Would you believe that this was my fifth time writing a beginning-of-the-academic-year article for The Insiter? Madness, I know. I have become a bit of a nanna in the Insiteworld and, along with this long Insite career, I have also accumulated quite a few years as a university student, whether that’s in Malta, Iceland, or the United Kingdom (as I’m sure you’ve realised if you’ve been a reader for a few months or so). This might indicate that I am slightly wiser than many University of Malta students, but do not be fooled: I still struggle with speaking in front of a large group of students during lectures and seminars, and my tenuous relationship with deadlines continues. However, my long years as a student have certainly endowed me with an enhanced understanding of what really matters while receiving a tertiary education, and this is summarised quite succinctly in the Thought of the Month below. Firstly though, I share my top books and songs of the summer.
Books of the Month
I spent most of the last few weeks diligently thrashing out 20,000 words for my Master’s dissertation, so most of the books I was obsessed with had painfully boring titles such as In Defence of Naval Supremacy and The British Seaborne Empire. However, I discovered a couple of true gems earlier this summer, which I believe are Must Reads.
Firstly, there’s The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which won this year’s Orange Prize for Fiction. It is a beautifully-written novel set in Ancient Greece, echoing Homer’s Iliad. Don’t let this put you off: the story is steeped in emotion and excitement, and you will not be able to put it down. The main focus of the book is on the budding relationship between Patroclus and Achilles; it is probably the most genuine love story I have ever read.
The second book which really caught my attention was Perfume by Patrick Süskind. This novel blew me away with its captivating exploration of the sense of smell. It is described as ‘the story of a murderer’, but the bulk of the book does not deal with murder at all. The story traces the life of Grenouille, a curious man with an unmatched sense of smell, who discovers a scent purer than anything he had ever come across before. From start to finish, this book is a masterpiece, and I cannot imagine how much richer it must be in German (the original language of publication).
Music of the Month
Having lived in England for the entire “summer” (it’s not really summer: it rained a lot and I wore scarves on most days), I really felt the fun vibes of the Olympics, Paralympics, and some pretty wonderful festivals, even if I did not attend any this year. Therefore, my stand-out songs for this month are: I Will Wait (Mumford & Sons), Times Like These (Foo Fighters), and To Kingdom Come (Passion Pit).
Thought of the Month
The beginning of a new academic year (especially if you are a fresher) is always the perfect time for new habits and activities. Organise all you need for every study-unit and their respective assessments (with red marks on your calendar for assignment deadlines or exam dates), and start reading up on every subject by the end of October.
Equally as important: get involved in extra-curricular university life, whether that means campaigning for the LGBT Society, writing a couple of articles for insiteronline.com, or whipping your hair back and forth at an SDM party. So make sure to get out there, and make your life interesting!
(This article originally appeared in the first edition of The Insiter, Vol. 13.)