Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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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Ringing in 2010, London-style!

I must say, there’s no better way to welcome in a new year than with people you love! Despite having been a bit under the weather, I think not going out would have been a pretty ominous way to start the new year. With all the milestones that marked my 2009, I have a feeling that 2010 will be even bigger yet. Getting my Masters, finding my life’s path (at least temporarily), figuring out where I’m going to live… This year will probably be the most influential in guiding my life (no pressure, right?) In any case, I decided to spend my last day of 2009 and first few hours of 2010 with friends in London — I can’t imagine a better way.

My flatmate, Lindsay; her friend, Cole, and I headed to Primrose Hill for lunch. Despite having lived in London for nearly four months, I still hadn’t really ventured out into the outskirts of the city (outside the central area) so it was a fun experience. After lunch, we headed to the actual hill to take in the views:

Cole, Lindsay & I at Primrose Hill!

Pretty sweet views.

Lunch was my good-bye time with Lindsay & Cole — they are spending their first few days of 2010 gallivanting around Turkey! Can’t say I’m not a little jealous. If I didn’t have papers to write and studying to do, another trip might be in order for me!

London provides a lot, in terms of entertainment, for ringing in the New Year. Our original plan was to hang out in Trafalgar Square (which is semi-analogous with Times Square in New York), but we decided to take in the views of the fireworks from the North bank of the river. There were thousands of people that had the same idea — the place was seriously packed, but the 7-1/2 minute firework show was pretty fantastic. The London Eye is gorgeous at night! I was mesmerized (as Wen can attest to), and the coordination of the London Eye’s changing colors with the fireworks provided a pretty awesome show.

And who better to celebrate with than fellow LSE kiddos?

Flatmates: Keti & I!

Wen & Alex!

Immediately following the fireworks show, it started snowing! It definitely made for a pretty magical New Year. Also, as a side note — kudos to the city of London for providing free public transportation last night. Definitely a responsible move by the city.

I’m still working on my New Year’s Resolution (I tend to be against them), but I’m leaning towards being the best version of myself. In every way. Physically — working out more and taking care of myself; academically — working hard and putting forth the best work that I can on each and every occasion; and personally — creating bonds, building more friendships and taking advantage of opportunities to socialize and grow as a person.

It’s actually a pretty lofty resolution, but I think it’s doable since it’s all under my control! Here’s to Day 1!

What did you guys do to ring in the New Year? Any resolutions?

Lots of love,

Saying Goodbye to 2009.

It’s 930A, I’m up and feeling much better than I have been the last few days. Sniffles are gone and congestion has nearly disappeared! Thank God for lots of water, soup and Bendadryl to help me sleep about 18 hours yesterday. I’ve been holed up for a few days but I woke up this morning to the realization that today marks the last day of 2009. Crazy, really. Where has this year gone?! Despite the fact that time has flown by, a lot has happened this year for me; lots of big changes that have had a big impact on my life. Time for me to reminisce a bit and welcome in 2010!

Dad & I took our first international trip together in February. We visited England to look at possible grad schools… that was only 10 months ago? Wow. I’m already through 3 months of grad school!

I don’t know if I secretly thought/hoped that my grandparents would live forever, but my grandpa passed away in March and it was the first time I had to say goodbye to someone with whom I was extremely close. It was also the first family death I had to deal with in my adult life, and it marked the first eulogy I ever delivered. Even though I know he’s not alive anymore, I often still feel like he’s here, which makes living life much easier.

Got my acceptance to LSE in April (I applied quite late)! I actually recall the moment of my acceptance with 100% clarity. I think it’s like the JFK assassination moment that everyone from that generation talks about — you know exactly what you were doing and exactly where you were. I was so elated when I got the letter, definitely changed the course of my life. Here I am now, half way through taught courses with amazing new friends and loads of fun travel stories. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else!

Ahhh… graduation from undergrad was a very bitter-sweet moment for me. It was great to be able to say goodbye to my undergrad and know that I had the opportunity to pursue my Masters in London in the fall, but it was sad graduating and not having my grandpa there for the first time. Nevertheless, definitely a milestone!

A surprise birthday weekend for Tiff & our first family vacation in forever! We planned a surprise getaway to Carmel for Tiffany’s 19th Birthday this year, complete with handmade surprises and super-cute B&B. It was the first family vacation we’d been on in years (since Disneyland days) and it was the first time we got to bring nana along! So fun!

Saying goodbye to work after four years! It was quite difficult quitting a reliable job with a steady income to welcome a life of joblessness and full-time Masters work. I’m glad now that I had the wherewithal to actually leave, but it was a bit sad… four years of bonding and relationships and saying goodbye to the full-time job that allowed me to pay my way through undergrad.

One of the biggest things that happened this year? Moving to London! I really didn’t think I had it in me to leave my family, friends, relationships and the normalcy of California life  to move to a foreign country for (at least) a year. I’m happy to announce that I did manage to say my tearful goodbyes and settle in to London life. Quite happily, I might add. I already feel so much more fulfilled & so much more educated!

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I didn’t even realize that I had experienced so many life-altering changes this year. How can a year go by so fast and still contain so many memories? I must admit, this blog has definitely come in handy! I had created it with the intention of keeping up with friends and family from afar, but I have found that it has become the best online journal imaginable. Now that I know there are people reading about my daily adventures and trips, I feel somewhat accountable to upload pictures and thoughts on a regular basis. Now, a year later, it’s fun going back and remembering the things that I would have otherwise forgotten!

Thank you to everyone who made my 2009 amazing.
Let’s get ready to take on 2010!

Now, I’m off to make breakfast and face the last day of 2009. Possibly hitting up Trafalgar Square tonight to ring in the New Year!

Love my fish.

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!