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Birthday at Carleton!

Fátima celebrates turning 20 far from home but with good friends.

Fátima celebrates turning 20 far from home but with good friends.

Happy [belated] birthday to me!!

About a month ago, I turned 20! This birthday is a pretty big milestone as I officially leave teenagehood and go on full adult mode (or so I keep telling myself). This was not my first time celebrating a birthday away from home and family, and I know that this can be as exciting of a change as it can be scary. So, hopefully by sharing my experience, you will be more enthusiastic about your own college birthday!


At my previous school, it was pretty much tradition to wake up the birthday person at midnight, blindfold them, and walk them to the amphitheater or another common space, where friends, a cake, and a birthday card would usually be waiting for them.

My friends and I watching the American Football game
Throwback to us not knowing what was going on at the game.

Carleton, on the other hand, does not have such a tradition. Birthdays are celebrated in a variety of different ways. For instance, you might remember from my fall post that for my friend Quan’s birthday we had lunch at El Triunfo (a delightful Mexican restaurant in town) and then watched our first-ever American football game. Yet, birthday celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. Some celebrate off campus, some throw parties in their dorms’ lounges, and others, like me, prefer to keep it low-key.

A low-key (yet fun!) birthday

A drawing of some balloons and a Happy Birhtday wish
My friends decorated the walls outside my room!

My birthday was Friday of the second week. I woke up later than I should have to a beautiful mural that my friends had painted overnight outside my room (Myers‘ walls can be decorated with dry erase markers!). After attending convocation by the awe-inspiring Kao Kalia Yang ’03 and going to class, I treated myself to lunch at Sayles Café. Then, I headed to the Libe to finish some homework before retiring to my room, so I could answer friends’ messages and call my parents and family.

The true celebration, however, didn’t start until dinner time. My friend, Liwei, a fantastic cook, made dinner for us all! It was fun to slow down and hang out without worrying about academics or being pushed by our hectic schedules. Dinner was followed by my friend Quan’s exquisite cheesecake, a day-long enterprise that definitely paid off! Fun fact: I had never had a birthday cheesecake before!

As per my request, we closed the evening with some popcorn and a viewing of Disney’s Encanto (a movie I HIGHLY recommend. The soundtrack became an instant addiction for me) at Nourse Hall. A birthday makes the perfect excuse to force your friends to have fun with the things you love!

Me at a playground in Minneapolis
Growing old does not [always] mean growing up.

Turning 20 (I’m old!)

This was my third birthday outside of Guatemala. While every year I have been blessed with amazing people to celebrate it with, it is always a little nostalgic to acknowledge how much I am growing up (and growing old) away from my family and country. While I expected twenty to be a big thing, it really was just like any other birthday—in the best way possible!

With friends that range in age from barely 18 to almost 21, I have never felt neither old nor young at Carleton. My age is rarely anything but a number on a couple of official documents, and while I believe birthdays should absolutely be celebrated, I am glad we did not make a big deal out of it! After all, it doesn’t matter how old you turn as long as you do so with the people you care about, and who care about you too.

Fátima 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!