Us Europeans

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Political activism

It`s 16 February: 4 degrees above zero, strong winds from the East and with white powder moving along horizontal lines in the air. Yes, it`s snowing in the very South of Italy! I am just as unpleasantly surprised as the locals are. Still, a small assembly of people on the main square of Grottaglie steadily grows into a big crowd. Eventually, about 1000 people are set to march through the streets to demonstrate against the local authorities. Objective: force the municipality to withdraw their permission to open up ? another ? junk yard next to the city.

Posted by Bruno

Staying in touch

After a short week of Malte, I am back in Italy. Today, I am finding out what I already knew: Italians are fond of talking. Whether in real life or over their mobile phone and in both cases, the conversation comes with the same gestures and facial expressions. When Italians are on the phone, it doesn`t look like they are talking to the person on the other end. From what you see, it looks more probable that they are either talking to themselves, or to just anybody happening to pass by.

Posted by Bruno

Moral values

Most of the countries I have visited so far are seeing church attendance figures decline. So is Malta, but religion keeps playing an important role in Maltese society. Malta has got one church for every square kilometer of its surface. It also has more religious holidays than state holidays. Abortion is illegal, divorce is impossible and it`s not advisable to make fun of religious leaders. How do the Maltese feel about the way their freedom of choice is limited by religious dogmas?

Posted by Bruno

Island rivalry

The island of Malta measures less than 30 kilometres from one end to the other and the sea is never further than 7 kilometres away. If you think that is small, have a look at the map again. Malta`s neighbours Comino and Gozo, also part of the Republic of Malta are even smaller! Comino has has no permanent inhabitance, but Gozo does. 31,000 People, none of whom consider themselves Maltese. They are Gozitans, and proud of it.

Posted by Bruno

Just like Ireland, Malta is a popular destination for young people who want to study English. A pleasant climate, lots of beaches and a busy night life ? they all contribute to the attraction Malta has on language students from across Europe. The Maltese themselves start learning English as soon as they start going to primary school. State schools offer it as a subject, while English is even the main language of education in private schools. Compared to continental European education, the Maltese system has some interesting features. Keep reading to know more:

Posted by Bruno

Voting ahead

All of the people I have been speaking to in Malta so far have been telling me about how the Maltese lifestyle closely resembles the Italian one. Italian fashion, Italian food, Italian corruption and many people speak Italian as a second or third language. Italy is also one of the most likely holiday destinations for Maltese traveling abroad. But some things are just different between Malta and Italy.

Posted by Bruno

Maltese weekends

It`s weekend in Malta! Summer has not yet arrived, but the terraces along Sliema`s main streets are animated with people. The weather is windy but sunny. Tourists try to take photos of the violent waves that throw themselves onto the shore. Some get caught in showers that splash against the rocks below the boulevard. A handful of locals, all earphone-equipped, are jogging or walking along the seafront as if nothing is happening. And then there`s me, trying to find out how Maltese people like to spend their weekends.

Posted by Bruno

Welcome to Malta, country number 16 on my list. Malta is the smallest member of the European Union and only has 400,000 inhabitants. Seven islands, three of which are inhabited, together make up the country. Malta is located South West of Sicily and mainland Africa. Capital city is Valetta which is a part of the main agglomeration on the North Eastern side of the biggest island. Like I did in all of the countries I visited so far, I start off with a fairly simple question: What`s Malta about?

Posted by Bruno

More food talk

Italians can have vivid discussions on just about any subject, and one of the subjects that is most certainly included is food. Villages fight between each other on how to properly prepare this-and-that meal, which herbs to use and how the village next door is doing it all wrong. In a similar matter, even students who live together are likely to argue about the ingredients of the day`s dinner. I already wrote about coffee and pasta, but there is so much more to say about Italian cuisine.. Here`s some more food talk:

Posted by Bruno

Catania, IT (View on map)   Living next to a volcano sounds like a rather risky project. Inhabitants of Catania know all about it. They live on the lower slopes of Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Etna is in constant state of eruption, but the last time its lava streams touched the… » read more

Posted by Bruno