Manraj Singh Gharial is a second-year medical student at Queen Mary Malta. In his profile, Manraj tells us about getting his place at Queen Mary in Clearing, adjusting to life in Gozo, and what he does in his spare time.
During the first year of the pandemic, my exams were cancelled so I missed my original offers. I found out about Queen Mary through Clearing and was interviewed for a place studying Medicine in London, but missed out due to the delay in standardisation of A-level grades. At that stage, there were only places available for Medicine at the Malta campus, and when I found out that the qualification would be identical to the one that I would receive in the UK, I decided to take the offer.
Gozo is the hidden treasure chest of culture and opportunity sitting quietly in the Mediterranean. Having ended up at Queen Mary Malta purely by accident, I can definitely say that it has been one of the best accidents of my life. There is such a strong sense of community on this small island that, once you manage to integrate into it, never lets you feel alone.
I have tried to throw myself into all the island has to offer - I was keen on music before I moved to Malta so I was surprised to see how important music, and the arts, are to the people of Malta and Gozo. I joined one of the national choirs that operates primarily out of Gozo and have had the opportunity to sing at beautiful churches and venues. Every town has its own band, and I was lucky enough to join one of the main bands in Victoria, Gozo’s largest town. I have met many other like-minded musicians and even had the opportunity to perform for members of parliament including the Maltese president.
I also joined the emergency first aid response crew in Gozo. Although, I had already completed first aid training, I retrained with them and learned a lot about dealing with emergencies. I try to volunteer at least once a week, and sometimes more often. Being such a large organisation, I am always paired with new volunteers and have made friends across Malta and Gozo from all walks of life - from professional accountants to chefs - as well as other medical/nursing students.
The University itself also has many sports opportunities that I go along to occasionally. It can be a fun place to meet students from other years or just have a run around with some friends.
Music has always been something I have enjoyed. Though the rehearsals and practising are always something gruelling, coming together with all the other ensemble members and performing gives me a sense of satisfaction that makes you want to do it all over again. Performing gives me a break from the life of a medical student and allows me to focus on other aspects of myself. This helps prevent burn out and allows me to enjoy my work much more, knowing that I have something to do when I am not working.
The emergency first aiding has helped my communication and my practical knowledge immensely. If you asked me to identify different types of cranial bleeds on a CT scan I (theoretically) should be able to recite them to you... but put me in front of someone who has just fallen off their motorcycle and has a concussion, my guess would have been as good as anyone else’s. Being a part of the Response Corps allows me to apply the knowledge I acquire to real life situations and it has, occasionally, tested my medical skills more than university itself. This is something I would urge all medics and aspiring medics to get involved in because it shows you the reality of medicine.
I am not so much your avid partier so for fun, I – alongside my friends – like exploring the island. Malta and Gozo have an innumerable amount of picturesque and beautiful landscapes that allow you to see to the ends of the horizon. Views like these can only really be seen in very few places and I want to take advantage of them during my five years on this island.
There is always something going on in the bars or at a restaurant, so you are always one message away from a fun night out.
Having grown up in Kenya and then moving the UK, I already had to adjust to a new environment. The move to Malta rekindled some of those feelings about adapting. The chance to move away from home, though unplanned, meant that my journey to being an independent adult was fast-tracked. You get to experience a Mediterranean island, meet people from every corner of the world, and make friends from all walks of life – all while learning medicine and getting a UK qualification, from a Russell Group university.
Moving does have its challenges but one of the things that made it much more enjoyable was the fact that the majority of the students at Queen Mary Malta are adapting to the changes with you. As we’re pushed to the edges of our comfort zones, it’s given us the chance to make deeper and more meaningful friendships – most of which I am sure will last well beyond my university life.;