A Story of Loneliness, Depression, Assignments & Threats – My University of Malta story

I spent almost two and a half years at the University of Malta and as you can see from the title they weren’t the best years of my life.


I’m out of Junior College, hating school life and I’m already swept into a class full of blank faces. I started Uni, the so-called last stage before getting a certificate and working your arse off for the rest of your long life.

I was probably in the worst mental state of my life, I couldn’t get myself to do any extra work, and waking up in the morning was a chore in itself. I used to run from the bus stage at times just to make it a minute or two shy of being on time. I was in such a slumber that even my socialising skills were burnt to the ground.

Anyway, no real friends around even though there were some good people who gave me rides home and tried to help. The rest were strangers. Students who would copy off assignments from previous year students or one another. Some even signed off attendance sheets for friends who didn’t attend class.

Meanwhile, lonely me didn’t even have a chance of a humane discussion on our latest assignment with anyone. As time goes by I was giving in and started to spiral down in an even deeper depression. I hid into gaming while trying to forget the misery.

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credit: Pexels: Soumir Kumar

Through all this time of hardship, I don’t think anyone knew how beaten down I really was. I pushed away even the dearest of friends. My parents having marital troubles of their own never took a hard look at me and attributed all this to me just slacking off.

You can imagine I wasn’t the lecturers’ pet, and they made sure to make me feel I shouldn’t be there. One lecturer said:

Only one person failed the last exam. I made sure that whoever deserved to pass, did so” and looked at me straight in the eye.

It was me. I had a mark of 44 out of the pass mark of 45. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. They clearly tampered with the results. I repeated my first year.

In my repeater year, I did better and thankfully I had some friends. I also developed a crush on a girl who was in a relationship, more soul-crushing stuff in that department.

To sum it up, Uni still felt like it wasn’t for me. My brain had always let me down.

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credit: Pexels: Pixabay

The second year starts and I had the head of the Biology department come up to me in his car at the lecturers’ car park:

“You already missed two classes, if you miss another one, I’ll make sure you’ll fail on the next one you miss,” he said

“But I was sick, I have all the required doctor’s certificates,” I muttered shyly.

“Doesn’t matter, those are the rules. Miss another one and you’ll fail, ok?” he replied.

I nodded and he drove off. I knew that I didn’t miss classes out of the blue or posed as sick. At that time, we had a maximum of missing three lectures and I was threatened to fail after losing two with valid reasons.

This was done in the face of clear attendance abuses from my classmates. We had some lecturers calling out the names of people after signing the attendance and five or six people (from around forty) were all magically in the bathroom.

Back to me, I was certainly in the crosshair of my lecturers. After that, I started to crumble and gave up. I was done with studying and all of this crap.

A few weeks later, I applied for a full-time job and got it. Was like breathing pure oxygen into old smoker lungs. My mood changed, my life changed, for the better. I left University on a note of mental health issues but I was sure I wasn’t going back. That was the end of probably the bleakest chapter in my life.


Credits:
Featured picture: Pexels – Pixabay.


The Beast from the East – Explained

A massive cold spur hit Europe and here’s why


We’ve all shivered and made snowmen this past days. And when I say ‘we’ I mean mainland Europe. Malta was only hit by some cold winds for a couple of days. Sad thing is that I had to go to work unlike most Europeans.

Anyhow, why did sudden Siberian cold hit mainland Europe?

To answer this, one has to look at the arctic region (north pole) specifically between 10km and 60km up in the atmosphere or what it is known as the stratosphere.

Due to the inclination of the earth (the same reason why we have seasons), the northern pole doesn’t receive sunlight and the temperature differences creates a vortex. This massive stratospheric storm called the stratospheric polar vortex spans as wide as the north pole itself.

 

Since it is so high up we don’t usually feel its effects, but there are instances where this vortex destabilises causing its doughnut shape to morph into two or more doughnuts.

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So, who’s complaining? (Credit: L0nd0ner -Pexel)

Actually Europe’s complaining since this splitting compresses air, heating up the stratosphere violently. So violent, that it pushes the cold arctic troposphere, or basically our weather portion of the atmosphere, disrupting our usually weather patterns.

Then we end up with something like this:

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Credit: Paul Townsend – Flikr

If you want to know more please take a look at Simon Clark‘s video which has explained it much better than I ever could.

It’s all thanks to Simon Clark (twitter: @simonoxyphys) that I came to know of this so please do support him

Simon is one of the coolest and newest science communicators found on Youtube.

Do subscribe or give him a cheeky thumbs up.


If you love Science and want to read on more science-y things, click here 


Featured photo credits: Snapwire – Pexels.

Silence is Bliss

We are constantly bombarded with information, notifications, and media, forgetting that thoughts need peace to grow.


I am one of those guilty of never switching off, even my dreams are a weird mess.

I wake up check my social media and walk to the bathroom with a Youtube video playing. Even while I’m showering the tablet plays on. Off I go, and next up comes the car radio, where there’s always something to know about.

We’re literally bombarded with news, music, videos and articles. You can spend countless hours starring at your phone’s screen catching up with the socials. Whatever is your daily routine, you’re surrounded and overwhelmed by media.

Not only has the mobile phone robbed us of our friendly chat at the dinner table, but it has belittled our time for thought.

I miss the days where I was able to commute by walk. Especially at night, I used to look up at the clear summer sky and gaze at the starts. Oh how time has changed things.

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credit: pexel.com

It’s important that one gets respite from this modern world. Be it through mediation, walking the dog or just walking alone everyone needs moments for though. Moments where one can stop, to think and observe the world.

After all, thought is what makes us human.

Malta: Cycle to your Grave

A blog is a reply to a post on the now famous Maltese portal Lovin Malta.


For the past year or so, Lovin Malta has been a site which exploded in popularity. This came about because of two reasons, the first being the use of old and new Maltese dank memes and the second by posting relatable topics.

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One of their latest post tackled the relatable topic of dealing with Malta’s traffic problem titled: ‘Creative Solutions To Malta’s Traffic Problem That Are Doomed To Fail

I’ve also posted my ideas on the topic, right here.

The point that possibly triggered me the most was this one here:

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Malta is an island the size of a mainland city, where it’s people think using the bicycle is equal to half a death sentence. Or even worst, that cycling is doomed to fail.

I’ve cycled most of my life, especially in the carefree teenage years and I’m more alive than ever. Incidentally, talking about my teenage years, I’m in Lovin Malta’s cyclist photo; a photo which me and my friend posed for to promote a venture called Malta by Bike which we were about to launch (also used as this post’s featured photo).

Even this fellow from the B.A.G. (Bicycling Advocacy Group, Malta) had something to say:

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All the negative connotations around two-wheeled vehicles never stop on this island.

For me, the mortality risk is of 1/5, therefore a slight probability. For our worried parents and friends it’s a 5/5, basically you’re doomed.

Maybe, just maybe…it’s about time to start promoting alternative modes of transport as a safe respite from all the time we spend stuck in traffic.


P.S.   Small sneak peek, in the future I’m planning to make a video where I commute with my bike for a week. Hopefully this will happen once I finish my studies, only then will I be able to focus more time on making better than ever content.


 

The Silent Killer – The Stephen Fry Story

Just yesterday I watched a video post that really shocked me on how silent disease can be.


I admit it. I’m a great Britophile and love everything quintessentially British. Apart from heaving a great admiration to the country itself, I love their way of living and watch one too many tv show of theirs.

Doing so, it made me familiar with the British celebrities, one of which I was fond of. A declared atheist, a lover of the classical and having a general knowledge as big as the Internet itself, Mr. Stephen Fry.

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This gentleman, starred in many movies and was for many years the host of the tv show QI. Recently he left Britain to live in the US of A, and there is where all this happened.

This year’s flu was predicted to pretty bad, so Stephen decided to take a flu shot as prevention. His trusty GP (General Practioner or Doctor) suggested a general checkup, and Stephen agreed. Blood, urine and stool samples were taken, and Mr. Fry left unconcerned.

After a couple of days his doctor phoned back, sharing his concerned about Steven’s PGA or Prostate Gland Antigen levels. It was slightly higher than normal and that is where it all began.

I won’t go onto details, he’s an amazing storyteller so I’ll leave it to him to tell you the rest…

 

Being a man of science himself, who believes in the medical system, a resounding message can be taken from all of this.

Take care of yourself and get a regular check-up

Malta: Hunting & Trapping

For those people who thought you can fly to Malta no problem, you’re wrong. You have to get through the armies of hunters on the island. Well, at least if you’re a bird.


Hunting in Malta is engrained in our culture as much as the cholesterol in our veins.

Anyhow, mainland Europe has been shying away from hunting, a natural step in urbanisation.

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Not here, not us, not Malta. Surely more people are against hunting than ever before. Yet, the so-called hobby has yet to die down.

In a very recent referendum on hunting, it passed by a small margin, enabling spring hunting to continue.

Sad, very sad indeed. It was a shock to every modern thinking citizen. But let’s say it’s a hobby we have to accept, and with it this keeps going on:

Protected bird shot – just three days after start of hunting season

Ye, you’ve guessed it, old Malteser doing what he pleases. It’s not even a one off thing, as far as I know. last year was one of the worse years in regards to illegal hunting/trapping in quite a while. The immorality of it all makes me sick. If you want to shoot birds and have the government’s blessing to do so, just leave the protected birds alone.

Some hunters even have the audacity to tell you that they’ll shoot anything that flies; or trap any bird of value no matter the method. Disgusting.

I don’t get it, why should we allow this even in the face of numerous illegalities. Referendum vote or not…

just make it stop.


Do you even moisturise? Learn the Science of Moisturisers. Tips included!

Moisturisers are a go to for many men and women, especially at this time of year. Slap on some cream, lotion or spread and you’re ready to go. BUT only if you understand how it works will you get the most out of it.


 

Since beauty and lifestyle bloggers are the most abundant, I though why not do a scientific blog with them in mind. So here we go…

There are basically three main types of moisturising ingredients:

  • Occlusives
  • Humectants
  • Emollients
Let’s go in a bit deeper:
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stock.tookapic.com

Occlusives:

Basically these have a ‘fatty’ side to them. Like oils and waxes, fat repels water. In moisturisers, it blocks the passage of water out of your skin. An everyday ingredient which can be defined as ‘fatty’ is petroleum jelly.

The ingredient petrolatum is best at holding water in, followed closely by lanolin and mineral oil.

Humectants:

These act like water sponges. They usually suck up water from deep into your skin to the upper-most surface. They do absorb water from the air but  to a much lesser extent, especially if the air is dry.

The most common examples are glycerin, honey, panthenol (a Vitamin B5 varient), sorbitol (also used an artificial sweetner), pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) and urea.

These ingredients while beneficial can cause water to escape from the surrounding non-creamed areas. Look out for these ingredients and be sure you cover a much wider area than just the dry spot!

Emollients:

These are simply there to fool you in thinking the moisturiser is effective. After the drying of the skin, certain proteins are broken down leaving you with crackled skin. Ingredients like dimethicone  fill these gaps of broken protein us making your skin feel smooth.

Even though urban legends says alcohols dry up your skin and have little place in moisturisers, ingredients like octyldodecanol are excellent emollients.

Honourable Mentions:

Vitamins:

A morphed Vitamin A (Retionic acid) is used in anti-wrinkle creams – In moisturisers as retinyl palmitate is good but less effective than the former.

Vitamins C (absorbic acid) – most probably is rendered useless in contact with the air.

Vitamin E – if the vitamin is mentioned as tocopheryl acetate, the body doesn’t make use of it. So it doesn’t do anything other than its use as a preservative.

Lactic Acid: 

Heavy Duty Humectant – to handle with care, usually used for skin over heel or calluses. Most products containing this ingredient gives you a stinging feeling after application.

Final note:

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The best way to moisturise is not to buy the most expensive product, but to keep up with your recommended daily water intake. In other words, DRINK WATER.

Remember, the products you buy don’t create water from thin air but helps the body cope with instances of dryness.

Second on the list, is to try to stay away from dehumidifiers and air conditioners. They both dry up the air around you and consequently your skin.

 


 

Hope you enjoyed this post!

If you want to see more please leave a comment telling me what you think! 😀

 

References:
Dobos, K. (n.d.) ‘How Do Skin Moisturizers Work? – Chemists Corner’, [Online]. Available at http://chemistscorner.com/how-do-skin-moisturizers-work/ (Accessed 17 February 2018).
Harvard Health Publishing (n.d.) Moisturizers: Do they work? [Online]. Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/moisturizers-do-they-work (Accessed 17 February 2018).
Featured PictureH Matthew Howarth

Malta: Quirky road signs you rarely or never see on the road

Not that we take care of them signs sticking around when we drive, but they’re… interesting?


Disclaimer: High chances of cultural shock if you continue reading. You’ve been warned


Few years ago, I got into an internet discussion about this:

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The national speed limit sign

Was grumpling on how people slow down to less than 60km/h when our national speed limit is 80km/h.

You might not be surprised the person I was arging with had not idea what that sign even meant. Weeehaaa, Malta, ladies and gents.

Anyway, moving on from the tangent, another set of lesser known signs are those with a band of narrow lines. These are quite relatable and maybe you, Malteser, can recognise them:

 

Incidently this means no overtaking, which even I forgot:

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Ok, that’s it with the informative stuff of signs we already see around. The next one a sign that would be dreaded by all lorry drivers or those vans stuffed to the brim.

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You don’t see them at all these days and so, a neat little refresher if they even intent to stick some of them up.


Next up we got the freaky ones:

 

Ye, the last one doesn’t mean airport *grins*


 

Next up we find the never seen ones:

 

This one is meant to indicate that you can stop your car for not more than:

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Here are some quitessentially British signs which I never seem to see around:

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maybe the safe height one does show up now and again.


 

Last but not least these:

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Apparently, they serve to demark an area where the road has priorty over crossing or intersecting traffic.


 

If you’re Maltese, have you seen these signs before?

If you’re not, are they used in your country?

Let me know in the comments down below

 

Human Cloning

As usual I was scrolling through my WordPress reader, and bumped into this:

With ethical dilemmas, developing technology, and practicality issues, it is no wonder people’s opinions on the subject are so divided.

via Thoughts on Thursday: The Possibility of Human Cloning — Megan Roylee

Then I just felt like writing some thoughts of mine, so here we are.


Megan thinks of cloning as creating a foreign or even some sort of creature. While ethically, human cloning is considered wrong for religious or spiritual reasons, cloning other animals is not.

South Korea has been on the cutting edge of this replication process for the past decade, if not more. Certain companies actually offer a service of cloning your beloved pet for a hefty price tag.

 

As it says in the video, genetically the pet will be identical but you won’t have the exact same dog. Environmental factors will influence the character/characteristics of the new born puppy. No two drops in a river are exactly the same.

Anyway, hopping back to humans, cloning ‘John’ won’t bring him magically back to life. Think about the clone as ‘John v.2’ and if you call him ‘Andrew’, he will be like a much younger twin to ‘John’.

Yes, some twin have the same genetic material, and yet end up to be quite different. These are called ‘true twins’ and factors like nutrition, exercise and exposure to different psychological events will help you tell them apart. Hopefully they’ll reply to a different name as well.

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Therefore, you can’t bring back anyone from death and therefore a second element of people’s perception comes into play.

Some think of clones as a possible gateway to organ donation. My ethical standards forebid me to think of another human being as an organ stepnee. Imagine coming to this world, and once you grow up you’ve been told that you’re just a spare wheel for another guy. Clones for human testing, or clones being treated differently in any other way, would make no sense.

As time goes by, the organ donor debate through a clone is dying down. New technologies are making it able to grow an organ in the laboratory.

You can read more about laboratory cultivated organs…here.

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Clearly, at this point in time, I see no point in cloning humans. A clone would be just a
person who happens to have the same genetic material like someone else. Might as well have kids the old fashioned way, instead of going through the hassle of creating an exact copy of someone. Plus, the old fashioned way is way more fun.

 


What do you think after reading this?

Comment down below or re-blog your thoughts, share them with the world.

 

Introverts & How to Make Friends with Them

Introverts are just misunderstood extroverts.


For the longest time, I have been an introvert.

When I was young, I was brought up at parent’s days where the teacher would ask my parents “Does this boy speak at all?”. I think my parents would remain flabbergasted every time, I was quite the normal boy at home.

I wouldn’t call myself a quiet child, I was kind of a menace, in a fun kid kind of way.

Growing up I stayed in the same school all boy school for all my primary and secondary education. Got accustomed to the people there and truly felt at home. I started to nurture my own character and I talk regularly to friends which I met there.

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The horror of breaking my bubble came on school leaving day. Being very shy of cute girls and suddenly being thrown into a school full of them, made me look like ‘that strange guy’ even more than ever before.

Don’t rush to conclusions, I had my group of friends at higher/college (or as we call it, Sixth Form); some of whom I couldn’t thank enough for being by my side at such a time. But naturally, I would be awkward with the rest. Was always the small group of friends type of guy, like all introverts, I guess.

This continued all the way to University, unfortunately, a place where in my first year I basically didn’t click with anyone. Only in my repeater year (yes, it was that bad), I had some good friends which I still greet with a smile everytime we meet at work.

Dropping out of university and joining the workforce was a night to day change. Colleagues really made me feel at home. I felt like myself, surprisingly, I felt accepted.

doctor, lab, laboratory, medical, medicine, chemistry, test tube

At one point an ex-uni-classmate who happened to be working with me in the lab told me, “I never thought you were this fun to be around. Shame that I didn’t get to know you better before”

As many times before, I was happy about the compliment, but god knows how much a friend would have made a difference in my first year at university. Oh well, what can you do about it?

Actually I got an idea; introverts are people who find comfort in true friends usually in a intimate setting of a small group of people. They won’t bulge in, so give them space to express themselves and they’ll show you a completely different facade.

If you see a soft-spoken soul staying in the corner, you should:

  • Ask them their name! Of course, tell them yours. Break that ice.
  • Make them feel at home; usually simpling involving them in a conversation would do.
  • Crack a joke, because laughter is the key to any good vibe,
  • Listen to what they have to say

Make an introvert feel special, it may mean the world to them.


Are you an introvert yourself or do you have any friends who are proclaimed introverts?

Write us your story, in the comments below.