put on a life vest of yoga and relaxing tea sessions. But you cannot stop the incredible stream. And soon you are caught in a state of floating between filtering all that you receive and the unquenchable thirst that’s still somewhere inside you.

You realize that endless possibilities have their downsides. You are supposed to be a homo economicus, the perfect human scale. Weighing all the input the world throws at you, using these experiences to reflect upon the little stories you live – maximizing what you get out of every decision, exploiting every minute you have on this planet.

But all that reflecting upon what your possibilities are (spoiler alert, they are endless) makes you incapable of acting. The knowledge of how small you are, how little you might be able to gather in your even tinier brain paralyzes you.

This phenomenon has been given the name¬†Narcotizing dysfunction of knowledge by Robert Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld. The concept is as disappointing as it is visible. Disappointing because knowledge isn’t negative. Knowledge is like calorie-free ice cream, there is nothing bad about it, no regrets. It is the only real-life superpower you are able to actually actively acquire.

For an increasingly nonreligious generation, we usually replace holiness by information. Instead of church, we read our newspaper. Instead of praying, we check the newest tweets and facebook updates. But there are too many gods out there, too many controversial views. We are just not capable of getting an even nearly satisfying overview over all of the smart utterances made by politicians, gurus and friends.

We need to cut something away and thereby lose balance again. Either we’re unsocial, politically apathetic or die from burnout before we reach our thirties. Who has got the time and energy to become a full package nowadays?

3) Reconciliation

This situation is so new that we all experience it with little to no warning. People who are supposed to introduce us to the data highway mostly know way less than we already do. And I’m more than worried that I might end up the same way. I will be, and I already am surpassed by younger early adopters. They have the better gadgets, they know how to get the information they need even quicker. The information jealousy that our parents feel towards us might overthrow our enthusiasm for the hottest news. But the cycle will repeat. And their dreams are finally crushed just like ours, the oasis of knowledge turned out to be no more than a Fata Morgana. The sweet drops of data left our mouths drier than they have been before.

But the right dose of information undoubtedly makes us smarter. We learn to acknowledge that the internet is like Pandora’s Box and delivers information in disorder, alongside with distraction and devastation. Nonetheless, let’s not fail to see Hope.

Let us realize what the generations before us have learnt, what the coming ones will have to learn. We cannot know everything and we are not so unique in that.

I’ll keep my Oyster

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So I’m sitting here in my room in London (if you count Leytonstone as such), nothing’s packed and I have tears in my eyes.

This day marks the end of a chapter in my life, a real good chapter with lots of favourite passages.

Not only does it end the chapter London actually, it marks the end of my ERASMUS period and the international life that I’ve been leading over the last 12 months.

I want to hereby thank all the people that made this experience so unique and inspiring to me, people that helped me and people that entertained me.

Thanks to Tobias, my brother, for letting me sleep on your floor. It was hopefully the most inconvenient way of living, having to hide from the mean Polish woman and not being able to use a kitchen ‚Äď but it enabled me to start my life here and get on my own feet.

Cheers Mark, my brother from another mother. You are just great and you know it.

Thank you, Mel who let me sleep at her place when the Polish woman found out about me and I got kicked out.

And pineapply love to Stanley, who taught me a lot about British culture (Essex girl jokes).

A big shout also to my Zebrano’s people, I loved socializing with so many of you so superfast. And the free drinks were an extra bonus.

Goodbye, London. What I’ll miss the most in 7 Haikus

Friends of the Earth

Goodbye, FoE, my job,

I loved press office and helping

And always got tea.

Wandering around

Small alley and traffic lights

Always discovering more

Small café or thrift store

Camden Town

See you, Camden Town,

I love shopping and the food

Got no money left.

Tottenham Court Road

La’er, Tottenham Court Road,

Google house and Denmark Street.

A mixture of glee.

The river and bridges

Sky by day, bright night,

When walking over the Thames

My little heart is pleased.

The tube

We were not always

In the best of harmony

Tube I’ll even miss thee.

International people

From here, other town,

Weird country or continent

I hope we stay friends.

That’s it. The sky outside turned black. Thank you for everything, London. You taught me a lot.

And it won’t be long – I promise. I’ll keep my Oyster.

Hope you enjoyed, I’ll go and eat an unreasonable amount of chocolate now.