Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Welcome to Lent Term!

I’m sitting in Cafe 54 on campus, sipping some coffee (only one cup — one of my NY resolutions is to cut back on caffeine consumption) and watching the hordes of people that are back on campus… it was so nice being here just a week ago when the majority of people were sleeping their lives away in their homeland. Now, once again, it’s packed and I have to use physical force to find an outlet. In any case, my first seminar of this term is done and though my brain was only 60% on, it was good to get back into the groove of things! I have a busy week ahead: on campus today from 930A to around 6P, with Tuesday and Thursday shaping up to be very similar. I’m still trying to decide on my last class for this term, so I’m sitting in on three lectures, hoping one will really stand out (Public Management of Development, African Development and Globalization & Social Policy — if you have insight, leave me a comment)!

This term is going to be a rough one, but now that I’m back in an intellectually stimulating environment, I feel much more prepared to take on assessed essays, dissertation proposals, exams, job applications and the like. I’ve also made it my goal to go to at least one LSE public lecture or partake in some cultural experience each and every week. Also, exciting (for you LSEers out there), my lovely flatmate, Lindsay, has her own radio show (‘Brunch Buffet’ on Pulse Radio) this term! If you’re an LSEer and want to show a peer some support, you can join her facebook group here!

In other news, I have a load of guests coming to visit in the next few months: my cousins are coming for a jaunt over from Malta next week; my sister & dad are coming in April (yay!) and my cousin from San Diego is coming over for a couple of months in the summer! My (overly ambitious) goal is to have my dissertation mostly completed by the first week of July so that my cousin and I can do a bit of traveling while I put the final touches on my thesis. Here’s to hoping! Send some positive energy my way <3.

Now back to work!

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California to London: My Personal Case Study

This could also be entitled, “Why moving away from my homeland has been the best decision of life and why all human beings should experience the same thing: a case study,” but I thought that would be entirely too long. Also, let me define: by case study, I mean my personal experience which, herein, will be used as a case study and the base for this discussion/monologue. I suppose it’s primarily intended for those who are looking to move away for graduate school, work or study abroad, but anyone with input, please comment away!

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I spoke with a friend of mine who, rather abruptly, gave up her life in Northern California to pursue a Marketing/PR internship opportunity that had arisen in LA. She had never lived away from her family and there was no pay attached to the internship period (although there were hopes of a future job opportunity), but working in public relations in the LA area had been her goal. About a month after her move (a couple of months before my move to London), I asked her about her feelings on moving away and starting an entirely new life. The verdict? Hard at first, but ultimately the most fulfilling adventure.

Now that I’ve been living in London for nearly four months, I would tend to agree with her perspective on the move. Although I miss my family, my friends and the relative normalcy (read: monotony) of life in Northern California, I can positively say that the path that I chose was undoubtedly the best personal decision of life, to date. The move has given me new perspective on relationships, on other cultures and on life.

Tiff & I <3.

Chris & I at The Lion King!

I have had the opportunity to look intently at my relationships and realize that the connections built in life don’t need to fade away just because the distance between two individuals grows; that physical proximity and emotional proximity are not linked, even in the slightest (although I’m sure the advent of social networking sites has helped make this much easier than it would have been 25 years ago)!

National Gallery

I have also been able to experience life in a foreign country and soak up all the nuances that come with it. Living life in a cosmopolitan city (London, Paris, New York, etc.) grants one the ability to marinate and grow in an undeniable melting pot. Daily, I find myself running into people from France, Germany, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana (and the list goes on and on). In one term of classes, my eyes have already been opened to the vast differences in culture and individual perspectives; issues that I had been dealing with at home seem ridiculous when compared to famine and $1.25 per day that my classmates are familiar with. Moreover, it’s not just reading about these far-off places (Malawi, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Uganda) and theorizing about how life is lived there; it’s a chance for me to talk with new friends about how their lives are and how their personal experiences have changed their personal paths.

Perhaps the best part about the move, though, is the fact that I now know that I am fully capable of being on my own in the world. Despite having lived away from my family for the past five years, I was close enough to know that I could call if ever there were an issue. Now, I am in a completely foreign country with an entirely new set of people surrounding me and amazing new experiences every day and I absolutely love every second of it. I know now that I am capable of keeping my options open after graduating, and living/working abroad without feeling detached. Instead of being scared of things, I feel as though now I have fully realized that every day brings something new: new people to meet, new things to learn, new mistakes to make and new ways to be a better, more fulfilled person.

So, for anyone wondering whether a move is a good decision: what is there to lose? Really? A small bit of income that can be regained? Leaving behind some friends that you can contact via Facebook and Skype? On the flip side, think of everything that you can gain from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I think in this case the reward is definitely worth the risk.

Lots of love from London,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Ghosts of Christmas Past.

Being that this is my first Christmas on my own, I couldn’t help but sift through old pictures from Christmases past. To my family & friends out in California (and abroad): I love you all and hope that you all have an amazing Christmas! Wishing I could be with you all on my most favorite holiday of the year, but I’m sending love and positive thoughts your way.

Check out some of these pictures from the last few Christmases:

Prepping Christmas dinner with Nana, 2006

Mimi’s 1st Christmas with us — one of our Christmas gifts to Nana.
The reindeer ears didn’t stay on for very long, but it was a cute idea! 2006.

Chris & I at Tara and Greg’s on Christmas Eve, 2007.
Lots of wine & seven fishes. Mmmm.

With Nanu & Nana, 2007, when the whole family was still together <3.

Only two years ago, but Alyssa was so tiny!

Mac & I, Christmas 2008 at the McDonald house!

Mom & Dad, Christmas 2008.

I always have such amazing memories from Christmas and although I don’t get to be with my family, I did get a special surprise  in the form of an early morning Skype session with the fam and with Chris — definitely a good way to start off Christmas day! I’m having some folks over for Christmas breakfast/brunch and coffee before we go out and explore the quiet streets of London (something that can only happen once a year!)

Here’s a song/video that always puts me a good Christmas mood; definitely a classic!

To everyone reading:

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

To my grandpa, who’s no longer with us — wish you could be here, but you’ll always be here in spirit. Inhobbok hafna.

Malta, Days 3 & 4

So, now that we’re finally settled, it’s time to re-cap days three and four in magnificent Malta. Wednesday was a visit to the beautiful Blue Grotto in the morning (a place that came highly recommended by my grandmother and my late grandfather), followed by an evening of family fun with Sylvana & Joe and a night out in Paceville (pronounced Pah-tchay-ville).  We spent Thursday exploring the capital city of Valletta, followed by our last supper, courtesy of Teddy & Angela.

Wednesday’s weather made for a perfect sight-seeing day. Though a ferry to the Blue Grotto wasn’t really on the agenda (it was too blustery), we had an amazing view and got some great shots of the water from above — the area was seriously fantastic; definitely a must-see for anyone in Malta!


After our Blue Grotto trip, we checked out some other old (3500 years-plus) temples and got a pretty sweet glimpse of the island of Filfla (you can see it in the background)! It’s super tiny and uninhabited — it looks like a big rock floating in the water <3.

Our dinner on Wednesday was super delish & entirely too much fun with two kiddos running around.

For one of the first times since my grandpa passed away, I was reminded of how much I miss seeing him and talking with him. I felt an urge around day two to call him and use my newly-acquired Maltese skills and suddenly remembered that he wasn’t there anymore… definitely made me a bit sad, but it was nice being able to see where he was born and where his family came from.

After our dinner and family time, we headed out for a far-too-late night in Paceville, courtesy of one Paul Sebastian (aka best tour guide ever). After getting home at around 230A and enjoying three qaghaq tal-ghasel, I felt I had done my work in annihilating my poor family’s kitchen.

We hit up Valletta on Day 4 and it definitely ties with Mdina for being the cutest city! There are so many fun shops there and loads of cute cafes & eateries (and gorgeous views)! We had a seriously delish lunch at Cafe Jubilee before departing. Paul had mentioned the Maltese chain earlier and it definitely lived up to expectations — good food and totally affordable!

Missing the sunshiney days and happy people of Malta already!

To see the whole Malta album, click here!

Family Fun on the Island!

I have so much to catch up on, but I thought a post about the fun family gatherings we’ve experienced thus far would make for a good filler for family keeping up with my homeland hoorah! Too much family fun in four short days; the sadness about leaving tomorrow is hitting me… *tear*

Monday:

{Zija Cikka & I}

Our first family dinner was at Zija Cikka’s house in Qormi — Soppa Tal-Armla (Widow’s Soup), Gbejniet (Maltese cheese), & Gina’s super delish homemade chocolate cake! It was so fun finally catching up with my mom’s Maltese family!

Tuesday

Some good times in Gozo:

{Charlie & Paul at the Azure Window}

Paul & I at Ggantija Temple in Gozo!

Wednesday:

First stop — Ziju Zeppi’s farm!

{Paul, Zeppi & Maria Luisa}

{Paparazzi shot on the farm}

{View from the farm}

Dinner yesterday was at Joe & Sylvana’s house — delicious & entirely too much fun with two little monkeys running around:

Hosts <3.{Joe & Sylvana}

{Rosie & Joe}

{Princess Martina & I}

{Alex & Katrina}

[Falzon – Farrugia – Saliba Family]

I’ve had such an amazing trip thus far and am so incredibly sad to be leaving tomorrow…. I am in love with my family! I’m looking for a super cheap ticket to come back here for Christmas! Otherwise, I’ll be back in summer 2010 for Part II.

To see the whole Malta album, click here!

PS. PSS (you know who you are), I love you to the moon & am so thankful for the amazing trip you coordinated! You and your family are the most amazing people on the face of the planet!

The Isle of Calypso

Looking through the 658 pictures that I’ve taken thus far, I realize I have to play a serious game of catch-up! I still have some fun pictures from Day 1 and 2 to upload, but I’m going to fast-forward to yesterday’s journey. We woke up to semi-warm Mediterranean sunshine and decided that it would be a good day to take a journey to the Maltese island of Gozo (Maltese: Għawdex, pronounced OW-desh). Gozo’s a quick 20-minute journey by ferry from the mainland and though it was windy, it was definitely a gorgeous view!

[The view of Mellieha on the way down to the ferry was pretty outstanding, too!]

We had a pretty great view of Gozo from the ferry. The island is so small that you can literally see the entire thing and capture it from a camera lens from a distance!

As you can tell, it was a pretty blustery day on the ferry but the views of Gozo were worth standing on the sun deck.

Gozo has been inhabited for around 5000 years and has a ridiculously long and amazing history, so our day was jam-packed. Lesson: If your journey is well-planned (and you’re with some Grade A tour guides who take care of you!), you can see all the major sites in a day. First stop on our agenda?

The Azure Window:

The natural arch is thought to have been created millions of years ago and is absolutely breath-taking! The water is insanely blue and the journey to see the arch close-up is a trek along fossilised rock. Probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen yet!

After our trip to the Window, we headed to the Citadella (didn’t really get any pics there) which is set on the hill of the capital city. It was built as a fortress of sorts to protect the island from attacks. We got to tour the inside and it was pretty awesome! After our mini tour (and a mini bout of rain), we headed to the Ggantija Temples which are a UNESCO Heritage site and date back to around 3500 BC.

By the end of the day, we were officially exhausted and napped on the ferry ride back home! Our tour guides had everything planned perfectly — we got sooo much in during a single day! Gozo’s definitely a nice trip for anyone visiting Malta. And the few Gozitans that populate the small island seemed friendly as well! Fun fact: Gozitans speak a slightly different version of Maltese… a little bit more Arabic-sounding. Just a fun fact to throw in your arsenal of goodies during Trivial Pursuit.

Love from Malta,

Wanna see all the pictures? Click here!

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