February 6, 2013, by Ben Hunte
A New Year Begins, Say Hello To IGNITE, & Other Overdue Updates!
It’s February 2013, and I’m back.. but not back in the jungle, yet.
Where have I been and where am I now? Well the first question will be explained over the course of this ridiculously long update, but I promised to continue my weekly updates from February 2013, so it’s fine. As for the second question, I’m actually on my way back to London, currently waiting in a first class lounge in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which I have no reason to be in apart from being nice to the check-in staff this morning.
In the interest of protecting my good name, let it be known that I didn’t just give up my love of writing, end my blog in October, move on to fulfilling another passion, and desert you all… Oh no, I started a student news website, as you will soon find out, and my life was forever transformed into that of Vogue’s Anna Wintour’s. I’m now overseeing a media empire, with editors, writers, photographers, sponsors, and 5,000 visitors a week, which over the past few months seemed to be taking way too much effort, but now I can see that it was all completely worth it. As I said, I’ll explain everything in detail.
So, it’s time for the weekly fun to begin again, and believe me, it’s going to be an amazing semester.
Turning 21 in Malaysia
When I first took my scholarship in Malaysia, one of the biggest fears for me was “what if I make no friends and end up celebrating my birthday, alone, crying over a cake and singing to myself?” It just so happens that in my year of being here, I’ve made around 5,000 friends (and now have potential holiday homes in nearly every country in the world), so when it came to celebrating the big one, my 21st birthday, I had no worries that it would be good. In short, it was amazing.
Thanks to my best friend, Ignite’s Managing Editor, and my university wife, Eiman, I had the best birthday ever, and I doubt her bank balance will ever be the same again. When she asked me a few weeks before my birthday what gifts I’d like, I jokingly dropped a comment about how a 5* weekend get away, a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon champagne, a Waitrose gift basket fresh from the UK, and a trip to Harrods for afternoon tea may just scratch the surface of an acceptable birthday gift. Okay, so I didn’t get a return ticket to Harrods – London for the afternoon tea, and instead had to make do with the Harrods in KLCC – Malaysia, but I’ll let her off, because she got me EVERYTHING ELSE.
I spent the weekend before my birthday at a David Guetta concert, which was such a let down that I won’t say any more about it (just know that I learnt the full “Commander” dance routine, just for Guetta to not even play any of his old songs) and I also visited a Malaysian Psychology conference, which was an eye-opening experience.. As for the weekend of my birthday, Em and I jumped to the Renaissance Hotel, Melaka, and lived it up like celebrities. Oh yes. Spa treatments, lobster dinners, a luxury river cruise, and above all the best birthday of my life, welcoming me into adulthood. With all of my jealousy-inducing updates, I’m sure you’re all looking for a bit of schadenfreude, so I’m happy to report that the hotel swimming pool was blessed by the Arctic itself, and my love for a quick dip couldn’t be satisfied at all… But I still had an awesome time in my executive suite!
And now we move onto the saddest news I have to report from the past few months. What initially began as the house from heaven, quickly became the house from hell, as drama upon drama hit our beautiful jungle mansion. In all honesty though, I learnt so much about myself and other people as a result of the past few months turning so sour, and I appreciate all of the life experiences I can get my hands on, so it’s fine; everything really does happen for a reason.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, our first ex-housemate suddenly decided over last summer that studying in Malaysia was not what he wanted, and he actually craved USA college life… I do get it, I went through a good few years of only wanting to attend New York University, but the minute they stopped offering their full scholarships I knew that the dream had to end. Anyway, I wish him all the best.
As for ex-housemate number 2, I love her for her wildness and stubbornness and general insanity, but to live with, it just couldn’t be done. By the end of October, we had all had enough of the house mess and the non-stop parties, which only a few months ago, I would have been looking forward to! But you can all learn from this too; when choosing housemates, don’t necessarily choose your best friends, choose those who you think you can actually live with, because trust me, they are sometimes completely different people.
As for ex-housemate number 3, due to a lot of madness happening in his home country right now, their currency has completely crashed, and it looks as though he’s going to have to go back home ASAP. I don’t know enough about his situation or his country’s situation to comment on it, but again, I wish him the best, because his life is one that I will probably never be able to empathise with without seeming disrespectful.
So, now Em too has moved into a room in another house, I’m actively looking for a fancy apartment in Bangsar (pretty much an expat paradise, just outside of Kuala Lumpur, where most of our lecturers live). As I said, I’ve learnt a lot from these past few months, and what I’m taking away from the experience is that I really do appreciate my own company and independence after a whole day of socialising on campus – so now it’s time to trial living on my own!
10 Trips Before 2013 Update
A lot of people have been Facebooking me, asking how I got on with my 10 trips before 2013 challenge.. Well, I did it!
In the interest of not repeating myself and boring you this semester, I won’t tell you where I ended up visiting at the end of last year, because no doubt I’ll be going back to everywhere over the next 10 weeks, BUT the place I’m most looking forward to hitting this year is Australia. I cannot wait; I can’t believe I’ve gone through 21 years of life without ever seeing a kuala bear, attempting to surf, or visiting the Great Barrier Reef – this must be rectified ASAP.
Say hello to IGNITE! www.unmcignite.com
I am so excited to tell you all about my baby. May I introduce you to “IGNITE”, the online hub of UNMC. What initially started as me wanting to start a little student magazine for UNMC and make it ‘fabulous’, became a challenge so great that I probably spent more time on it than I will on the final year project for my degree.
After endless meetings, sleepless nights, team interviews, and the editing of 100 articles to launch the website, Ignite was born on 12th November 2012, and has since had more than 50,000 visits. This venture was so great that skills I didn’t even know that I had got put to use, just so I didn’t have to wait and rely on other people… I was creating posters on Photoshop, which I hadn’t used since I worked for Apple back in 2010; I was editing articles and throwing them together as if I actually had any journalism experience at all; and above all, I was putting on this brave face in interviews, and talking with confidence in team meetings, when all I actually had was a crazy idea for a news website and lots of time and energy to invest into it.
I’m one of those people who has to perfect things before they can move on, but this challenge pushed me to my absolute limits of sanity because there were some things which I just had no control over – like whether people would actually access the website! It was a scary time, but it all worked out for the best! I’d actually like to say thank you to Eiman, again, because without her as my Managing Editor, I would have given up and jumped on a flight to the UK denouncing any duties I’d taken up to do with Student Media. Also, my team of editors from all corners of the world are so committed and amazing, that I know things can only get better! The aim of Ignite is to ‘lighten up UNMC’ and we have definitely already achieved that; the website is a default page on the university computers, so no matter how hard people try to get away from us, they can’t! Love it.
We actually launched a UNMC MasterChef challenge in December 2012, which involved students sending in a photo of the best meal they could make, and voting is about to begin to find the Top 5 who will move through to our live rounds.. I’ll put the link up in my next entry later this week, so you can all get involved!
[EDIT]: HERE IT IS! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.408176325943332.93786.173205832773717&type=1
January Exams at the UK Campus
After two years of studying at Nottingham (albeit it outside of the home campus), I finally made it to the UK Campus, and I’m happy to announce that we’ve got it better in the jungle; sorry guys. I was actually there to sit my January exams, because I had quite a few graduate scheme interviews scattered throughout January (and indeed February – more on that in a minute), so the UK campus was kind enough to let me take my exams in my home country, rather than make me fly to Malaysia for exam week, then fly back to the UK for interviews, and jump back to Malaysia soon after for Semester 2.
Highlights of my UK Campus experience would be the amazing snow we had (which became a curse once I discovered that the students I’m staying with refuse to utilise their heating, and hence my body hasn’t felt warmth since the day I left Malaysia), seeing so many of my friends there – those on semester exchanges from UNMC and also those who went to my secondary school & sixth form, and SEEING THE SIZE OF THE CAMPUS! Goodness me, the campus is ridiculously huge. Infact, after studying at the Malaysia Campus, being in such a huge place with its vast number of students is quite scary. Walking through campus and nobody saying hello to me, or running up to me to give me a hug, or telling me about “breaking uni news that needs to be Ignited” was both weird and unsettling.. I really do prefer studying in the sun, with our 5,000 students, and ridiculously close student community! It’s just a beautiful experience that I can now appreciate, knowing that I wouldn’t have fitted in elsewhere.
As for the exams, well, my tutor will be pleased to hear that my degree in Beach Studies has now ended, and I’m ready to commit to Psychology, so hopefully I will do better in Summer than I did this semester! It has been hard to find the balance between extra curricular activities and attending lectures, but my eyes have truly been opened to hard exams, and I’ve been given the jump-start I needed.
Graduate Scheme Interviews.. & Life Realisations
Let me tell you about all of the fun I’m having trying to secure a graduate job in the corporate world. It is so hard. I know people say that the job market for UK graduates is saturated, but SERIOUSLY, nobody warned me that it would be this hard!
I’m very fortunate in that I’ve had a lot of extracurricular experiences, and held quite a few leadership positions, as well as obviously holding my scholarship in Asia, so I have a lot of unique reasons as to why I should be chosen over a fellow undergraduate.. However, it’s still tough. At present I’ve had an interview with the world’s largest credit card company, I have an interview tomorrow with the largest global supplier of civil aerospace parts, then over the next week I have three interviews with investment banks in London.
I don’t usually get nervous for job interviews because I see them as an exciting challenge, but for these, I’m feeling some serious butterflies. I’ve had to grow up so much over the past few months, whilst I’ve been having telephone interviews and doing verbal/non-verbal/logical reasoning tests, and I’ve really evaluated what I want from life, and where I want to work, and put some graduate plans into place, because I refuse to graduate from uni and not start working immediately. From always thinking I’d be aiming for a job within psychology and be fighting for a place to do my masters and PhD in order to change the mental health world, I’m now in assessment centres with other undergraduate candidates, pleading for opportunities to work a small role within these global organisations… How time has changed me.
Serious congratulations are due if you read all of that to get to this end point! This entry was long, but so worth it, because now you’re all on the same page as me.
I’ll see you next week, to tell you about my graduate interviews, my Amsterdam visit, and any other fun and games I come across.
Ben Henry Hunte