Medicine and the Music of Malta

With an ethereal voice and a heart of gold, this fourth-year student has made his time in Malta a story to sing from the rafters…

When Manraj Singh Gharial landed in Malta to embark on a degree in medicine, he decided to embrace everything the island has to offer. Unsure of where to start, he fell back on what he knows best: music. Now in his fourth year, Manraj sings in a choir, has played flute with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and even volunteers as an emergency responder.

Tuning into Gozo’s melody

The first thing that struck Manraj upon landing in Gozo was just how important music is to the local people and culture. As an experienced flautist, he decided music was the best way to discover the island and embrace Maltese culture. 

“Once I got involved in the music community, the whole island opened up,” Manraj explains. “Being in a band led me to meet the conductor of a choir. Being in that choir allowed me to move into a different band in a different town.” 

Manraj struck up a friendship with the local choir conductor, a talented musician with a love for Catholic music. Manraj has since sung in churches and masses across Gozo, including Xewkija Rotunda, a church with the world’s third-highest unsupported dome.

“I also play in a band. It isn’t the typical university band; it’s a classical band. Being a wind band, it includes brass instruments and woodwind instruments, occasionally some percussion, but because I was in this band, I also had the opportunity to practice with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Music also provides Manraj with an outlet for when he’s feeling stressed or down.

“Everyone needs something to fall back on, and for me, music is perfect. I’ve never been the best at expressing my feelings, but music allows me to express them in a way that’s easily understandable to those around me. I love the rehearsals, the friendships, and the feeling of achievement at the end.”

How volunteering opened new paths

Manraj is an advocate for volunteering, a way to give back to the community that’s supporting his medical journey, but he wishes he could do more.

“As a cash-strapped student, one of my most valuable assets is my time. I’ve always wanted to give money to charity, but unfortunately, I’m not in a position where I can do that now. What I can do is volunteer and give back to the community that’s teaching me and giving me experiences. I also enjoy it because I meet people from all over the island, all over the world, and I’m constantly surprised by how multicultural Malta can be.”

In addition to volunteering as an usher at the local opera, Manraj also gives his time to the Emergency Response & Rescue Corps, working as an emergency ambulance driver. “Coordinating ambulance and first-aid crews in high-stress situations has taught me to think critically and act decisively, even when chaos surrounds me. It’s helped me cultivate a profound sense of responsibility, reminding me of the crucial role of pre-hospital care.”

Manraj is also the founder of the Sikh Society. He says it’s been a great way to teach others of his religion and show people that just because someone looks different from you, it doesn’t mean they think differently.

Musical student at Queen Mary Malta, shares his stories of making the most out of hobbies in Malta.
Chef Samual carrying leeks to use in his Maltese cuisine.

How will you make the most of life in Malta?

Manraj is looking forward to leaving his legacy to the next generation, but he would like to share some advice to anyone thinking of studying medicine here.

“Some of you might be wondering, why study in a British university abroad? Why not just study in London? I say, medicine is universal, but experiences are very individual and personal. Life is about collecting stories that you can one day go and share—and where better to train to become a doctor than an island filled with music?”

Still not convinced?

Queen Mary, Malta Campus is a global leading university with highly qualified lecturers. Do not leave it too long, our course is regularly oversubscribed. Register your interest at the earliest opportunity.