October 17, 2012, by Ben Hunte

10 Trips By 2013, Freshers’ Week Madness, & Building a Media Empire

As much as I need to apologise for not posting last week, I want you all to know that it wasn’t my fault!
One of the joys of living in a house with 3 other people is that we all share the same internet connection, and as a result, we all have to be aware of each other’s usage in order to not go over our 12GB limit per month (trust me, we didn’t want such a ridiculously limited package, but it’s all we could get in our area).. As of October 26th, we would have had this package for one month, and as of last week, ‘we’ had already depleted our allowance. I’ve put ‘we’ in inverted commas, because my Macbook has informed me that I only used 300mb of the 12GB internet allowance since the broadband got installed (..I KNOW!!).
Anyway, I’m currently sat in one of the uni computer rooms, hence my ability to now update you all.
Let’s do this.

“10 Weekend Breaks by 2013” – Trip #1:

Where was the photo I posted two weeks ago taken? ..PENANG! As I said, Em & I needed a spot of relaxation in the form of cleanliness and beach time, so the Friday before last saw us jump onto one of the bus company websites and book tickets for the first bus out of KL. The first bus was a Transnasional bus heading to Penang, which was beautifully convenient seeing as Penang is our favourite place in Malaysia (as I walk through Batu Ferrenghi, the beach area, I can hear choruses of “Hello Mr Ben!” from various waiters, shop keepers and taxi drivers that I’ve shared my life-story with over the past year; it’s so sweet).
In all honesty, there was nothing that happened on this trip that was different to the past times I’ve blogged about Penang, so I won’t make you all jealous with talk of the 5* resort, stunning beach, beautiful breakfast in bed, and such.. In fact, the only part of the trip that wasn’t utter perfection was the journey back. We attempted to be cheapskates for once, and forgo a taxi to the bus terminal (RM25/£5), in favour of taking a local bus (RM3.60/£0.72p). Well, karma got us; we were sat at the bus stop for 2 hours before we admitted defeat and jumped in a taxi. I just couldn’t believe that somewhere usually so efficient was so shockingly bad at getting buses to their stops on time! I even had the bus company’s app on my iPhone, which you can use to check the location of every bus.. I still have no idea why there were no buses for us, but I’m over it.

Why Not Travel By Plane?!

In a message from one reader a few weeks ago, I was asked why I only take buses, and don’t use planes, the more convenient and “luxurious” mode of transport around Asia.
The sad truth is that I have a fear of flying short-haul journeys. I think this fear developed as a mixture of flying from KL to Phuket, and back, last year, during a storm rivaling the weather in the film “Twister,” AND from doing one of those sight-seeing flights over the Grand Canyon; it was horrendous. I simply cannot deal with small planes anymore! If it isn’t an Airbus A380 or Boeing 777-ER, I’d rather walk and swim to the destination than fly there.
The other thing is that bus travel in Malaysia is probably more convenient than flying, if you excuse the different journey lengths.. Many bus companies here now have online booking up to 24hours before departure, and you have no baggage restrictions, no check-in time (I have seen late people sprint towards moving buses, bang on the doors, and be let on.. you can’t do that with planes!), no jet-lag, etc. The best thing for me about bus travel is the recline on the seats in this country! For anyone that’s experienced business class flat-bed seats on planes, we have them on buses over here, as standard.

UNMC Freshers’ Week 2012:

Here at the Malaysia Campus, things are done quite differently to the UK campus. One of the most blatant differences between the campuses that immediately hit me last year, was the complete lack of alcohol. Last week, I saw a Facebook status from one of the clubbing venues in Nottingham, UK, boasting how they had sold over 10,000 jaeger bombs during Freshers’ Week 2012 (actually, it may have been more, I can’t remember). It’s not that the students here don’t like to drink (I couldn’t possibly comment on that), but in Malaysia it’s actually illegal to have alcohol on an educational institution’s campus. Not only does this mean that alcohol cannot be served here, but it also means that students can be arrested for possessing it, if it is found anywhere on the campus, including in their accommodation buildings.

Whilst I was skyping some of my friends in the UK, excitedly telling them about our scheduled Freshers’ Week 2012 events, all of them said the same thing “Ben, your Freshers’ Week sounds seriously boring..”
Well, it wasn’t!

Over the course of the week I was the MC for 3 events, the Ice Breaking Night, the Clubbing Night, and the Talent Show, which I also organised.

Ice Breaking Night:
You know when you go to a group interview, or even a meeting, and you have to play those completely embarrassing games to get to know everybody, which at the beginning seem completely unnecessary and cringe-worthy, but by the end you know everyone, so they worked? Yeah, we dedicated an evening to them. We played charades, balloon games, had races, Q&A sessions, etc etc.. What many thought would be a pretty lame night, turned into one of the most hilarious and productive networking sessions I’ve been to. Students who entered the event alone, nervous and shy, left the event in groups, laughing and with huge smiles on their faces. That’s all that matters!

Clubbing Night at Vogue Club, KL:
For me, this night was quite emotional. I arrived at the club ready to dance the night away, but instead, I ended up shouting the night away, as the SECOND I hit the dance floor I was whisked into the DJ booth to hype up the crowd. What I thought would be a quick bit of “UNMC banter” down the microphone, actually ended up with me being sat next to the DJ the whole night, taking requests for songs, and being passed bits of paper telling me what to announce to the crowd. Yes, I was provided with free drinks the whole time, which definitely helped soothe the pain my throat was experiencing by the time we left, however it would have been nice to actually party with everyone rather than just shout at them every now and then. Still, I somehow managed to create a catchy UNMC chant, which is definitely getting used at future campus events; everything happens for a reason.

Talent Show:
As fun as this event was, I learned a valuable lesson from it – it is completely impossible to both organise and MC a show yourself, without some sort of drama occurring. Running around the venue the whole night was way too stressful, and I really needed a whole team of people supporting me, but it was still a beautiful end to a manic week. All of the performers were new students, and they were all absolutely awesome. We had singers, dancers, magicians, a female rapper, a Chinese drum performance, and half time entertainment, courtesy of yours truly. Not only did I get every single person in the audience to do the Macarena before the event started, but I also had everyone dancing and singing along to “YMCA,” or should I say – “It’s fun to study at: U-N-M-C!” Haha you get the idea! Apparently a few people got that hilarious moment on video, so I shall try and hunt down a copy, but for now just enjoy that photo!

House Warming Party:

Unlike the UK, in Malaysia courses begin and end at several points within each year. At UNMC there’s a September intake, a January intake, and a Summer School. As some of our friends at another university here started in January, their year finished in August, so now is essentially their ‘summer break.’ Before they jumped on flights back to the Middle East, we decided to combine a leaving party with a house warming party, hosted at my student house, and wasn’t it a beauty! We had a BBQ, utilising our satay grill that we’d acquired from Tesco for RM10/£2 (WHAT A BARGAIN!!!), a Wii tournament, and ridiculous amounts of duty-free beverages from when we’d all flown into the country, but best of all – a whole mansion to ourselves, with no next-door neighbours to complain about noise. It still makes no sense to me that even with 5 bedrooms, we had no spare beds, blankets or pillows to go around, so some people found themselves wrapped in towels, sleeping on our TV room floor.. Sorry about that y’all.

..and finally.

Ben’s Moment of the Week:

Something truly exciting has happened over the past 2 weeks. Something which, as an avid writer, is like a dream come true. I’ve started a student magazine. Madness. The foundations are set for it to be a decent news website, and now it’s just about branding, getting a good team together, and going all ‘Rupert Murdoch’ on it.

I can’t lie though, publicizing the magazine has been a lot harder than I imagined.. I swear, getting students to ‘like’ the Facebook page has been like asking them to donate their monthly allowances to the magazine, but we’re up to 300 now, so we’re slowly getting there. Hopefully we’ll have the whole team recruited by next week, and be ready for a launch event at the beginning of November (there have been talks of making it a British afternoon-tea gathering, I love this place!). My main aim for the website will be for it to feature a (concentrated) Malaysian news bulletin every day, so that the students who call this country a home, as most of us do, can actually be aware of the current affairs here, rather than live here so ignorantly. It has to happen.

In other news, by the time I post my next update, I’LL BE 21! Just thought I’d chuck that in there.
It’s actually my 21st birthday tomorrow (Thursday 18th October); I literally cannot wait. The OTT celebrations began at the weekend, with a surprise birthday dinner in our hotel, and they are continuing throughout this week – but you’ll have to wait until next Friday to hear about all of that good stuff!

Well, that’s all for this week!


Ben Hunte

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