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Meeting Carls and Being a Carl!

Who is a Carl? Let me break it down to you what it's like being a Carl and being with Carls. After reading this, I can bet you'll wanna be one too!

Who is a Carl? Let me break it down to you what it's like being a Carl and being with Carls. After reading this, I can bet you'll wanna be one too!

Hi! My name is Lita, hailing all the way from Cambodia and a freshy at Carleton this fall 2019! Let’s be real, I can do all the intros I want and make this about myself, but hey, that’s what the bio is for.

For this blog, what I really want to share with you is my 3-week discovery about what makes Carls…Carls! Come take an e-walk with me.

International Student Orientation (ISO)

ISO was an amazing five days of get-to-know-you between new international students, the wonderful Orientation Peer Leaders (OPLs) and the Office of International and Intercultural Life (OIIL) staff!

As any normal freshman, there was a tinge of excitement and nervousness. Will I find friends? Will I be able to manage academics, extracurriculars, and all the new cool things I want to do here?!

OPLs to the rescue! Jamie, Arya, Ana, Manya, Rudra among many other OPLs became more than just names I have to remember. They’ve become mentors, figuratively and literally! (There’s even a program that I signed up for to have an OPL as my mentor!)

Me: “I don’t know if I’ll find good friends… how was it for you guys?”

OPLs: “Hey, take it easy. It’s been two days. You will be fine!”

“There are many opportunities to make friends, from your classes and extracurricular activities to the many on-campus and off-campus events.”

“Even if you’re reluctant to come out of your room or dorm, there will still be your roommates and dorm mates!”

“And if all that isn’t enough for you β€” there’s still us haha!”

I teared up a bit, it was very cute.

Also, we had a jam-packed schedule β€” from inescapable logistics and legal procedures to the more fun times of homemade ice cream social, movie nights, and a trip to the biggest mall in America β€” Mall of America (It had a whole amusement park inside).

We didn’t realize, but little by little we became less shy and more comfortable in the presence of one another. Don’t believe me? Look at these cute pictures! πŸ™‚

New Student Week (NSW)

After ISO, there was NSW when all the freshmen came to campus and we started our packed week full of all kinds of activities.

Some of the most memorable ones were:

Frisbee Throw where we each got a Frisbee specially designed for the class of 2023! (Frisbee is a big thing here at Carleton! You’ll very much find Carls casually throwing Frisbees around campus when the weather allows!). On the first day of NSW, all the freshman named their Frisbees, gathered around the field, and threw the Frisbees as far as they could! We then would go pick up a different Frisbee and try to return it to its rightful owners β€” and that’s how we find cool friends too!

Nolympics!Β where each floor competes for having the best themed-dressed up! My floormates and I dressed up as the set from Jaws! There were some pretty funny activities as well, involving a Spiderman Cow throwing cones at you, or trying to put on a frozen balled-up T-shirt! I mean if that isn’t convincing enough, go check out the full blog post about it! I was very lucky to have an amazing RA (Residence Assistant), Shane, who led us, motivated us, and successfully, I might say, orchestrated our “Jaws” routine performance to go with our theme.

First Week

After a heavy-packed orientation, we were all excited and ready for classes. Now, through high school we’ve all had good and not-so-good experiences with teachers. There were always those who wowed us beyond comprehension and those who confused us beyond comprehension. So I was prepared and expected that, at college, nothing can be perfect can it? Nope, but it sure felt amazing to love all my professors and classes!

I lied β€” I said this won’t be about me, but here’s a blurb. I’m taking Intro to Computer Science, Digital Foundations, and Drama, Film & Society. For each and every class, I was hooked in the first lecture/session!

I mean take this, for example: my CS professor, Sneha, came into our first class with a Trader Joe’s bag full of peanut butter jelly sandwich ingredients.

gri “Okay! So, here lies the ingredients to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich. I want you all to quickly jot down an algorithm β€” a recipe, for me who is your obeying computer to create this peanut butter jelly sandwich. Go!”

It was a true taste of the degree of detail and precision that an algorithm needs to be. I mean it became clear when she tore the package of bread which flung pieces of it all over the table, and even one fell to the ground β€” when a classmate went “Open the bag of bread.” We were on the edge of our seats.

Sneha said: “You never specified where on the package, how and which hands to use, and what to expect. Thus β€” this is what I can give you!”

What a class!

The other two courses didn’t disappoint either, I promise you!

Second Week

Yes, the first week was super exciting, but then the assignments and homework started flooding in the second week.

That was when the true test of “Carls help Carls!” came.

Part of being a college student is to learn how to manage your time well. There’s time for yourself, friends, academics and extracurricular activities. The key to a fruitful college experience lies there, I would say.

As a clueless freshman trying to navigate the world of college, I admit I was struggling a bit. However, it was very brief because I realized one special thing about Carleton is that I am not limited to being friends with just my year group. Upperclassmen are open to help you, whether it’s debugging your Rock Paper Scissors Python program assignment for CS,Β  making a huge bowl of spaghetti and amazing quesadillas for you, or creating an amazing flower crown for you as you figure out your college routine.

Shout out to John, Yoshiko, Dasha, Sally, Jackie, Kellen, Jack, Reed! They are just some of my amazing upperclassmen.

They’ve been through this, they know the challenges, and they are here for you! Don’t be intimidated! I came to really appreciate my seniors, juniors, and sophomores, not just my fellow freshmen!

Well, that’s it for now! I hope these anecdotes have given you exciting insights into the journey of Lita, the tiny Cambodian freshman as she navigates Carleton!

Contact me at and feel free to ask me about my experiences at Carleton and more.

What does it mean to be a Carl to you? #carlshelpcarls

Lita hails all the way from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. When not riding horses, petting them, or sketching a picture of them, she blogs her philosophical brain dumps on Medium. Other than that, Lita is passionate about social impact startups and edu-tech. She plans on majoring in Computer Science, but who knows, she could simply switch to Studio Art and spend her days drawing horses. Hey, that’s why we’re at Carleton, am I right? Meet the other bloggers!

international students taking a selfie

Our very fun ice-cream social!


Our Class of 2023 Frisbees!


A sunny day walk!

A person with a stuffed animal sitting on a chair

My Bahamian friend Alicia, ft. Cambodian flag

spaghetti bowl and a person with chopstick

Kellen and a big bowl of spaghetti

a group of students planting trees

My new student week group planting trees in the Arb!

People laying on the grass

My New Student Week Group watching our first soccer game together! Carleton women soccer won!

picture of a girl with a flower crown

Dasha, my sophomore made me a flower crown to raise my mood!

after soccer practice photo

After soccer club practice!

group of students posing for photo in a room

Our OPLs and the international freshmen!

two guys and a girl taking photo

My Indian and Ukrainian friends!

girl walking

Northfield is a cute little town!

gathering of people

International Student gathering

Girl sitting on a college sign post

Me on Carleton College sign

two girls hugging in a green field

Chiamaka and me at the extracurricular fair!