Always Darkest Before the Dawn (Internship Day Fifteen to Seventeen)


Internship Day Fifteen- 13/12, Tuesday

Monday was an off day for us from the first and second batch but the third batch, the Form 5 Starstruckers and Eibhlin still had to go to work (and they got to interview the author of Beautiful Creatures, Margaret Stohl! How is that fair!). The third batch consists of Amanda Ng, Ellora Chua, Ann-Marie Khor, Kyle Chan, Cheng Ju Mei, June Lee and Eibhlin Lim.

That morning, I saw Ann-Marie, Ju Mei, June and Eibhlin for the first time and that “OMG YOU GUYS ARE REAL PEOPLE AND NOT JUST FACEBOOK PROFILES” feeling returned. At around 11 AM, Anne made a sudden announcement that there would be a trip to Dewan Negara/Parliament that morning, but since me and most of the other interns weren’t in suitable attires for the Parliament, only Paik Suan, June and Eibhlin were granted permission to enter the building.

Minus the three of them, the 11 of us had lunch together at the cafeteria where we told them about our experiences so far and pretty much just laughed and joked around like old friends who hadn’t seen each other for years (well for some of them, it’s six months).

Then, we also found out astounding news about us from a very nice and professional senior journalist. Thank you, man, seriously.

Ellora, Kyle, June, Paik Suan and I were in Features that week, but since Kyle, June and Paik Suan made the first trip to the Parliament, Sharmilla (one of the editors at Features) gave Ellora and I an assignment to sort out entries for a book survey they did in The Star.

When June, Paik Suan and Eibhlin returned, Anne and Jeannette held a brief meeting at Level 3 and basic words simply cannot describe the laughfest and chaos that happened. Put 14 rambunctious teenagers with high sugar levels into one room and this is what you get:!/ss_kyle/status/146500305243209730

The day pretty much went on like that, as we crazy interns, previously power of four now boosted to power of fourteen, etched our marks at Level 3A of Menara Star by being the high-spirited and energetic kids we are.

Ann-Marie, Min Hui, Amanda, Amelia and a herpderp yours truly. Taken by Ju Mei.

Internship Day Sixteen- 14/12, Wednesday

On that day, the remaining 10 of us (Amelia couldn’t turn up) got the chance to enter Parliament. It was a 10-minute ride there, and when we reached the building, we found out we had to hand over all electronic devices to security and leave all bags in a lockers (seriously) then only were we allowed to enter.

Min Hui was a “model” doing “catwalks” that day because she’d borrowed stilettos from Jeannette and had difficulty walking in them (“My feet are in pain,” said 16-year-old Lee Min Hui who, at a point, even took off her heels to run across a corridor to catch up with the others).

In the Parliament room, the “debate” that was going on while we entered was concerning the usage of BM in Malaysia and how English is overriding our national language even on road signs, billboards etc when the irony of it all was right in front of their faces– the clock on both sides of the room walls showed “11.57 AM, Wed, Dec”.

After that, it was a no-go for our attention spans and we found ourselves starting to fidget and whisper and pass notes and occasionally when my conscience kicked in guiltily, I would stop to focus on the speaker but realised it was the same ol’ nonsense they’ve been spewing for years, so I proceeded to tune them out and resume my fidgeting and whispering and passing of notes.

We left early because it was getting unbearable in there. Amanda, Ann-Marie and Min Hui left in a cab to continue their next assignment whereas the rest of us returned to Menara Star by the same van. Nothing much happened that day, but I managed to finish Sharmilla’s assignment as well as half of my personal story before going home.

That night, Paik Suan just had to remind me of the time we have left (five days) by posting this picture on Facebook:

Photo (c) Paik Suan.

Internship Day Seventeen- 15/12, Thursday

Today officially marks the last day of my internship, along with Paik Suan, Min Hui, Claire and Vincent because for the next four days, we’ll be joining a Young News Network camp in Pahang. Tomorrow’s the first day but we’ll only be leaving for 8 Acres (a campsite somewhere in the forest where, according to Yee Lisan, one of the people in charge of YNN, cannot be found even on Google Maps) on Saturday morning.

The previous day, Jeannette told us that there would be a photoshoot for the cover of the first issue of Stuff@School next year so that was the first thing on our agenda for the day. Only Ellora, Paik Suan, June, Kyle, Amanda, Min Hui and I were involved in the photoshoot because Jeannette didn’t want the cover to be too crowded.

(Photo will posted here once it’s out.)

After that, we had lunch and since I still had RM 50+ worth of coupons and it’s already my last day of internship, I belanja-ed everyone a bottle of Minute Maid and it felt awesome. Being nice is awesome. (Lol.)

After that, we went back to Level 3A and both Ellora and I were given a new assignment by Ann Marie Chandy (another editor) to search for a new theme for the Silver Scream section. In the end, we decided on Nicholas Sparks’ book-to-movie adaptations and I reviewed The Last Song (it was okay) and Dear John (it was not okay) whereas Ellora reviewed The Notebook and A Walk To Remember.

The first day of YNN officially starts tomorrow!

EDIT: This post was supposed to be published yesterday but this went down: I was halfway through this post when I suddenly felt something pressed against my chest and I found it hard to breathe and I started to panic as I shut everything down. I wanted to just forget it and maybe just sleep it away so I thought maybe I’ll just play Temple Run to calm my nerves for a while until I’m relaxed enough to go to sleep but the paranoid parrot in me kept reminding me of my pain and the possible outcomes of my ignorance, eg. a full-force pneumonia which would lead to death. I really, really thought I was going to die last night. It was frightening. The fact that San Ku and Hoon Jie Jie were both unwell and already asleep made things worse. However, in the end, I had to wake Hoon Jie Jie up anyway even though she was sick with a cough and flu (I’m so, so sorry) and she had to drive me to the emergency area at Damansara Specialist Hospital where they did a check up for me and told me I was okay but after consultation, the doctor said it was probably a normal case of acid reflex. So apparently, it’s all fine and dandy but I still needed to get an injection (three full syringes) which would be the first one I’ve had all year long.

But I’m fine and all that now. Just my paranoia making life harder again.

Tomorrow me and 30 other teenagers will be heading for Bentong, Pahang and you know what that means! No Internet! So I will be AWOL from the Internet universe for three days until I return in the evening of Monday.

Today has been amazing. I’m drafting it.

I also can’t believe that I’m leaving soon. Halfway through dinner, this realisation really hit me on the head with such force that nausea overwhelmed me for a moment before I forced those thoughts out of my head. I’m not exactly prepared for a post-internship depression period when I get home.

Internship Day Ten to Fourteen

Internship Day Ten- 5/12, Monday

First day at Education Desk! This time, Min Hui and Claire were switched to Features Desk and Paik Suan (who was originally at Business Desk) and I to Education Desk. On that day, the second batch of Starstruck! writers arrived: Alicia Nicholle and Amelia Henderson. Both of them plus Vincent were at Newsdesk.

The day before, Chelsea (The OC of Edu Desk) had already given me assignments through email which is interviewing three mothers for easy and healthy recipes to be published in the Smart Snacks column. I interviewed Mum, Ju Mei (not a mother, I know, but a teenager which makes it better because the recipes are supposed to be for young students and undergrads who er…don’t know how to cook) and Min Hui’s mum.

Nothing eventful happened for the day. (I define “eventful” as going out for assignments.) However, these two events did happen:

#1. Jeannette asked if I wanted to do a book review for Write Reads in Stuff@School and I said yes, so I chose Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi because Harper Collins had tweeted about the newly released book and I wanted to find out if it was as good as the people at Harper Collins had said (hint: no). Later, my spirits rose when I found out I could keep the book! Astounding news!

#2. All four of us, Min Hui, Paik Suan, Claire and I had a huge laughfest. I don’t really want to talk about the main reason that caused the laughfest because despite it being a laughfest, it was actually quite er…controversial. But it was Paik Suan (supposedly the leader of the Circle of Hate which subsequently changed into the Circle of Love) who started the passionate and heated debate which brought tears to her eyes (“Those were tears from laughing too hard! Seriously! I have really, really sensitive eyes!”), and then the laughfest heightened with the appearance of a scary Claire-lookalike and then heightened even more when I introduced Min Hui to the existence of a particular Harry Potter fanfic (snigger) and we couldn’t stop laughing for about half an hour. I realise that we were once again nuisances to everyone on the floor and I sincerely apologise.

Highlights of the laughfest through tweets:

Internship Day Eleven- 6/12, Tuesday

Day Eleven saw me waking up to this tweet…

…and my day got better instantly.

The day at the office was uneventful too, and I spent the whole day finishing up my first email mythbuster article and coming up with a topic for my personal story. Sitting next to Paik Suan (who was typing away ceaselessly on the computer) made me feel like the worst and most unproductive procrastinator ever. Thanks, Paik Suan.

We also found out Jeannette and Anne were designing Starstruck! T-shirts for us Starstruckers! Brilliant!

That night, with In The Mourning constantly on repeat, I had to crop an image of a cockroach by its borders (not a very entertaining activity for a katsaridaphobe like me) for my email mythbuster article and safe to say, it was the most traumatizing experience I’ve ever had to endure ever since I came to KL.

(Curious about aforementioned traumatizing picture? Click here!)

Internship Day Twelve- 7/12, Wednesday

Our assignment for the day was to attend the Memorandum of Cooperation Signing Ceremony between KDU University College and ECM Libra Foundation. Both companies were collaborating to to provide a bursary and loan scheme to underprivileged children in developing towns. It was an interesting ceremony, to be fairly honest, contrary to the fact that it was described as “dry and boring” before we left for the assignment. But you know the real thrilling treat of the day?

We had lunch at this prestigious and high-class Italian restaurant called Pietro and…

Wait for it…

…it was free!

Free, delicious, four-coursed, Italian gourmet food that made Paik Suan and I gasp at each other in awe and amazement after taking a bite of each dish. The first course was a round of antipasti (an Italian appetizer of bread with various dishes such as black peppered vegetables, cubed cheese, fresh prawns, fried squid etc) which was, truthfully, a new experience for me. The second round was mushroom soup so glorious and heavenly it left me begging for more. The third course was a huge plate of chicken steak and pasta which was, admittedly, too large a portion but was still delizioso. The last course was the best of all: creamy, vanilla gelato with strawberries. The sweet vanilla ice cream blended with the fresh, sour taste of strawberries which led to a divine explosion in my mouth.

We both agreed it was the best lunch we’ve ever had since November 21st.

The company was good, too! Big names from KDU UC were fascinated that we were only sixteen years old and already working. Words like “scholarship” and “internship” were thrown around fairly often in our conversations and we both knew we’d schmoozed with the right kind of people. It was great.

Internship Day Thirteen- 8/12, Thursday

When I first started this internship, I never dreamt of the day when my assignment would actually involve a trip to a book carnival. Well, guess what?

My assignment on Day Thirteen was a trip to the MPH Carnival at Midvalley! Brillante!

When we got there, the place was already brimming with people. There was no space to move between shelves and the queues at the counters were formidable. Although, admittedly, the carnival proved to be quite a disappointment. The book choices were few and the discounts only went up to 25%. We couldn’t even use our complimentary MPH book vouchers (yes, we got complimentary MPH book vouchers). But in the end, I bought The Hobbit as well as the entire set of Lord of the Rings for…

Wait for it…

forty bucks only.

Granted, it was exactly like the one I already have but forty bucks.

“I had to buy it,” said 16-year-old Michelle Teoh’s obsessive compulsive disorder.

Anyway, we attended the official launch, then proceeded to our second assignment which involved another round of ambushing random people. This time, the ambushees were parents. We were doing a story on parents’ budgets to prepare their kids for next year, and to find out if the RM100 money aid was useful. (To be truthful, non è stato.)

Then came the worst episode of the day: waiting for a cab. When we saw the long queue at the taxi pick-up and also the rain, our spirits dropped instantaneously. Safe to say, from the moment we waited for a cab, took a cab, waited in a cab in a traffic jam to the moment we reached Menara Star, two hours were wasted, just like that. And that is why I will never, ever, ever want to live in KL.

We were exhausted by the time we reached the office and yet we had an 800-word article to churn out. However, my spirits were lifted mildly when we found out there was a Christmas buffet for the staff! It’s wonderful when these little unexpected joyful surprises pop up to add a little colour to your dull day: it’s one of those I-believe-in-the-existence-of-unicorns moments once again.

Christmas tree and decoration on Level 1 of Menara Star.

Later, we found out from Anne that there was even a group of staff from Sunway Resort Hotel who did some caroling at Menara Star! They were also the ones who’d sponsored the Christmas buffet. There was turkey, cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, fruitcakes and candycanes. It was brilliant. I’ve never been more excited for Christmas.

The Star, 9/12/11.

Internship Day Fourteen- 9/12, Friday

We headed for 1Utama at 11.30 AM to continue our parents-ambushing assignment. After that, I stole a few minutes at MPH to spend my MPH vouchers. I bought Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Hence, that would be nine books plus one huge LOTR book set I’m lugging back to Alor Setar. Simply fantastico, Michelle.

I just finished Shatter Me. If you’re planning to pick up that book, don’t. Reading that book literally made me nauseous.

The Star, 9/12/11. That would be Amelia in the picture!

Things to look forward to: meetup with Farhanah and Sarah in the morning at 1Utama on Sunday, meetup with all the Starstruckers in the evening at 1Utama on Sunday, arrival of the Form 5 Starstruckers on Monday and the YNN workshop on Friday.

It astounds me how time flies so quickly. I only have a week left.

LOOK! SNOW! (Internship Day Six to Nine)

What? What are these weird white spots drifting down my computer screen? Is it…snow?

Well, my golly, it sure is! And what does snow mean?


And what does winter mean?


Yes, the festive mood is in the air! Old blog readers will notice that I had the snow function turned on as well last December. Now you know why WordPress rules: you get free snow on your blog every December if you’re on WordPress. How badass.

Also, theme change. I changed to this new theme with a darker backdrop so you can see the snow more clearly. I will change it back to Manifest (that’s the totally-white, header-equipped theme I used previously) on the 4th of January when the snow function ends.

Okay, now for those who want to know why I don’t blog about my internship everyday now. I have finally won the battle against my OCD (who wants a post per day) to give you a post per week. Reasons why I don’t want a post per day:

  • Easier for me
  • Less annoying for you

I often come home from work in no mood to write a blogpost, so I’m only going to write about my entire week during the weekends. Which starts today. TGIF, man, TGIF.

Internship Day Six- 29/11, Tuesday

All four of us were divided into two groups again: Min Hui & Paik Suan, Claire and I. Min Hui and Paik Suan followed Yvonne to an event attended by the Minister of Tourism, Dato’ Sri Ng Yen Yen, while Claire and I followed Terrence to an event attended by -le gasp!- Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor. Before setting off, we did some stalking (or intense researching, as Paik Suan likes to put it) on Rosmah Mansor’s part and needless to say, it was scandalous, indeed.

It took us an hour to arrive at Hulu Langat, where the Girl Guides’ Selangor ‘Turun Padang’ Closing Ceremony officiated by Rosmah Mansor herself was held. By the time we arrived, I was already dizzy with motion sickness, so you know the ride wasn’t really a nice one. It wasn’t Terrence’s fault though. That’s the peculiar thing about my motion sickness, it comes as it likes under any circumstance at all. I even get motion sickness staying at home. This is not your average motion sickness.

But the next hour proved to be entertaining, although, I don’t think I was supposed to be entertained. I don’t think I should write down what exactly happened that proved to be entertainment to me here because my blog is easily Google-able (hahahahahahahahahahahahaha) but if you want to know, ask me next time when we meet and I’ll tell you.

Then, it was another hour-ride back to Menara Star but I felt better this time. We had great conversations with Terrence in the car about movies, TV shows, books, anime, celebrities, books, future careers, KL geography, and did I mention books?

Here, have a photo of Rosmah Mansor:

Internship Day Seven- 30/11, Wednesday

Internship Day Seven is practically crossed off the list. I didn’t go to work that Wednesday because there were still remnants of the previous day’s nausea. It was horrible. I did nothing except sleep the whole day, and when I felt better, I spent the rest of the whole day on Hyperbole And A Half and The Oatmeal.

Internship Day Eight- 1/12, Thursday

That morning, Shah (the associate editor of newsdesk, remember?) gave all of us interns words of advice, about how we should fully use our senses to gain knowledge; because that’s the race we should never give up on: the race to gain knowledge. Then, we were given an assignment to attend a press conference conducted by Datuk Michael Chong at the MCA building. We were led by Shaun, a different senior journalist.

The press conference was held at the Public Services and Complaints Department and there were three cases that afternoon: a woman was charged an exorbitant amount of money for her towed-away car, and the other two were missing person cases; one involved a mentally challenged 37-year-old and another a 14-year-old teenage girl. I really can’t say anything here for reasons similar to the aforementioned Rosmah Mansor event, so ask me this again when you see me. It was equally entertaining and frustrating. I am never going near the Malaysian political field again.

Internship Day Nine- 2/12, Friday

It feels weird to be working on a Friday. Friday’s normally let’s-do-nothing-but-have-fun day back in Alor Setar.

Nevertheless, it was our last day at the newsdesk department and, well, it was quite a sad moment when the realisation hit us because we won’t really be seeing Yvonne or Esther or the other journalists and OCs we’ve grown used to seeing every weekday anymore.

Today’s assignment was another event involving Ng Yen Yen at the National Art Gallery. It was an opening ceremony for Malaysian artist Ali ‘Mabuha’ Rahamad’s art exhibition. Before the ceremony started, we took a look at all of Ali Mabuha’s works and they were disturbing, to be frank. There was a section in which there was a particularly dark and depressing theme to it and Yvonne, Min Hui and I more or less made our own logical interpretations of the art pieces. I wanted to point out that moment because I felt…different after our interpretations. Like there’s something hidden from my sight all along. Artists, how do their brains work?

Then came the highlight of the day, an incident that sent us laughing all the way back to Menara Star. There was this Orlando Bloom lookalike at the gallery and at first sight, Min Hui and Paik Suan started flailing. After that, it was a case of well, stalking Orlando Bloom lookalike all the way into the gallery on the first floor, then out of the gallery, then into the gallery on the second floor, then out of the gallery again, and then waiting near the table where he sat at to have lunch while pretending to be playing Temple Run (that would be Min Hui). I swear, we are such hormonal teenage girls. Back in the car, we told Yvonne about our stalking quest and she just laughed at us and the laughter never ended all the way to Menara Star. It was great.

And that was the end of the days of working at newsdesk. Next stop: education department.

Did I mention that Si Pek, Si Em and Soo Ling are coming to KL tomorrow? Yes!

Internship Day Five

I realise I have not shown Careful Confessions my tag yet so here it is.

I received a text from Anne this morning saying that “Friday is dress down day at The Star” so I decided to wear jeans to work today. Esther was our OC for the day again and she said she will be sending us off with Yvonne to Midvalley on a new assignment as soon as Yvonne checks in at around noon. She was checking in later than usual today because she had to stay at Menara Star till midnight last night to finish her assignments. As usual, echoing Min Hui’s “Interns: forever waiting” slogan, we sat ourselves at the computer terminals until Yvonne arrived at around 1 PM. After lunch, we left for Midvalley at 2 PM.

Our assignment for today was to look out for the latest Christmas deco trend in malls this year. Once again, we were divided into two groups and I went with Paik Suan today while Min Hui went with Claire. What we did was observe the Christmas decorations each shop had put on, interview the shop owners and also customers on their Christmas deco theme for the year, what kind of deco has the highest sales etc. We went into Living Cabin, A Cut Above, Luggage Empire, Sony Centre and Living Quarters in Metrojaya. The only shop that had an obvious prevailing theme was Living Quarters: traditional Christmas VS modern Christmas (which would include White Christmas, Kaleidoscope Christmas etc). We spent quite some time squealing over the fabulous decorations and I even got owls!

However, an issue went down with the manager of Metrojaya but Yvonne got it sorted out quickly. After that, we left at around 4 PM to write our stories at Menara Star.

Highlight of the day: Kyle, also a Starstrucker (and an SPM candidate) had posted a status in which he was asking for dares and the dare which got a minimum of 50 likes, he would do it. During our “hanging out at the computer terminals” session in the morning, we found out that Le Shea had already posted a dare: “I dare you to make a cover of Rebecca Black’s Friday, upload it on Youtube, and at the end of the video, declare your undying love for her.” It was fantastic, since Kyle was famous for constantly serenading us Starstruckers with Friday on the Starstruck! 2011 group wall every Friday. At the time, there were only 19 likes, and, desperate to see Kyle’s rendition of Miss Black’s renowned song, we started going crazy and spread the word all over the Internet universe. By the time we left, there were 21 likes. By the time we got back, there were 48 likes. Fifteen minutes later, goal achieved: 51 likes. We had the time of our lives, laughing and screeching until I was quite sure the other surrounding journalists were already fed up with us. Sorry. But yes, we look forward to Kyle’s video soon. When we told Yvonne about this exciting turn of events, she even said it would make a good story on R.AGE. Things just rose to a whole new level.

It’s finally Friday (oh, the irony) and for once, I can say Thank God It’s Friday! Not that I had a particularly horrible week (quite the opposite) but yeah, I never get to say that back in Alor Setar so yay!

I will also be meeting up with Effie, Ellie and Mei at Midvalley tomorrow! How exciting!

Internship Day Four

One of the many motivational pin-ups on the cabinets above the computer terminals at Newsdesk.

I decided to wear a skirt to office today. I don’t know, random statement.

We hung out around the computer terminals at Newsdesk again today until Yvonne said four of us would be divided into two groups: one group would follow her to a press conference by Datuk Michael Chong, the other would follow another senior journalist named Wani to a Deepavali open house where we will supposedly meet the president of MIC, Dato’ G. Palanivel. We drew lots and Min Hui and I got Palanivel whereas Paik Suan and Claire got Michael Chong.

We left Menara Star with Wani in a cab at around lunchtime. To be honest, we had no idea where we were going and had assumed that it would be a political press conference. Hence, we were genuinely surprised when Wani gave directions to the cab driver to set off for the TNB Headquarters in Bangsar. It appeared that we were attending a Deepavali open house organised by TNB. The hall in which the open house was held was huge and took us by surprise the moment we stepped into it. There were about 50 tables and stalls full of marvelous Indian food outlined the hall. Despite the fact that we already had lunch at the cafeteria back at Menara Star before this, Min Hui and I couldn’t resist ourselves and went for another round, and a huge round at that. If Min Hui was around right now she’d know all the names of the dishes we had but she isn’t so let me just say that the food was heavenly. Free, good Indian food, now where else on Earth can you find that?

With our stomachs full to the brim, we were given tasks by Wani to interview several retirees who were invited to attend the function. Again, butterflies started fluttering in my stomach but as it was with the previous ambush-interviews, I put on a smile and approached this one retiree named Ismail Omar who was the ex-Deputy Chief Engineer of the company. All the retirees were extremely friendly and even quite adorable. Most of their answers to the question “How do you feel being invited to return to such events despite the fact that you’re already retired?” were “I feel happy because it’s one of the few times I get to meet my old friends and colleagues, to see how many are left every year. And I find out that the crowd actually gets smaller every year!”

The second task Wani gave us was to interview several orphans who were invited to the event, during which they were given Deepavali angpaus (Deepaus? Valipaus?). I interviewed two 13-year-olds from the At-Taqwa orphanage/kebajikan centre about how they felt coming here, what they planned to do with the money they received etc.

After we were done with the orphans, we had a brief interview with the Chief Executive Officer of TNB, Dato’ Sri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh. He was a friendly person and answered all our questions quite enthusiastically. By the time it was time to leave, I was already exhausted. Ah, the life of a journalist.

(“What happened to Palanivel?” Well, Palanivel’s mother passed away the day before so Datuk S. Subramaniam attended the event instead. We didn’t interview him though because he didn’t make a speech as we had initially expected.)

When we returned to Menara Star, I started on the report on the orphans and Min Hui did the one with the retirees and when we were done, we sent them to Wani. Paik Suan and Claire returned a little later than us and we found out that they’d gone to a real press conference (with huge cameras flashing every now and then and reporters jotting down notes at tables provided) and they had to write their reports on the event, too.

One more day until I can say “TGIF!”

Internship Day Three

The morning of day three saw me in bed with a nauseous stomach, a leftover from the previous night. I thought I was going to puke if I even got off the bed but I managed to win the battle and went to work.

Wow, “went to work”. Technically it’s not work because it’s just an internship but wow, work.

Esther was our OC at Newsdesk for the day and she gave us our first, official assignment since we stepped into Menara Star. All four of us were to follow a senior journalist, Yvonne Lim to 1Utama to interview (or rather, “ambush”, as how Yvonne had put it) several teenagers about what they were doing during the holidays. Before that, though, each of us called up a few friends of ours to interview them about their interesting holiday activities and at such a short notice, I could only randomly pick several friends and Anum, who was spending her holidays preparing for F1 Nationals, and Joey, who would be filming a short movie under her school’s Filmmaking Society in December were the unlucky (or lucky, up to you) ones.

We set off for 1Utama at around lunchtime. We headed for the cinema and bowling centre because those were the teenage hotspots and started our “ambushing” quest. To be honest, I felt like a sitting duck as soon as Yvonne said, “You can go try interview random people now” because…well, what if they ran away? What if they just stared at me and I wouldn’t know what to say at all? I didn’t even know what to say! God help me if I started stuttering and made a fool of myself. But as the others started off on their individual quests, I had no choice but to do the same. My first victim was a guy from SMJK Katholik and well, okay, at least my questions were clear and I got answers so not bad huh! My next victims were six 12-year-olds from SJK (C) Yuk Chai who came here as a sort of post-exams-cum-holiday class gathering at the bowling alley. One of the kids, a girl, was particularly enthusiastic and actually fought to be interviewed, exclaiming that, “We’re going to be in the newspaper! We’re going to be in The Star!” Amused by this, I was.

There is one thing about being a journalist (despite being an interned one) that boosts your confidence with each round of interview. One minute I was shaking in my flats, wondering what was going to happen to me if I went up to a random teenager to ask him or her about their activities during the holiday, and then the other I was getting addicted to marching up on random strangers to ask them questions. Done with every interviewee, I hunted for more (that sounded quite wrong but the metaphor is relevant). However, soon, we got the number of people we wanted and it was time to leave.

At Menara Star, we spent the remaining hour typing up short reports on our interviewees’ responses and left for home after we were done. We also managed to help Esther to decorate the mini Christmas tree at Level 5 before leaving.

Decorated by the Starstruck! interns.

My parents left KL at around 1 PM so that night, homesickness made a sudden appearance and I was left with nothing to do but sleep.

Internship Day Two (Bonus: An Elton John Concert!)

The beginning of day two saw me using the overhead bridge to get to Menara Star for the first time. It wasn’t a good start because I was paranoid about the man who followed me all the way from the petrol station to the bridge. Don’t worry, nothing happened.

We reported to Devid at Newsdesk this morning and he said our assignment for the day was to follow a senior journalist to court. As in, a real court, the Shah Alam High Court at Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah at, obviously, Shah Alam. However, the journalist was already at the court so we had to take a cab to Shah Alam.

At the court, we met Nurbaiti Hamdan, who had just come out of a court session in which the accused was given a death penalty for drug trafficking. We saw real criminals, handcuffed and led away by the police, with our own eyes. It was frightening but sort of exciting as well, because I’ve never seen a real handcuffed criminal with my own naked eyes before and I’m pretty sure most teenagers my age have never done the same, either.

There was a pretty long break session during which we hung out at the cafeteria. There, Baiti told us about her life as a journalist. She said her base was at the Shah Alam court, and she mainly handles court cases. She described situations during court sessions, how the criminals and the people there react, what the lawyers and judges do etc and it was brand new information because I’ve never known about court sessions in such detail.

She also told us that the next court session would be about a DPP charged for falsifying information on a drug offence case, and it would start at 2.30 PM. I fidgeted a little because I told Dad I was allowed to go back at 2 PM for the Elton John concert (!!!) but I also wanted to experience a real court session so it was a heated internal dilemma but in the end I chose to go to Sir Elton John’s concert because how many times do you get to watch Elton John live? (But then again, how many times do you get to watch a real court session as well but that’s not really the point because if I ask that question this parenthesized sentence will never end.)

So, Soo May picked me up at the court at 1 PM, and we got lost at Shah Alam for about an hour before managing to turn into the route leading to PJ.

We, my parents, my aunt and uncle, Soo May, Soo Ling and I, set off for Genting Highlands at 2.30 PM. It wasn’t the best day for travelling for me because I was already quite dizzy from the cab ride to Shah Alam so I treated sleep and a Panadol tablet as my only antidotes. And yet they didn’t even work. The nausea disappeared momentarily when we stepped out of the vehicle after reaching Genting because it was absolutely and terribly cold and we couldn’t see anything at all in the mist. Convinced that we were lost for numerous times, we finally found our way to Arena of Stars. However, we were only allowed to enter the arena at 6.30 PM so we spent our time at a restaurant with the word ‘Hainan’ in its name (I forgot the full name, okay). After two pieces of hot toast, two soft-boiled eggs and a huge mug of hot teh tarik, the nausea started to resurface and by 7 PM, I was prone to puking any time, but I refused adamantly because I hate vomiting with a passion.

I tried to calm myself down mentally and managed alright when we entered the arena at 7.30 PM. While waiting for the show to begin, another internal dilemma appeared in the form of two arguing parties on whether To Puke or Not Puke. In the end, Not Puke won and I gradually got better as the opening act, a two-cellist-band from Croatia called 2Cellos took the stage. Best opening act I’ve ever watched live (compared to Y2K during Paramore live), might I add. They performed Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson, With Or Without You by U2, Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N’ Roses and Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana with their cellos only and they were fantastic. Please Youtube them. Please.

Please don’t expect any high quality photos of the concert. If I could actually capture high quality photos at an Elton John concert, there wouldn’t be any photos at all.

After Smells Like Teen Spirit, the ever-amazing Sir Elton John appeared and launched into a total of 26 songs on his setlist. Ever so amiable, he would stand up and address the crowd after almost every song and that would send the audience into hysterics. Don’t think pop rock concert hysterics though, because everyone was seated in chairs although most of the crowd stood up during quick-paced songs and even then, they would eventually sit down again when the next song started.

Some of the more famous songs he performed were Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Candle In the Wind, Bennie And The Jets and Crocodile Rock. All the time I was hoping he would perform Your Song because that was my favourite Elton John song but he didn’t- right until the time when he reappeared on the stage for an encore after a consistent chant of “We want more!” by the audience (my Dad very much included). That was when he started to sing Your Song and after much persuading from my Dad’s part, despite my still-uncomfortable stomach, I got up from my seat and swayed along to the song. My favourite song was an encore! It was great.

The concert actually went on for almost three hours, because when Elton John does an encore, he does it for half an hour instead of only 10 minutes. Elton John is better than most of you.

When the concert ended, it was already 11 something but luckily Dad managed to leave his parking spot rather easily instead of facing congested traffic like most of the other cars did. The ride down the slope was a slow one though, because of the thick mist. The ride down also managed to rekindle the nausea within me so it was another unpleasant hour-ride back to PJ. I fell asleep almost immediately after showering.

Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated:

Internship Day One

Sort-of Prelude

I arrived at PJ at around 4 PM with my parents, uncle and aunt and Soo Ling the day before on Sunday and the rest of the day consisted of visiting Eng Koko at the UM Hospital, a short visit to 1Utama and also moving in my incredibly large luggage plus five other bags (yes, mine and mine alone) into San Ku’s house where I will be staying at for the period of one month throughout the internship. By the time night fell, my heart was in my throat, I had a throbbing headache, and there was nothing but butterflies in my stomach. I sort of dreaded the arrival of the next day but time flew anyway and soon enough, it was-

Day One

Perhaps I should mention that I spent the entire morning ironing my collared blouse for three times straight. To be honest, I was very wary of the dress code and decided to opt for the safest option- a collared blouse, a pair of black slacks and black flats with buckles. I was too nervous to eat much for breakfast. Why was I nervous? I was nervous because days before the internship, Mum had bombarded me with lectures about how PR was the most important thing when you step into the working world and I’m not saying she’s wrong because she is right but the truth is I am a hopeless crackhead when it comes to communications and interactions with other human beings. Will the other interns like me? Will the officers like me? Will Anne and Jeannette (the masterminds behind Stuff@School) like me? After all, I’m just this strange kid from a tiny town someone from camp three years ago used to mistake as being in a different state thousands of kilometers away from its actual location (“Oh, Alor Setar, is that in Sarawak?“) with a different mentality from the local people here. Of course, there is always the easy solution of just being myself but apparently, just being myself means being awfully crappy at interacting with people and then my Mum’s lecture would start to resound in my head and all these would just go round and round in my head, taking away my appetite with it.

Menara Star

It was the first day, so Dad agreed to fetch me to Menara Star and Mum also agreed to accompany me, at least to the lobby. I reached Menara Star at around 8.45 AM which, I would later find out, was super early because Jeannette, who we were supposed to be reporting to, wasn’t even in yet. So I waited at the waiting lounge to find out Vincent was already there, reading. (The first batch of interns consisted of five people: me, Quah Paik Suan, Lee Min Hui, Claire Tan and Vincent Hoy.) It was a sort of awkward moment because the first time I saw him I had no idea who he was so I just sat down in a chair two seats away from him until a security guard came up to both of us asking what was it exactly we were here for and I found out he was here for the Starstruck! internship too and oh, it was Vincent Hoy. We introduced ourselves to each other then and soon, Paik Suan arrived and there goes another round of introductions. Claire arrived shortly after that and after the third round of introductions, Jeannette arrived and led us to Level 13, Human Resources department, where we were brought to a mini meeting room and a staff named Kayetri gave us internship forms to fill in. Min Hui arrived after that and after completing the forms, Anne Barbosa appeared to take us to Level 3A, Education department. There, we were welcomed, briefed and given cafeteria coupons. Then, we had lunch at the cafeteria at Level 2 called “Star Byte” (which is pretty ingenious, if you ask me).

Paik Suan, Min Hui and Claire.
Newdesk department. Full of flags of football teams because according to Mr Devid, "A lot of staff here are football fanatics."

After lunch, we hung around at Edu before Anne brought the four of us (me, Paik Suan, Min Hui and Claire; Vincent would be in Features for the first week) to Newsdesk to meet our OC for the day, Mr Devid Rajah. It appeared that our arrival was quite spontaneous so we did nothing except hang around the computer terminals until evening. At 5, Hoon Jie Jie picked me up and I had dinner with my parents, San Ku and Xiao Ku at Taman Tun.

Despite the fact that we practically did nothing at Menara Star but drift from department to department for the entire day, it was quite exhilarating (a word I will be using quite frequently in these internship posts, might I add) for me because it was my first time at Menara Star and the atmosphere at the various departments were pleasantly new to me. I mean, I was breathing the air in which fresh news was being transmitted at the very moment! The sound of people typing away on keyboards and polite, inquiring interviews in the form of phone calls, the smell of freshly printed newspapers and documents…it was heavenly. The people there weren’t as scary as I’d thought they would be, either, although some of them were certainly strange. Shah, an associate editor at Newsdesk, gave all four of us wise words of wisdom that began with, “Life is a sandwich.”

“First, there is the first layer, or bread, whatever you call it. That’s when you first step into this adult, working world. Everything will be different and tough at first, but when you get the hang of things, you slowly start to get better, which leads to the second layer, the meat or whatever it is you put in your sandwich. That’s when you start knowing what you’re really doing and enjoying it. Last bread layer is the part where you find out it’s already time to leave.”

Strange analogy, but great, relatable words, I have to admit.

There was also a guy in Newsdesk who introduced himself by saying, “Hi, I’m Nizam and you can call me your highness.”

When we were brought around Newsdesk, we were also frequently introduced as “the new slaves” (but in a joking manner, of course) so you can understand why I used the term ‘strange’.

All in all, it was a great day and all I hope for is a greater day tomorrow.

The Start of Something New

Have I managed to capture your attention with this High-School-Musical-related title? I used to have a HSM phase, don’t judge.

In all seriousness though, I find this title particularly appropriate for the following content, because tomorrow (technically, it’s Monday, but I think tomorrow counts as well) will be the start of something new. I will be working as an intern at The Star for a month starting from Monday.

And while this is amazing and mind-blowing, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, I can’t help but feel terrified. In fact, as of right now, the terror outweighs the excitement.

Not knowing what’s in store for me is one thing, but knowing what’s in store for me and yet feeling inadequate is another. I am horrible when it comes to communicating with other human beings, friend or not, and never having left home for more than a week has made me pampered, so you see where I’m going.

I know that this is precisely why the internship is good for me, because it’s going to make me a stronger, braver and more independent person, but I am afraid that I’m too afraid to do so, and that I won’t live up to the expectations. I have never felt this tiny before.

Despite all these confusing feelings, one thing’s for sure: whatever happens during that period of one month in KL, I will definitely come home to Alor Setar a different person, and hopefully I’ve changed for the better.

I’m sorry this post isn’t as long as I’d promised in my previous post. I’d initially wanted to pour everything out but then decided that wasn’t a wise idea.

Dear post-internship Michelle, as you reread this (I know you will, because you [or rather, we because we’re actually the same person obviously] are extreme narcissists), I hope you had a fantastic time at Menara Star and that you did not regret a single thing. I hope you learned a thing or two to make your life infinitely better than it is right now. I also hope you do not come back with a “big city mentality”, as I like to call it, because who knows what a city as huge as Kuala Lumpur is able to do to you? Remember your roots. (I am beginning to sound like a Disney movie now, aren’t I?) And if you didn’t enjoy your time there (though I hugely doubt so), remember that you have a knack of finding certain joys in life from the littlest things, so don’t mope over what’s over and start…preparing for your Form 5 life.

That horrible sentence ended quite horribly, didn’t it?

Anyway, goodbye, fair folk of Alor Setar. I will miss you and don’t worry, I’ll bring back nice gifts for you.

PS. Hopefully, I will be able to constantly update this blog about my current conditions while I’m there if I’m not too busy enough (woo intimidation!).

Something Goes Right In My Life

The very start of my Starstruck! journey

I woke up a very sick person this morning with a runny nose followed by a fever. The entire morning went by quite horribly until I woke up from an uncomfortable nap in the afternoon to check my Facebook on my phone.

To find out that other Starstruck! writers were squealing about getting the internship.

The first thought that came to mind was, what! when! where! how! and then I proceeded to check my email because that would be the logical thing to do…and found no email. The whole time, I kept on repeating to myself that whatever happens, do not be disappointed, but despite that I still felt disappointed because most people I know from Starstruck! (Amanda, Ju Mei, Ellora) got the internship. And then I told myself, it’s alright, you should’ve seen this coming anyway.

And then for some reason, I had an urge to check my old email inbox, the email address which I first used for my Starstruck! assignments. I didn’t know what I was expecting because the whole time I logged into Yahoo! with my old email address, my head was filled with desperate and contradicting thoughts like “please please please let the email be there” and “don’t be disappointed, don’t expect anything” because that was my constant motto, to never harbour any expectations. And when the Yahoo! mailbox page loaded, guess what I saw…!!!


So that will mean I will be staying in KL alone (well not really alone as in one-person but alone as in without my parents) for a month from the 21st of November to 20th of December and I will be working at Menara Star as a journalist intern within the heart of the newspaper itself.

Needless to say, I was jumping with joy after that and it was like déjà vu all over again.

However, despite the joy of finally having earned something valuable after months of desperate deadlines and mind-crushing assignments, the idea of going to KL for the internship and living alone is frightening, doubled by my introverted personality. It’s going to be a mad world out there, and I don’t know what it’ll do to my “fragile” sixteen-year-old soul.

Now, barely two months away from the internship in Malaysia’s NYC, I see this as a huge turning point in my life. And I know, despite the scary premonitions and predictions, I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Before I go, here’s a note to my fellow Starstruck! writers since our Starstruck! journey is finally and actually coming to an end:

Dear all, each and everyone of you,

You are all such amazing people, such amazing writers, to be exact. I know I haven’t been the friendliest one of the bunch, and I also know attributing my unfriendliness to my introversion sounds like a lame excuse, but that is the reason I keep to myself most of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to mix around with you guys (quite the opposite, actually), and I certainly hope you guys don’t pass it off as arrogance or snobbishness because to be honest, I don’t really have much to be arrogant or proud of, since most writers on the Starstruck! programme are definitely more talented than I am. I’m still trying to work on my hermit personality.

You don’t know how thankful I am, though, that I have come to know quite a number of amazing new friends through Starstruck! Those crazy chats and the random thingmajigs that go on on the Starstruck! 40 Facebook group wall. Missing the meet-up at Menara Star in June this year was one of the most regretful decisions I’ve made, but I still cling on to the hope that I get to meet each of my fellow Starstruckers someday in the future. (I guess you can say meeting Amanda is my first step forward to that goal.)

To the masterminds behind Stuff@School, thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this eye-opening young journalist programme. As I’d once told Amanda, before Starstruck!, I was safe within the confines of my tiny home in the equally tiny town of Alor Setar, believing that I had what it takes, but after Starstruck!, I realised there was much more to it than I’d thought. I now get a sense of what I might want to be in the future, and I am positive the internship will be an even more helpful guide as I wade through the murky waters of the journalism world.

Before I leave, a very heartfelt congratulations to the other upper secondary writers who also got the internship: Alicia, Eibhlin, Amelia, Ann-Marie, Claire, Ju Mei, Min Hui, Ellora, June, Najihah, Kathy, Vincent, Kyle, Paik Suan and Amanda New York City!

Once a Starstruck!, forever a Starstruck!

Interlude 2

Modeled by Hui Ying, yours truly and Ching Ju. Photographed by my mum.

“Society teaches ‘don’t get raped’ rather than ‘don’t rape’.”

                                                                         -Hilary Beaumont

The scenario in the Teoh’s household this evening: photoshoot first-timers, lots of giggling, awkward photo poses, an impatient photographer, “creative” brainstorms but most importantly, the ability to send our message across to the worldwide society.

Watch out for a future issue of Stuff@School in…the future.


Related links (for those in the dark):

A Road Down Humiliation Lane

This morning, I did the mistake of randomly clicking a past blogpost dated in 2009 titled ‘100 Truths’. The chaos that ensued was terrifying, but fortunately only witnessed by myself and no one else when I screamed and sobbed to no end alone in my room. 14-year-old Michelle was…ghastly. Take a look at it yourself. Back during the days when every sentence ended with a ‘=)’ or ‘xD’ or ‘=.=’ and words were spelled like ‘thx’ or ‘4’ or ‘teh’ or ‘sux’. If you follow me on Twitter, you would know the huge fit I had over that particular blogpost. And that’s not to mention the hundreds other posts I made during that time. (Okay, maybe not hundreds but these cases deserve their hyperboles.)

I cannot remember being like that, being fourteen. I cannot see myself writing things like that on the cyber web merely two years ago. That person is the perfect example of people I facepalm over. That. Cannot. Be. Me.

Remember one of my Open Topic posts where I wrote how I wished to turn back time and return to the past? I take that back.

On another note, a thankfully less humiliating one, my assignment got published in the latest issue of Stuff@School! I didn’t really expect it to be published because I wrote it during the eleventh hour in a rush, but the world is unpredictable, huh? This is also a true story, by the way. Perhaps not fully accurate, but a bird really did poop on Shun Jun’s shirt in class, and that memory popped up immediately after I got the prompt for my assignment which was ‘Funniest Misadventure In Class’. People who got mentioned in this article: Shun Jun, Chun Tat and Chia Shin. I couldn’t mention everyone, as much as I want to (because seeing your name in print is genuinely, really exciting) because then it would seem redundant, but consider this a tribute to my classmates of 6M of year 2007. Thank you people for giving me wonderful memories alike this to cherish forever.