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20 Days–Or an Entire Lifetime?

Fátima writes about her exciting introduction to Carleton!

Fátima writes about her exciting introduction to Carleton!


Has it really been just 20 days?

I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a mere month ago, I was still back home, packing for college and imagining what it would be like once I got there.

From the moment I stepped off my plane at the Minneapolis airport, my life has been a non-stop heap of intense moments and experiences (in the best possible way). Every day I meet someone new, discover a new route from my residence to the Libe, or learn the meaning of one of our many (no, really, there are a lot!) acronyms. These past 20ish days have been hectic to say the least, but they have shown me what my life will be like for the next four years. And it is truly exciting.

International Student Orientation and New Student Week!

NSW Group 9
NSW Group 9 (there’s me!)

I have gotten so used to navigating Sayles and finding my way to the Rec Center that it is easy to forget that just a couple of weeks ago, I was getting lost at every turn. (In fairness, I still get lost. Just not at every turn.)

We had three days of International Student Orientation (ISO), including the day most of us arrived for the first time on campus. Although most of our time was spent going from lecture to lecture about all of the bureaucratic implications of holding a student visa, ISO was so much fun!

I felt so comfortable interacting with fellow international students who, like me, were afraid of the extreme winter or had no idea what Fahrenheit is. Getting to know the campus and each other before the rest of the students arrived helped me feel more confident that I belong here.

New Student Week (NSW) directly followed ISO. Domestic students began moving in really early in the morning, and suddenly the campus population went from dozens to several hundred. The mood shift was almost instantaneous, and I cannot deny that I was quite overwhelmed. It didn’t take long for me to warm up to newcomers, however, and get excited all over again about making new friends.

On the first day of NSW, I got to have lunch with my amazing roommate and her parents, who were very kind to me. We then went on to meet our respective NSW groups. I was lucky enough to be in Group #9 (see picture above!), which was lead by two incredible sophomores. After the mandatory Carleton introductions (name, pronouns, class and major, hometown, and ALWAYS a random fact), we got to hear from the Dean of Students, the Carleton Student Association (CSA) President, and the College’s President, who, like us, is new this year.

We then all moved to the Mini Bald Spot for the Frisbee Toss, the first of many Carleton traditions we were introduced to. Each of us got a frisbee, designed specifically for our class, which we threw in a quasi-synchronized manner. Then the real fun began! We picked up a random frisbee, and then looked for the person it belonged to in order to return it, hopefully making a new friend in the process!

Frisbee Tossing at the Mini Bald Spot
Class of 2025 Frisbee Tossing on Move-in Day

The frisbee I picked up belonged to Anne. It took me a couple of days to work up the courage to walk to Musser (on the other side of campus!) and knock on her door, but it was absolutely worth it! As if it was predestined, it turns out Anne is half-Guatemalan! I couldn’t have been happier to find someone else that relates to my culture, and it was nice to know that I am not completely alone in that sense after all.

The rest of NSW was just as packed. We were coming and going from Carl Talks, special lunches, academic fairs, and everything else a new student might need to survive at Carleton. I think I must have introduced myself a couple of dozen times in the span of a few days and learned (and forgotten) double the names. By the end of it, I knew the way to Goodhue like the back of my hand, had made some friends from my floor, and met my work supervisor.

After an exhausting week of adapting, without a second to breathe, we jumped right into the main event:

The first weeks of classes

Contrary to my expectations, my return to student life was nothing but natural. Even if it hasn’t always been super smooth, getting back to a regular and busy schedule has felt like coming home. I have slowly discovered the fastest route between classes, the best time to have lunch, and the best places to study.

Although the adjustment has occasionally been challenging, it has also been quite fulfilling. I am enjoying all of my classes, and cannot wait to continue exploring what Carleton has to offer.


Fátima is a self-proclaimed professional learner. She strives to learn everything about everything, but is especially interested in Sociology/AnthropologyPsychology, and Disney! As a freshman, she can’t wait to introduce her peers to her native Guatemalan culture, put in practice her newly acquired ASL skills, and play in the snow for the first time. In her free time, Fátima can be found watching cartoons, poorly playing the ukulele, or desperately missing her dog, Cosmo. Meet the other bloggers!