February 24, 2013, by Ben Hunte
Melaka Moments, Mr & Miss Notts, Adulthood Arrives, & What UNMC Has Taught Me!
Where am I now?
This weekend, Eiman and I decided to visit a place which, in all honesty, neither of us ever really wanted to visit, but felt compelled to by our student visas.
After what can only be described as the bus ride FROM HELL, which saw our bus driver hit some serious Formula 1 speeds, whilst carelessly darting our coach around tiny unfenced roads – taking us high into the mountains, we arrived in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.
I’m laughing as I type this, because I really have never experienced anything so ridiculous in my life! The driver felt the need to accelerate at every single opportunity, then slam on the breaks just before we plummeted into the jungle thousands of metres below. Em was fear-gripping my right leg with such tremendous force throughout the journey, that I don’t think it’ll ever feel the same again. Thankfully, I managed to pass out, probably through fear, but woke up just as the bus jolted forward and we were staring over the edge of a cliff. There are simply no words.
More on that fun next week though! It’ll be an interesting one, because we’ve been strawberry picking, visited a tea plantation, taken photos of pretty flowers, and I was even given freebies from Starbucks for being “customer of the day,” so it’s been a very enjoyable weekend break!
Em’s 21st Birthday, in Melaka
After the amazing 21st birthday celebration which Eiman gave me, it was finally time for me to return the favour. In all honesty, I hadn’t even planned to fly back to Malaysia until probably today, so once I’d got a job and got a cold and bounced out of London, I found myself with 3 days to plan her birthday before the big day arrived.
All I can say is that women are too hard to buy gifts for. I devoted a day to going and buying her an amazing present, but found myself giving up after only an hour of being in the mall; there’s just too much choice! At least with men, if you want to buy us something, our clothes are simply in S/M/L – and it’s easy to guess which would fit, and you’ll have a rough idea of what we’d like, because we’re usually open about it. With women, well, you know the story; it was just an impossible task.
So rather than embarrass myself and ruin our friendship, I decided to book a fancy spa-break in Melaka (a place we’ve been to so many times that it wouldn’t be shameless to just go there and not leave the hotel), reserve us a table in a nice restaurant, and in the process reach my daily bank limit, twice.
It was so worth it though! Em is like the rock of my international student life (we all need one); we’re pretty much inseparable, and rely on each other 24/7, so to not go above and beyond the call of duty on her big day would’ve put me straight into the doghouse.
I have to say though, if any Melaka hotel managers are reading this, can you ALL please do something about the temperature of your outdoor pools. I don’t know what’s going on, but in all of the hotels we’ve stayed in within the city, the pool temperatures have all been close to frozen conditions, and literally impossible to enjoy. In a country where the coldest it gets is 30degrees, and cold breezes do not exist, the shock one can get from jumping into said pools is enough to require resuscitation. Not impressed; everything else has always been fabulous though!
Mr & Miss Nottingham 2013 – Auditions
The divas have been nominated, the claws have already come out in auditions, and the journey towards finding Mr & Miss Nottingham 2013 has begun!
After winning the title last year, I’ve been asked to MC the event this year, and lend the SA a hand in selecting and training the participants. The competition, also being referred to as “The Face of Nottingham” is one of the most attended events on campus, if not THE most attended event, and after last year it’s clear that if you stand out on the night (for good or bad), your performance will be remembered for a long time to come…
For me, this competition meant a lot; it proved to me that I’d been accepted. As a rather loud and let’s say ‘unusual’ individual, I was really worried about how I’d be accepted in Malaysia before I arrived, and people were constantly telling me how I needed to act here to prevent deportation, but clearly I had nothing to stress about.
As I said last week, in a time when graduates are finding it hard to differentiate themselves from other eager students, a title like “Mr/Miss Nottingham” reads volumes about your confidence, personality and ability to get along with people, and really would give you that edge. In all of my interviews over the past few weeks, every single one of my individual interviewers tried to create some sort of banter around me being “Mr Nottingham 2012” (actually, one of them later caught me completely off-guard by proclaiming “roll out the red carpet, it’s Mr Nottingham!” as I walked into a networking lunch.. I instinctively gave the assessors a royal-wave, everybody cracked up, and yes, they offered me a job).
What I’m saying is, yes it’s a pageant, yes it’s a bit of fun, but the title is still an insanely amazing credit to its holder.
All UNMC students were able to nominate either themselves or somebody else, and by the time the deadline was reached, 27 guys and 32 girls had been nominated. Each of them was then invited to a three minute audition on Thursday, which was filled with quick-fire questions from a panel, to test their confidence and their ability to make things up on the spot (there’s nothing worse than awkward silence on a stage..).
The students that got put through to the final 12 are a mix of those who are known by the vast majority of UNMC students (READ: popular), and those who have an amazing talent which needs to be shared with the student-community, because the event still needs to be entertaining.
It’s going to be an exciting race, and I’ll be keeping you all updated via here and Ignite (www.unmcignite.com).
The Arrival of Adulthood
There was once a time when I’d go to a job interview knowing that after a few months, I’d probably be interviewing for somewhere else. I had this master plan where I wanted to work for the best retailer in London, and thought that bouncing around companies, climbing up the employment ladder was the best way to do it..
Well it was, because, for those interested, Harrods really is without doubt the best retailer in London, and easily the best job I could’ve had at 18. Anyway I digress, once given a job, I’d be sent my contract and employment documents, and the booklet talking about ‘pensions’ used to be completely ignored, because I knew that as a teenager, it was basically irrelevant to me..
NOT ANYMORE! I spent a good few hours this week studying the pension plans that my grad employer is offering to me, and having met the majority of the department I’m joining during interviews and networking events, I know that most of my coworkers themselves were given a place on the Graduate Scheme, and are still with the company 20 years later, so decisions like this are pretty important.
I’ve also been requested by the company to create a “LinkedIn” profile, and use it to start networking with my coworkers. It’s such an exciting prospect, but disgustingly daunting, to know that adult life really is starting soon. The other scary thing is that getting this job is essentially what all of those years of education, exams, and crazy stress were for…… I KNOW. Bring on the mortgage and baby bottles.
Top 5 Things UNMC/Malaysia Has Taught Me
Over the Christmas break, whilst I should’ve been revising – but wasn’t, my Facebook inbox was filled with questions by prospective students about UNMC student life. One question which came up a few times was “What has studying in Malaysia/UNMC taught you?” In short, a ridiculous amount.
1. How sociable I am…
I always felt sociable at school, but after many years of being with the same people, it’s hard to judge whether or not you’re actually a sociable person, because everyone speaks to everyone.. Well, UNMC proved to me that not only am I an incredibly sociable person, but I have a huge need to speak to people almost 24/7, and absolutely hate being on my own.
It’s not that I can’t survive on my own, I can, but UNMC has such a small community that after being on campus for a few hours, and talking to a ridiculous amount of people, having my phone constantly buzz with personal/uni/Ignite stuff, attending meetings, running events etc etc etc, I find it hard to go back to my room and turn off that social-side. I guess it’s the same feeling you get after you’ve been to a concert, and you’re still buzzing when it’s over. I think this really annoys my friends at home, because most of them don’t have much to do at uni apart from go to lectures and practice a sport or two, so my daily updates can see me talking for a long long time, whilst for them, nothing’s really happened..
2. If you want something done, do it yourself…
Please believe me when I say, I don’t mean this in a negative way at all. Whenever I’ve run events or created organisations at home, I’ve always been careful to not delegate too many tasks to other people, because if they don’t pull through – drama occurs. At UNMC, I think a lot of people learn this, but too late.
It’s very nice to have a team of 40 people doing things, but through my time being here I’ve seen that at the beginning of the year people take on all of these responsibilities, then over time, lose interest and disappear.. What this means is that by the end of Semester 1, or at the start of Semester 2, events that were promised don’t happen, because the teams essentially no longer exist. So, I have literally learnt that if I want something done here, I need to do it myself, but I’m guessing that’s a very important lesson in the adult world (especially in the business sector), so I’m glad I’ve experienced it.
3. The importance of lectures…
I’m quite ashamed to admit this, but this past week was actually the first week that I’ve attended all of my lectures, since the beginning of first year. In the UK campus you can probably get away with this, but here, it’s almost impossible because, at least in Psychology, our lecturers know us on an individual basis and our lectures are seminar-sized, so if you’re not in attendance – everybody knows you’re not in attendance.
I probably attended about 0.1% of my lectures last semester, so when it came to revising/learning my course content for Jan exams, I found myself with about 300 powerpoint presentations to go over! Obviously there was no way I had the mental capacity to do that, and especially not over Christmas after I’d been away from home for 3 months. I’m now learning that through going to lectures, and just listening, when I look back over the presentation, I can actually remember some quite detailed information! Okay, it took me a year and a half to learn this, but at least I know now. My aim is to hit 100% attendance in lectures this semester, and I’m on course so far, so bring on the 1:1 in summer exams!
4. Home sickness affects us all (and it creeps up on you at the most random times)…
I remember back in the day when we used to go on school trips, and some people would be crying their eyes out, screaming and wailing, about leaving their parents for a week or two.. and then there I was, one hug, one “BYE!” and I was ready to go. I have literally never been affected by home sickness, because I love travelling that much, but let me tell you something nobody knows…
Only occasionally, and I really do mean every once in almost never – when I’m ridiculously tired and rundown, I will get hit by this tidal wave of sadness, and it literally comes from absolutely nowhere! For a few minutes, I can’t stop crying (my Raybans suddenly act as shame-savers, if I’m in public), and I’ll drop to my knees, and create all of that drama.. but then, I’ll start cracking up about being such a diva and I’m fine! My last one of these was on Thursday; I was walking past the fountain on campus, watching the mist diffuse through the air, whilst “Ready or Not – Fugees” blared into my ears, and BOOM the tears began. So yes, UNMC has taught me that even if you think homesickness won’t ever affect you, once every few months, be prepared with those Kleenex.
5. My love for travelling, hotels, networking, and the general global travel experience…
Now I’ve tasted the global experience, I will never let it go – that is, until my partner tells me to sit down and we have the “let’s start a family” conversation.
I just can’t imagine not being able to travel to different countries; staying locked down in one place really does scare me.. I’m fortunate in that the graduate offer I’ve accepted involves global placements, in all corners of the world, so I don’t have to give up the travelling fun just yet. Pass me the airport lounge networking, the business class flights, the Skype calls home, the resulting home sickness, and above all, the opportunity to see more of the world! I can’t wait.
Aaaand that’s all for this week! I’ll see you next week for my Cameron Highlands review, and any hilarity that throws itself at me before next Sunday.
Ben Henry Hunte