September 18, 2012, by Ben Hunte
Back to the Jungle: Part 1 (Summer Update)
I hope everyone had an amazing “1Malaysia Day” holiday!
Firstly, I would like to send a shout-out to everybody who read my blog over the summer break, and especially to those who were either more interested in coming to UNMC as a result of it, OR actually submitted an application and will be seeing me next week. To all of you I say thank you so much, and I hope you continue to find my ramblings informative, entertaining and a necessary part of your weekly web browsing!
With that being said, my journey through Year 2 at the University of Nottingham – Malaysia Campus has begun.
Who am I?
If you’re new to my blog and wondering who I am, my name is Ben Hunte – aka “Mr Nottingham: Malaysia” (yes, I’m milking my title for all it’s worth).
When I’m not in Asia, I live in Woodford Green in London, UK, which is literally around the corner from where the London Olympics were held.
I study BSc Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience, and I’m going into my second year at UNMC. I’m on a full-scholarship here (with a stipend), which is funded by the University of Nottingham, and my aim whilst at the uni is to give you an insight into all that can be done at this amazing place.
I was given my blog at the end of last semester, and after the busiest summer of my life, I’m back in Malaysia early to tell you all about it, and to do so before my lectures, travel plans, and deadlines begin.
This summer could be called the summer of all summers. It was filled to the brim with everything I and my partner, Nick, wanted to do SLASH had the time and money to do! Here’s a recap of all of that good stuff.
Nick and I went to New York a week after I got back from Malaysia, which, through the constant travelling and changing climates saw me suffer some of the maddest jet-lag and the worst cold I’ve ever experienced, but it was an absolutely awesome trip. We saw a Broadway show every night, met up with our NY-based friends, who took us everywhere from the Statue of Liberty to the Bronx, and I managed to get last minute tickets to the 9/11 Memorial, which was insanely emotional, but something I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. We then jumped on a flight from NY to Orlando, Florida, to meet up with my parents at their apartment. Cue 2 weeks of daily theme park trips, family loving, lounging by the pool, eating way too much and spending way too much, but it’s fine, we were on holiday y’all!
Many people will remember the summer of 2012 for the rest of their lives for one reason: the London Olympics. Whilst this fabulous sporting extravaganza opened our hearts to some of the finest athletes the world has ever seen, it also closed my local shopping centre car park for the whole of summer, and transformed the London morning and evening rush hours into Olympic marathons in their own right. I’ve worked in Central London since I was legal to work, starting in McDonald’s (I was the ‘Drive Thru King’ and I loved it), eventually leading to employment with John Lewis, the Science Museum, London Dungeons, Apple, TGI Friday’s and my favourite – Harrods. I really did get around.
As much as I would have loved to work in London this year, I just couldn’t do it to myself! So I jumped ship and moved further south, with Nick, into his stunning university house in Chichester, West Sussex, and I essentially had a taster of what it would be like to move into my own house with my university friends a few months later. As you can see from that photo to the left, cleaning was not a highlight of the ‘independent experience’.. not that I lifted a finger in that house, mind you.
I’ve wanted to work in a hotel for ages. I love travelling, and I’ve always been excited to find out what really goes on behind those ‘Staff Only’ doors.. especially since reading Hotel Babylon. As I promised my family that this would be the last Summer I worked a retail/customer service role, in favour of doing more career-focussed internships, I set out to work for my favourite hotel chain, the Marriott. Long story short, I got a position at the nearest Marriott hotel, and worked some absolutely insane hours within their Room Service department, but it was one of the best working experiences I’ve had. I was able to network with guests who worked for computer companies, energy suppliers, investment banks, and other organisations, who were more than happy to share their experiences and talk to me about graduate opportunities within their industries.. who knew Psychology graduates were so sought after! Interestingly, I usually didn’t start these conversations, instead it was guests asking the “Are you a student?” question, followed by my “Yes, I’m at university in Malaysia,” which kicked-off everything.
Other highlights of my few months at home were catching up with my friends, although almost every lunch/dinner date required rescheduling at least once because we were all so busy; spending as much quality time with my family and Nick’s family as possible, and making the most of London performing arts, as I had serious withdrawal symptoms from seeing no theatre here last year. I also managed to begin exploring the UK, which I need to continue ASAP! It’s weird to think that I’ll soon be telling interviewers how well-travelled I am, and sharing tales from my Asian exploration.. yet if they ask me about visiting any UK cities outside of London I’ll have to stay silent; this must change.
The photo above illustrates our trip to Leeds, and the longness of the Megabus journey we took to get there. It may have only cost us £3 each way (BARGAIN!), but those 5 hours in an aircon-less bus really did make it feel like a £3 journey. Never again.
.. and finally.
Ben’s Moment of the Week:
It would be quite insulting to not make it ‘being back in Malaysia’ so that’s what it is! I was so glad to come back early, because the UK was literally ruining the hard work I’d put into making as much money as possible over the summer. At home, petrol alone was costing me at least £30/RM150 a week, and the price of food made me want to stop eating altogether. If only I was joking.
People always say the cost of living in Asia is cheaper than almost anywhere else, but it’s only after spending my own hard earned money this summer, and living away from my parents in the UK, that I can really appreciate the difference. For example, a few weeks ago I had a meal at TGI Friday’s in Covent Garden, London, and spent a reasonable £60 on a three-course meal for 2.. I just ordered the exact same food & drinks at a TGI here and the bill came to RM105 = £21. ENOUGH SAID.
In the interest of giving your eyes a break, I’ll update you all again on Thursday, with all of the happenings of this past week in Malaysia. I’m still shocked that there’s been so much change, drama, and hilarity in only 10 days of being here, but it shows that I’m definitely in the right place for me!