May 15, 2012, by Ben Hunte
Revising for Exams, Making Life Plans, & Taking Public Transport
Apologies for my week off last week, I was ridiculously ill! I haven’t been sick this whole semester, so I was waiting for it to happen – but who knew my body would let me down right when I needed it most, at the start of the exam season… Absolutely perfect timing.
Either way, my illness has proved to be quite serious, so I’ve cancelled my post-exam travelling plans, and instead brought my flight home forward by 2 weeks. I’ll actually be back in the UK in a few days, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from my crazily cluttered room, my empty suitcase, and my fridge full of food. Bring on the mad rush to the airport.
In all honesty, my illness was probably the only remotely interesting thing that happened last week, because I stuck to my word, and revised solidly day in – day out. I’m one of those lucky people who can remember an awful lot without needing to go over it too much, so it was seriously strange for me to sit down and start my revision so early and so passionately, but I’m glad I did, as I will explain in a few moments..
Ben’s Moment of the Week
I’m not sure what caused my sudden need to plan my future out this week, but it’s definitely been a long time coming, as a result of being in this incredibly hard working environment.
At the beginning of this year, one of my lecturers went around the class asking us what we wanted to do with our degrees, and I was caught completely off guard because I had genuinely not given it as much thought as everybody else.. I’ve always just assumed that I would go to university, finish university, somehow find my way into a job that pays well, and I would go on to lead a happy and luxurious lifestyle. It wasn’t until I was surrounded by people who have got their lives planned out from the minute that they finish their degrees, that I realised that maybe you can’t just get a good degree and expect a lifetime of success! With this suddenly stressing me out, I took a break from revision, and jumped on to Google, where I researched a huge number of potential careers and postgraduate courses.. Quite simply, I know exactly what I want to do now, and where I want to do it, and I know the route that I need to take to get there. The only issue I can find with this, is that I need a First Class degree to even apply. Yeah, one of those.
Well, I think with the maximum effort next year, it could most definitely happen! Psychology is one of those subjects that rewards you for the effort that you put in, so with enough library time, I’m almost certain I can do it. “Don’t focus on what other people can or can’t do, focus on what you need to do” is what my family have always told me, alongside the family motto “Huntes don’t lose”, so I will fully embrace that next semester, and hopefully surprise myself.
In other news, I’m half way through my exams! I had Biological Psychology on Monday, which is what I specifically focussed my revision on, because I knew it would be my hardest exam by far, and I had Applied Entomology (Insect Lifestyles & Adaptations.. don’t judge me) yesterday morning.
These were the 2 exams that were giving me the most stress, because there was only 24 hours separating them, and they were easily my most content heavy lectures – but, surprisingly, I left both of the exam rooms with the hugest smile on my face. It is the absolute best feeling to have poured so much time in to something, and just knowing that it paid off! Imagine, I was actually accused of acting like a ‘lonely old man’ last week, for my revision style – which includes turning off all communication devices, locking myself in my room, and not leaving until a full module has been learnt. Apparently the ‘in’ thing to do here, is to revise in groups, and go over all of the material together, discussing topics as necessary.. I applaud the community spirit, but sorry, that’s never going to work for me. My technique may be boring, but it’s incredibly effective. I remember during A Levels people would fill the libraries, then end up spending the day procrastinating, which meant that nobody achieved anything except wasted time.. Okay, I am sounding a bit like a lonely old man, let me stop hating.
I have another 2 exams this week, on Thursday and Friday. I’m half way through the content for each, so I should be cool, but I do see a couple of all-nighters on the cards to get everything sorted; it’s fine, I’m ending the year as I started it!
In one of the comments on my previous blog post, somebody asked whether public transport exists here, and if so, why I spend so much money travelling around in taxis… Well, this is a hard question to answer, because I don’t want to sound too negative, but I know most people share my views, and things are changing, so I’ll answer it truthfully anyway.
Public transport in KL is awesome, as you would expect, but in the areas nearest to the university, let’s just say it isn’t the most efficient way to travel. There’s a train service called the KTM, which has done nothing but disrespect me since I arrived in Malaysia, and I know it’s genuine karma for the amount of times I’ve complained about the London Underground service. What I’ve experienced on public transport in the UK doesn’t even scratch the surface of the madness I’ve endured here, but now I look back, I have some awesome dinner party stories to tell.
When I had my job last semester, I embarrassingly ended up having to take one morning off, when the KTM didn’t arrive as usual – with absolutely no given reason, and nobody to ask for updates. I was literally sat on the platform, for 2 hours, waiting for this train, with a good few hundred people surrounding me – and then it casually rolled into the station, and nobody batted an eyelid! If you’re thinking this was just my bad luck, think again, almost everybody has had at least one KTM experience like this.
Tickets for these trains cost just a few ringgit (around RM3 / 60p to most locations), but if you’re attempting to get to somewhere important for a specific time, I really would recommend finding an alternative method of transport. The journey from UNMC to the KTM train station, Kajang, takes an hour using the free shuttle buses, then the train from Kajang to KL takes around 45minutes, and from here you take one of the city monorails to wherever you want to go in KL.
The KTM service is currently being upgraded with new high-speed trains, which are obviously much nicer than the current run down carriages, but they still get RIDICULOUSLY overcrowded – an issue which I will not discuss here, because this review is already negative enough! Regardless, UNMC may soon be introducing shuttle buses straight from campus to a station close to KL, which would completely eliminate our need to take the KTM! Watch this space for more info.
From Kajang, you could also take a public bus into KL, which again are very cheap, but these are even more hilarious than the trains, as there is no guaranteed time for them to arrive at any bus stop; there’s just a service starting and finishing time. In London, I, like many, stress when a bus is late, cursing at the fact that I’ll have to stand around and waste another 10 minutes – so my patience for public transport is a lot shorter than most people’s here.. I don’t actually know of anyone taking the bus into KL from Kajang, but I took it back once, just to try it out, and it took nearly 3 hours (!!!), but that was in insane traffic (which isn’t uncommon at all).
All of this public transport drama can be avoided by taking a taxi straight from UNMC into the city, for a fixed price of RM60 / £12. This takes about an hour, and you can even share the price with your friends, should they wish to make the journey with you. It’s without doubt the best method of transportation for first years, but most people get their own cars by Year 2.
Well, that’s all for now! I need to get back to my revision, so will see you all later this week for an update live from London, and details of my summer plans! As usual, leave any comments, questions & suggestions below.