Bonjour Strasbourg!

P3311796.JPGAh, Strasbourg; I visited it for the first time in my life about a month ago, and well and truly fell for the beauty of it. I can’t say whether it was the bright timber houses or the overall fairytale-esque feel of the place, but I fell for it.

The reason I went to Strasbourg was actually a rather cool one: I had been one of a few students who got chosen from my school after sitting for an entry test to go on the Euroscola trip. This meant that we were going to not only visit the European Parliament but alsP3311776.JPGo sit in the MEPs’ seats and have our own plenary session.

The first day in Strasbourg practically consisted solely of travelling, but the second day was packed with action. Once hopping off the tram at our stop we stood gazing at the beautiful EU Parliament building. It was massive, I can tell you that!

Our morning session lasted a few hours and during that time we had the chance to ask Michael Crammer, an MEP who was talking to us on a video call, some questions. I had prepared one beforehand and despite feeling as if I lacked the confidence to speak in front of some 570 people, knew that I would kick myself afterwards for losing the oppurtunity. In short, I was chosen to pose a question and with all the courage I could muster, stood up and spoke into the microphone on my desk.

If you have been following my blog for some time you may have probably noticed that I often write about our right to a freedom of expression (no surprise, really. I write a blog after all!) – if you have, you may have a hunch of what I asked Michael Crammer 😉  In simple terms, I asked him what the EU’s position is about libel suits and garnishee orders being used to bully and intimidate journalists, as is currently happening in Malta. He replied that for nearly thirty years he was “deemed an idiot” in Germany for strongly opposing nuclear power, and now here we are in 2017, working towards using renewable energy sources whilst trying to phase out nuclear power (a great ‘who’s laughing now’ moment, right?). His point was that freedom of speech is important because it helps bring change and limiting it is

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Timber houses in Petite France – this area practically screamed “Beauty and the Beast”

intolerable.

You have no idea how glorious it felt being addressed to personally about such a matter in the EU Parliament – I’ll never forget that feeling.

On our third day in Strasbourg, we visited the Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. We then walked through the city centre and one of the main roads, and if we turned at a 90 degree angle to our left we would have realised that we were standing beneath the great, gigantic intricately designed work of art that is the gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. None of the dozen photographs I took of it can do it justice – it was so, so breath-taking. The view from the top was just as wonderful, if not more so – I can clarify this because we walked up the 300-something steps within the turrets. It was so unreal that it was as if one were looking down at an unrolled map or a little wooden model of Strasbourg.

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The Parliament
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Inside the hemicycle
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Poster at the Court of Human Rights
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Addressing Crammer in front of the hemicycle
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Street book fair (situated in the perfect place: close to the cathedral)
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Descending the turret

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And before I forget:

My shared Instagram page is picking up! We’ve been adding plenty of new photographs to it these past few days.

So if you’d like to check out our snaps, see the link below:

https://www.instagram.com/amycoramegan/

Be sure to have a look through our portfolio on Shutterstock, too:

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Amy+Cora+Megan



As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Songs To Repel The Studying Blues

If you’re anything like me, you find sitting at a desk in front of an avalanche of revision notes really daunting if the room is dead quiet. That’s precisely why I am a firm believer of creating playlists brimming with songs to listen to through my earplugs whilst I’m 2016-12-29 09.51.10.pngrevising.

Below is a list of some of my favourites (in no particular order):

1 ) Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

2) Everything by Michael Buble  (literally everything – I love his ‘jazz’ voice)

3) La Vie En Rose covered by Louis Armstrong

4) Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits

– It’s really catchy. I sometimes find myself singing along to it when I’m supposed to be reading Iago’s soliloquys…

5) Tiny Dancer by Elton John

6) Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

7) City of Stars from La La Land (sung by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone)

– It has an old feel to it, which I love. The Fools Who Dream is another gorgeous one, as is Mia and Sebastian’s Theme (also tracks in the film).

8) Watching the Wheels by John Lennon

9) Wonderwall by Oasis

10) Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John

– “If I knew the tunes I might join in”.

11) When You’re Smiling by Louis Armstrong

 – “Stop that sighin’, be happy again”.

12) I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) by Sandi Thom

– This song can be so relatable sometimes.

13) Feelin’ So Good by The Archies

14) Our Last Summer by ABBA

– Although I usually listen to the version sung by Colin Firth in the film Mamma Mia! .

15) Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong

– ‘Cause it never gets old.

16) Hey Jude by The Beatles

– ” Naa, naa, na NA NA NAAA

NAA NAA NA NA

HEY JUDE “

My playlist is ever-growing and ever-changing, but those are the songs that remain pretty much permanent.

Oh, one last thing:

If it makes your revision easier to handle, just extinguish the sound of silence with The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)    😉

Sorry, I couldn’t not write that.

It’s just too punny.

Will write again soon (and I promise not to add such corny puns),

Meg

 

 

Freedom of Expression and Other Frowned Upon Things

 


With so much happening in the world it is impossible to stay put and keep quiet about things. When Trump was running for presidency I could not resist expressing how I felt about it – even more so when he actually won the election. It was a moment many people had been dreading worldwide, and there is proof of this in all the videos of worldwide protests on the day of his inauguration.

I cannot count the number of times I have painted a detailed picture of what Trump truly is and have been attacked for it. I do of course understand that people share different opinions and I accept that – can you imagine what would happen if everyone thought the same way? – but is it right that we should be insulted for sharing our own personal view on things?

Of course it isn’t.

You would think that in the age of virtual reality and artificial intelligence people would have grown out of it, but then again perhaps not.

In this day and age you would think that sexism should be on the verge of dying out, but when you see how women and girls are frowned upon or viciously attacked both verbally and physically for expressing their opinion you realise just how far we are from that. Look at Malala Yousafzai: she peacefully protested in favour of girls having the right to an education and refused to remain silent when the Taliban took control of her home, the Swat Valley. Since many men believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and not at school getting an education, the Taliban shot her in 2012 on a school bus. She has made a miraculous recovery and is still campaigning for everybody’s right to an education, especially all of those girls who are denied it.

When I wrote about how I felt on Trump’s inauguration day on social media my post was once again flooded with arguments; more than usual, in fact. I wrote exactly what I felt in my heart and what I am sure many felt as well: my disbelief at how eight years ago we were all gathered around our televisions watching Barack Obama’s inauguration (history in the making)  and now we were watching a sexist, racist narcissist with his finger hovering over the nuclear weapon button take his place.

I cannot say I was not expecting people to argue with me (and believe me they did) but you know that they have gone way too far when they begin to insult you, calling you an “idiot” and an “imbecile” just because you dared to write against what they believe is the key to America being made great again. I hope they realise that a) America will only be made worse and b) the world will be affected and not just the US.

The boy who called me an “imbecile” said that I haven’t got any arguments and am simply just calling Trump names.

Well, we all know what Trump thinks of women:

  • In 1991, Trump spoke to a magazine about the media: “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  •  In 1992, Trump said that German gold-medal winning Olympic ice skater Katarina Witt was “wonderful looking while on the ice but up close and personal she could only be described as attractive if you like a woman with a bad complexion who is built like a linebacker”.
  • And who could forget his “locker room banter”?

As for racist: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to John O’Donnell, a former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

And when it comes to narcissist, well, Trump is the definition of the word.

The point I am trying to make however is not really about Trump at all; it is about how we (especially women, young women and girls) are continuously stripped of our right to freedom of speech. Many reading this might say that it was merely just a bunch of ridiculous comments on social media and that I am overreacting, but it is a shame that things like this happen all the time and are not given a second thought.

Everything appears to most as less harmful when it happens online, when the perpetrator is hidden behind their screen. Some of the comments on my more recent Trump related posts were written by people who have practically never even spoken to me in real life despite us seeing each other around nearly everyday. I know better than to give them the pleasure by answering them back.


So to all the people out there who have ever been attacked for expressing their opinion:

Do not stop doing so. Your opinion counts just as anyone else’s and it is golden. After all, our generation will be in charge of the world one day and we are going to have to speak out if we disagree with what the “experts” are doing. Just like Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we go high”.

Make your voice heard, it’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘*’* Happy New Year *’*’

To all my dear readers,

I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am that you’ve carried on reading my blog ever since I started it up in the first week of February this year. Thank you so much!

Since I am not very good at writing lengthy end-of-year posts, I’d just like to finish by wishing you all a wonderfully happy new year. So here it is:

*Cue the fireworks*

>>>>>  HAPPY  NEW  YEAR! <<<<<

I’ll be writing again soon .

Meg  🙂

The New Beatles Film Is A True Gem

Finally – the perfect excuse for me to write a whole post about my forever favorite band.

Eight Days a Week, the new film celebrating The Beatles and how they came to be, premiered worldwide yesterday evening and it was fantastic!

Seeing the live broadcast from Leicester Square, London was a wonderful experience; especially when none other than Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr arrived on the blue carpet.

To celebrate Ron Howard’s new film, I’ve gathered a few moments from the film and put them into words.

*Cue the fan girl screams*

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  1. In their early years as a band, The Beatles played under many different names and had a completely different look.IMG_4579.JPG

 

That all changed when Brian Epstein stepped in and changed their look from leather jackets and jeans to suits and ‘mop tops’.

 

 

2. The Fab Four’s humour shines through for a lot of the film.

IMG_4578.JPGTheir quick, cheeky comebacks never fail to get a laugh. At one point in the film each one of them introduces himself and states what instrument he plays. George says that he plays solo guitar, and John follows by saying that he plays ‘better guitar’.

 

3. Beatlemania was a seriously crazy time.
We all knew that already, but in the film we actually get glimpses of young girls screamingimg_4581 their heads off, crying violently and some actually fainting and being carried away by policemen. The screams got worse each time one of the Beatles tossed his head and sent his hair swaying to the beat of a song.
3. All that head tossing and shimmying had a purpose.
Although Paul and John mainly hopped up
and down to keep the beat of the music, it also served as an indicator to Ringo who, like the other three band members, couldn’t hear a thing and so needed to know when to come in with his drum solo.img_4582
4. The Beatles couldn’t keep up with the screams of their fans.
Live concerts were a tough time for the four, especially when they performed at Shea Stadium in New York City in 1965, where a total of more than 56,000 Beatle fans screamed all through the show.
Shea Stadium

 

5. John remarked that The Beatles were becoming ‘more popular than Jesus’…

…which led to Beatle hate spreading like a wildfire through America -both metaphorically and literally- as radio stations actually asked people to ferry their Beatles records and merchandise to a dumping site where they would be set alight. It was pure madness. img_4589

 

6. The first ever non-segregated concert was one of The Beatles’ concerts on their 1964 American tour.

Upon hearing that their concert was to have the audience separated by race, the four refused to perform until they were assured that the audience would be mixed. Paul called the idea of segregation “stupid” and Ringo said that they played for all people, not for a specific race. It was a pure triumph for civil rights.

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Proof that civil rights were lacking in the U.S. in the ’60s

 

 

 

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A piece from a newspaper from the ’60s

 

 

 

 

In fact, Dr. Kitty Oliver is interviewed in the film and she recalls her experience of being surrounded by white people for the first time in her life in America (it was, of course, at a Beatles concert). She says that she was afraid to even knock elbows with someone, as she had no idea how they would have reacted. It was a really moving experience for her.

IMG_4587.JPG7. John was the first to consider stopping going on tours.

In the film he says that when he sang Help! he truly meant it. The Beatles began to realise that with all of the fans being beaten by police as they ran on stage and all of the casualties during their concerts, it was beginning to look like a “freak show”. The fans’ hysteria was so bad that the band had to be driven away from a concert in a truck used to transport meat as it was solid and had no windows on its sides which could be smashed by the mobs.

8. In 1969, The Beatles held an impromptu concert on the rooftop of the Apple Corps headquarters.IMG_4580.JPG

One of their most memorable performances and -though unknown to anyone at the time- their last one as a group. People in the streets below stopped to listen to the band for a full 42-minute set, before the police asked the latter to lower the volume.

 

9. There is more footage after the film’s credit roll.

IMG_4586.JPGA full half-hour (the entire set) of remastered footage from The Beatles’ concert at Shea Stadium in 1965, to be exact. At one point when Paul starts to sing I’m Down, John suddenly stops playing his guitar and goes off into a crazy performance, reacting to the fans’ hysteria. He plays the harmonium with his elbow, and this causes George to go into a mad laughing fit, losing the ability to continue playing as well. Needless to say, the audience (both the one present at the stadium and the one at the cinema watching the film)  loved every minute of it.

10. People who watched the film might have spotted their younger onscreen selves freaking out as the Beatles made an appearance.

It’s a funny thought, but could very well be a fact.

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And now, 56 years after they first formed, The Beatles are still considered to be one of the greatest bands of all time…

…so much so that when Paul or Ringo are spotted in the street, all is forgotten and the hysteria returns.

 

 


 

Let me know what you thought of Eight Days a Week (if you’ve seen it yet) and which is your favorite Beatle song in the comment section below!

 

The Little Green Journal

How to survive exams (and do well)

*Apologizes for being away so long*

Having been sitting for plenty exams the past month or so, I have not had much time to work on my blog.

With that being said, I thought that I would share a few tips that I came up with on how to survive examinations. So here it goes:

  1. Start revising early

Or more to the point: do not leave it to the last minute.

2)  Keep a snack and drink next to you2016-05-09 10.04.13

A cup of tea will calm you too.

 

3)  Summarise

It can be quite daunting studying from printed black and white notes. That is why I like to make my own short and colourful notes. It has also been scientifically proven that colour helps us to remember things more successfully.

4)  Keep a plant on your desk

It adds life to your revision. If you don’t fall under the green finger category, go for something which doesn’t require too much care, like a succulent or a cactus.2016-04-01 10.31.41.png

5)  Take an interest

I know that studying isn’t the most exciting thing on Earth, but do things that could help you with your revision when you are not looking at your school books. For example, if you are revising for your French exam, you could read a French magazine or watch a film in French.

6) Take a break

Actually, take many breaks. We are human beings, not robots. It is impossible for our brains to store so much information without doing anything else in between. Don’t, however, resort to scrolling through your newsfeed on social networks. Go for a walk in2016-02-21 17.43.36.png the glorious fresh air, take some shots of the summer sky or read a book (if you go for the latter, my friend at La Chouette DIY, Cooking and More drew up a list of her reading suggestions here). Do whatever makes you happy; just don’t remain glued to your revision for too long.

 

I hope these tips helped you in some way. Exams can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes nerve-racking, but I put the nerves at bay by remembering one thing:  once you are in the exam room it is just you and the paper. You have full control of the paper, but the paper is not a monster which can retaliate and swallow you whole! (Do not make a mess of it though!)

Don’t stress and do your best – the key to surviving exams in my opinion.

Good luck with your exams!