The night of Halloween concluded the month of October and so another month began. Although I spent its first three days resting, as I had to recover from a virus which I got during my trip to Croatia in September, October 2018 ended up being a month full of events, most of which I really enjoyed.
After more than three years since my last Spanish classes, I decided to continue studying this wonderful language, this time at intermediate level. So far the lessons have been very interesting, especially the cultural elements. I also love my classmates, which for the most part are people who are way older than I am (like 30 – 50 years older) but I still get to talk to them about my passions, including video games.
Baroque art in Malta course
This month I also started a short course about Baroque art in Malta, which is offered by the Degree Plus programme. At university, I studied History of Art as my minor and I really miss studying it. Moreover, my knowledge about art in Malta is pretty basic. In October I only had two lectures at university as part of this course. The rest of the lectures are onsite ones! I am really looking forward to them.
Italian language week
As part of the Italian language week, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Malta organised four events, which fortunately and thankfully I managed to attend them all.
- Opening Conference
The first event was a conference about the Italian language and the internet. Assassin’s Creed was mentioned as a learning tool, as the first of the conference speakers, Professor Sandro Caruana mentioned the article entitled Assassin’s Creed Taught Me Italian: Video Games and the Quest for Lifelong, Ubiquitous Learning by Simone Bregni. As a huge fan of the series, especially the Ezio trilogy, I was delighted to hear that the pedagogic aspect of these games was mentioned. Personally, Assassin’s Creed didn’t teach me Italian, as I learned the language through television when I was very little, but it did teach me a lot of other things. I will go into further detail about this in another blog post. I really wish that more people, especially teachers, realise how certain video games can be used as a learning tool and not view them as a way to waste time, which is a common misconception, unfortunately.
The second speaker. Professor Francesca Chiusaroli, delineated the use of emojis in the Italian language and also went into further detail by describing her own project, Pinocchio in Emojitaliano, which involved translating the original novel of the wooden puppet turned human by Carlo Collodi into emojis.
- Leonardo Sciascia a Malta – Punti di contatto
This event had the aim of outlining the connections between Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia and Malta through songs, readings and recitals. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand most of the things that were said in this event, mostly because I cannot comprehend the Sicilian dialect, but the final song was really entertaining and had the attendees clapping to it.
- Io sono uno – Recital spettacolo su Luigi Tenco
This was definitely the highlight of the week. I was so entertained that I didn’t even think of taking a photo or video of the wonderful performance that the group of performers gave during this evening. The event largely consisted of songs by the late singer Luigi Tenco, who passed away at the young age of 28, but it also included readings of his personal letters and some original music by the performers, which was inspired by that of Tenco’s. I will study this singer during the last semester of my Italian course at University next year. My most sincere compliments go to the performers, especially the singer Edoardo Cerea, by which I was completely mesmerised. He is very talented!
The final event of this year’s Italian Language Week in Malta was the showing of the film Sconnessi, which also included a Q&A with the director, Christian Marazziti. I would like to describe this film as the fraternal twin of the film Perfetti Sconosciuti directed by Paolo Genovese, a film which I also watched in the presence of the director way back in December 2016. Whereas Perfetti Sconociuti revolves around a game which involves sharing any incoming calls and messages with friends during a dinner, Sconnessi revolves around a family which has been disconnected from the internet and as such is forced to interact with each other on a face-to-face basis. Personally, I feel that both films highlight the fact that mobile phones and the internet have a central role in modern day lifestyles, even though such advances in communication don’t always signify that communication has gotten better in quality. Personally, I believe that Sconnessi, is just an okay film, which I rated 6/10. The acting didn’t fully convince me and although there were a lot of funny instances, I found it a bit mean that the director chose to use a character with mental health problems for comedy purposes.
Earlier this year, I received an email from University stating that the Malta University Debating Union (MUDU) was looking for participants for a debating seminar, so I booked my place for what I thought would be an interesting opportunity for me in order to get trained in public speaking. The seminar turned out to be engaging, especially since John Papantoniou, who gave us training about competitive debating, was very patient in transferring his knowledge and providing us with feedback. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to speak as much as I wanted because I am still shy when I try to convey my opinions by making some sort of speech. I did, however, input my opinions while helping other participants with forming their arguments for and against the statements that were given to us to work on. Through this seminar, I got to think about things that I normally don’t think about, like how often should a constitution be changed, if any changes should be implemented at all. I also enjoyed the fact that I got to sleep in a room that is at least double the size of my bedroom in a nice hotel in Sliema, Malta, facing a public garden which has a lot of cats in it, which I visited after meals.
Maltex – Malta Philatelic Exhibition and Collector’s Fair
Between the 23rd and the 25th of October, the Maltex fair was held in Casino Maltese in Valletta. It was my first time visiting this building and I was especially amazed by the magnificent staircase leading towards the exhibition area and the ceiling of one of the rooms. I visited the fair twice, mostly because I wanted to buy some used Maltese stamps for my penfriend in China and I also wanted to get some stamps with which I started my collection. I rummaged through heaps of used stamps to find stamps that I wanted to send and to keep for myself. I also bought several stamps to use with my outgoing mail, including the newly released stamps by Maltapost which show 16 different breeds of dogs. On display, there were several items, including Coca-Cola memorabilia and a collection of milk bottles, but what amazed me the most was a collection of stamps showing mythical creatures.
I am happy to say that I finally finished playing Apotheon, which I started in August. It took me way too long, mostly because I recorded my gameplay, edited it and put it on my YouTube channel, plus I was away from home for almost a whole month in September. The best thing about this game is finding pieces of classical literature scattered all over it. As an (ex) Classical Studies student, I fully appreciate such games which might benefit other students or those who may have a very basic knowledge of the subject but are seeking to deepen their knowledge. I would like to platinum this game, which can only be done through a second playthrough, due to an added difficulty level upon completing the game for the first time, so I will definitely replay the game in the future.
After going through the pain of deleting a couple of games from my PS4 and waiting for around 50GB of data to be installed, I finally started playing Assassin’s Creed Origins. While I did not intend to get it on Day 1, because I knew it would be addicting and would, therefore, interfere with my studies, I did plan on getting it in July, so I am playing it around 3 months later than my intended date l. So far I played it every day, except for just 2 days, which means that I am really hooked to it, although I only play for around two hours every day due to my busy schedule. Needless to say, I am really entertained by this game, and it actually exceeds my expectations. Both Unity and Syndicate were quite a disappointment for me and after getting to know that Ashraf Ismail, who previously directed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, was going to direct the new Assassin’s Creed game, I really had high hopes. So far found it funny and entertaining that one can carry an NPC on a horse and that one can set many things on fire, to the extent that even Bayek can catch fire. Additionally, I have been laughing a lot because of certain names present in the video game, which have a meaning in Maltese. Among these are Issa (which in Maltese means “now”), Beka (which in Maltese means “he cried”) and Reda (which in Maltese means “he sucked”). The map is massive which basically contains Egypt as an entire country. Currently, for me, the story of this game is on par with Assassin’s Creed 2, my first and favourite Assassin’s Creed. As far as the graphics go, this is definitely the best I have seen in the series so far. It might be possible that Origins will become my favourite Assassin’s Creed, but that will be determined once I finish the game.
Films and tv series
In October I only managed to watch 8 films. To get in the mood for Halloween, I watched some films with this theme, including the Hotel Transylvania movies for the first time. I only liked the first one and I feel that the sequels were just made to milk the franchise. I rewatched The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and Edward Scissorhands, which are all films that I do recommend for this time of the year. For some reason, as a child, I used to be scared when watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, however, I watched it on Maltese tv quite a few times back then. I also managed to finally watch Battle Royale for the first time, which is pretty much the Japanese Hunger Games, only way more brutal. However, I do prefer Hunger Games, over its Japanese counterpart.
October 2018 was also the month in which I finally started the series Vikings, which I was truly enjoying and I was a bit hooked to it. However, I put it on hold, both due to time constraints and because I couldn’t see one of my favourite characters suffer anymore. I will not mention the character here to avoid spoiling it for others, but I will just say that he is a very handsome guy.
In order to balance what I am watching, I also watched Come Fly With Me, from the same makers of Little Britain, Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Even though it is less funny than the latter, I did enjoy Precious’s character – “Praise the Lord!”. I did find most of it appealing though, mostly due to the fact that I love the airport environment and I really would like to work in the Maltese one. Additionally, I started Big School, a comedy series in which Walliams also stars in, but I put it on hold after a couple of episodes as I found it a bit lacking what I’d like to describe as my kind of humour.
During this month my mailbox was pretty full. Besides receiving 60 postcards through the Postcrossing project, I also received my second letter from George, my new penfriend from China, who also sent me a lot of stamps, and a set of postcards from Julieta from Spain, as part of a private swap. In October I also had to sort a large number of postcards which I acquired from my travels in Italy and Croatia in September, including a set of postcards from Spain which I got as a gift for sending the Maltese translation of The Little Prince, which I did not expect at all, as this person already sent me a massive set of postcards from Spain two years ago. Of course, I treat every postcard I receive with love and care, but here are some of my favourites from October:
I am publishing this post a whopping 25 days into November, but this month is proving to be just as eventful, so I am quite busy. I also meant to publish this post yesterday but I have new company and I am giving most of my time to this particular someone. More on that next month!