May 1, 2012, by Ben Hunte

New People, New Experiences, & a New Home

Happy May Day, from Malaysia!

It’s been a pretty hectic week in the jungle, so let’s get started.

As a result of my blog post last week, I was asked by one of the teachers at my old college to record a video for her students, about what I’m currently up to – and how my A Level in Drama & Theatre Studies has helped me.

Being given the opportunity to share my experiences meant so much to me, because I owe an awful lot to that school, and to that course. I truly found myself through being able to to create, lead, and perform on a daily basis, and the things that I learned over those two years will definitely go with me through life. Highams Park School, and especially the Performing Arts department, you are amazing, and I will never stop singing your praises! (The Q&A video is currently private, sorry!)

I’d also like to say hello to all of the new UNMC-ers, coming in as the April Intake students. It’s so weird seeing people on campus that I haven’t seen before… One of the things I love about UNMC is the smallness of the student community, it’s like a very diverse fraternity. Yes, at times it can be annoying, because you’ll say one thing to one person, and 10minutes later everybody seems to know it, but it feels like a family. Eventhough I haven’t studied at the UK Campus, my friends there have told me how you can casually meet somebody once, and never see them again, because there are that many students! Sure that suits some people, and it’s probably easier at those times when you really don’t want anybody to notice you (like when you’ve just finished an all-nighter, and have to do the walk of shame back to your room, looking dirty, absolutely mashed, and probably smelling horrendous); but for me – I love that I recognise almost every single person I bump into, and can have a conversation with most of them, whilst at least flashing a teethy grin to the rest. With a big friendly personality, it’s easy to make a lasting impression on our small uni community, and I can’t wait to see how the April Intake, July Intake, and the huge September Intake, embrace this, and enhance our student experience!

… and that brings us to:

Ben’s Moment of the Week!

This has been a wicked week for 2 reasons.


Everybody always asks me: “Why do you go to Penang so much, Ben?!”
Well, in short, Penang now gives me what Central London’s given me throughout my life.

Jumping on the tube from Woodford Station to Oxford Circus Station, I would feel a certain buzz, as if I was escaping everything and on my way to somewhere magical… I wish I still got that feeling, but those astronomical tube fares have seriously killed the dream.

When I discovered Penang at the beginning of this year, the beaches, the people, the life – I knew that it would be a long and prosperous relationship.
As I book my coach ticket from KL to Penang (which costs around £6), and print it off in the library, I genuinely can’t control the grin on my face, and my walk back to my room mirrors that of Charlie Bucket’s, after he finds his golden ticket.

I do have a confession to make though… I am probably in line to win the ‘worst backpacker ever’ award. Yes, I have the obligatory 6 foot backpack, yes, I rock those fake raybans regardless of the time of day, but no, I do not stay in hostels. I REFUSE! My recent stays include the Shangri-La, Traders Hotel, and Holiday Inn, darling.

It’s not that I don’t get along with dirt and cockroaches, well it is – but I can deal with them if I have to, I’ve just always dreamed of embracing a glamourous hotel lifestyle, and in Asia I can! Averaging RM350/£70 a night, a 5* hotel stay in Malaysia is half the price of the (probably) 0* hotel in my home town. ABSOLUTE BARGAIN! Eiman & I have received so much prejudice from hotel staff, concerning the likeliness of our stays being legitimate.. But don’t worry, plenty of letters of complaint have been written, whilst I’ve been wrapped in my soft dressing gown and slippers, lying on my crisp egyptian cotton sheets, with my complimentary fruit basket beside me, and HBO on the wall-mounted 40” TV – obviously.

So, what happened in Penang last weekend? Not much really, it was a pretty chilled trip. Oh, and Eiman nearly drowned. Fair enough the waves were 10 feet tall, probably the aftermath from the earthquake/tsunami last week, and yes, I was the only person mad enough to even be near the sea – let alone swimming in it, and I guess it was all my fault. When I go to the beach, I expect to be able to swim! No crazy waves were going to stop me.

Anyway, I tempted Eiman into the water, but her entry-timing was not as well practiced as mine.. one second she was standing there, making her way in, then as a huge wave crashed onto the sand, she quite simply disappeared. Whilst I was cracking up, trying to keep afloat, Eiman was getting washed away, screaming my name – UTTERLY HILARIOUS. She’s all good now, but I think she’s developed a fear of the sea.

One more thing, I’ve visited Penang five times now, and I still don’t understand why it’s called the food capital of Malaysia! I’ve been to Georgetown, Gurney Drive, and Batu Ferrenghi, and I’m yet to taste anything special enough to send a postcard home about. Feel free to leave a suggestion down below of where I need to go to experience what everybody hypes up, because until then, I’ll be making do with the TGI Fridays in the city centre.

Mission: House Hunt – COMPLETE.

The other major news is that through hours of walking up and down jungle paths in 40º heat, calling a million numbers, and seeing a load of rooms that not even a family of rats would be happy to inhabit, my group has finally got a house sorted for next year!!! It is an absolute beauty.

Aptly named “Beimabehaiza” (Bee-Ma-Bay-Hi-Za, a combo of all of our names), our house is a few minutes walk from the bridge that connects the student housing area (TTS) to UNMC, and it’s conveniently located next to the uni shuttle-bus stop, for those lazy morning moments. When I walked into the house for the first time, on my own – because all three of my future housemates overslept, it just felt right; there are windows everywhere, letting in a beautiful amount of light, it’s spacious, my room is literally like a bachelor pad, and it’s brand spanking new, so blessed with sparkling facilities. For only RM2600/£420 a month, for the whole house (..I KNOW!!!), with my western ideologies, it was the absolute steal of the century. Oh, and the owner’s allowing us to get a dog, so my dreams of owning a British Bulldog may be realised shortly!

…and that’s my week. I’ll see you next week for another update, but hopefully I won’t have too much to say – because I would have locked down my social life all week and revised madly.. but we’ll see.
Leave any comments, questions & suggestions below 😀


Ben Hunte

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