April 22, 2012, by Ben Hunte
From Malaysia, With Love
“A nation of warm loving people, rejoice in a safe sunny place..
We welcome you, to share our land, salaam alaikum to you my friend.” – Malaysia Truly Asia
Selamat Datang ke Malaysia!
My name’s Ben Hunte, I’m a Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience student at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. I’m at the university on a full scholarship, with a yearly allowance to ‘experience Asia,’ and I am most definitely making the most of this awesome opportunity!
I absolutely love to write! Since falling in love with the Adrian Mole series during A Levels, I’ve been writing a daily diary in a similarly dramatised but much lengthier style. My entries allow me to look back at my life and crack-up/tear-up at all of the things that I’ve gone through, and overcome. Being given this blog is like a dream come true for me, because now all of my very vocal ‘jungle updates’, which I’ve been told are pretty entertaining, can be condensed into one well thought out entry per week. Here we go!
When I first found out about the University of Nottingham offering a scholarship to study at their Malaysia Campus, I jumped onto Youtube, in an effort to find out more about this life-changing opportunity. Whilst I couldn’t find many student videos about the university itself, or those that I did find were many years old and pretty irrelevant, what I was met with was a rather cheesy song called “Visit Malaysia,” which preached the joys of being in this tropical paradise.. To many people, it would have just been another begging advert, but to me, with my undercover love of awful tunes, it was like my soul was being serenaded. Needless to say, I put that song straight onto my iPhone, blasted it in my car, learned every single lyric, and completely fell in love with ‘Malaysia Truly Asia,’ before I had even been there.
Over the next few days, I started falling less in love with my confirmed UK university choice (which at the time, was in the UK Top 3), and more for this institution in the middle of the jungle, which I knew almost nothing about. I informed my parents, who I noticed had become accustomed to mumble “Oh that’s nice, Benj..” to all my wild and crazy plans over the years, and I informed my partner, who was obviously surprised by the news that I was essentially rubbishing our uni dreams, but nothing was for certain – yet.
In order to celebrate the absolute joy of A Level results day, a group of my theatrical friends and I decided to drive up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After a wild night out, we returned at a ridiculous hour to the mansion that we had rented for the week, where I checked my email, and my student-life changed forever. All I remember reading was the subject line of “congratulations,” and a random bold line reading “we are pleased to offer you the scholarship” before my body took over, and the communal screaming began.
Two weeks later, I was crying my eyes out at Heathrow Airport, but nevertheless sat on a plane heading to Malaysia.
As you can see from the photo, I was pretty excited when I first arrived in Malaysia, and I still am now, a year later. Let’s not lie, of course there have been plenty of emotional moments, usually following lengthy Skype convos with people back home, or from missing family events, but oh my goodness, my life has changed so much since being here, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!
Seeing as we’re so close to the end of this academic year, and I know you’re here to get the goss on everything I’m doing, I’m going to give you a run down of the best experiences I’ve had here, thus far. Hopefully my future blogs will feature a “Ben’s Moment of the Week,” so think of this as a teaser of what’s to come.
Mr & Ms Nottingham 2012.
As of two weeks ago, I am officially “Mr Nottingham 2012”!!!
It was an absolutely awesome experience. Before that crown reached my head, there were a good few weeks of auditions, modelling workshops, skipped lectures, dance rehearsals, catwalk rehearsals, and endless hours of planning and perfecting my ‘individual talent.’
I’ve performed at a lot of events on this campus, but this competition was PERSONAL! It was an opportunity for each participant to go on stage, flash their whole personality, and then either get cheered or booed in return.. utterly ruthless. From disco-ing down the catwalk in an afro and aviators, to performing my Bollywood extravaganza, with backing dancers, confetti and much hilarity, I gave it my all. I even managed to squeeze a cheeky ac cappella performance of ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ into the questions section… watch this space for videos!
One of the beauties of being in this country for uni is the opportunity to travel so much. Even as I’m writing this, I’m lying on a beach, under the light of a sunset that actually looks like a postcard photo.
Before my tutor reads this and has a go at me for not managing my time properly, I do actually have my textbooks in front of me! As nice as these breathtaking, wonderful, unimaginable weekend getaways are, revision must always come first (I hope that sounded convincing).
Expect to read an awful lot about my travelling escapades in future blog posts, as my bestie, Eiman, and I made a pact at the start of the year to not be on campus a single weekend.
For those stuck in freezing lands, depressed by gloomy weather, I’ll try to lay off of the adjectives so you don’t get too jealous.
If you know me, you know that the Performing Arts represent a big part of the ‘Ben Hunte Experience.’
Two things that I could genuinely not live without are singing and acting (but not so much dancing – I dare not embarrass myself in front of my partner, who studies dance at uni). I know all performers says this, and every single cringeworthy TV talent show contestant, but my life literally revolves around the stage.
Last semester I managed to score an internship as an assistant-teacher at an international school in KL, which allowed me to help out in drama classes, as well as take an active role in organising the christmas school play. As yet, UNMC doesn’t have a Performing Arts society, but it most definitely will next semester! My planning has begun, so bring on the Tony Award worthy productions! Fade to blackout.
Learning about all things “Psychology!”
Slight cheese, but it is my degree choice so it had to get a mention. The lectures, the academic staff, the facilities, the multiple choice exams (..I KNOW!!!), I am loving my degree. It’s that time of the year when I’m seriously wishing I worked a bit harder earlier on, but everybody says that I’ll learn from these horrible moments, so it’s fine!
Now that we’re up to speed, I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you all, and will see you next Sunday to talk about my trip this weekend, and any other business occurring in Malaysia Truly Asia!
Feel free to ask me any questions, and leave any comments in the section below