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    Read about Amber, Eli, Faye, Jack, and Tamar's experiences at Luther!

My First Birthday Abroad

My birthday was on the Thursday before Easter break. I remember getting a lot of notifications from the Mail Center that day. My parents were the first ones to wish me happy birthday in the morning (I actually thought they were going to be the last ones to do so!). They also ordered some flowers from a florist in Decorah and a cake from the Women’s Club. I wasn’t all that lonely. The Diversity Center and my RA gave me packets of chocolates which was sweet of them, and one of my friends from Wartburg bought me a penny board! It was a pleasant surprise, seeing that I really thought no one actually remembered my birthday. Despite that, the day wasn’t all that great because my two closest friends were nowhere to be found. They did not have classes on that day, which was weird, so they should've been free. I wanted to go for a walk with them but they were nowhere to be found in their rooms or at any of the regular places they usually hang out at. I was really disappointed, but I decided to brush it off and went to go try out my new penny board for awhile instead.

The one thing I dislike most about birthdays is that you can't help feeling SUPER vulnerable on that very day. It's like you do not want too much attention from the celebration but at the same time you high-key hope that all your loved ones remember it as well. It's frustrating sometimes because you find yourself in a position to not want to blame them for not remembering your day but at the same time you cannot help feeling disappointed if they don't.

Anyway, about a half hour passed, I was suddenly approached by one of my closest friends, Warsan. I was surprised and definitely happy to see her. She told me she just got out of work, so she asked me out for a walk to relax a little from the day. I was thankful the day was beautiful, and spending time with her was all I could ask for on this day. We headed to the caf for dinner shortly and then back to Ylvi. We were going to a bonfire that night at Baker Village, so we got ready. Warsan then brought me down to the Ylvi lounge because she left her phone in there, and all of a sudden…

“SURPRISE! Happy birthday, Faye and Rupak!”

I immediately froze! I couldn’t believe this. All of my friends whom I did not get a chance to see on that day were all here in that very room. Before I could say anything, one of my friends holding the cake brought it close to my friend, Rupak, and I. They sang the birthday song for us and we blew out the candles together. What a surprise it was! There were also plenty of food prepared on the table for all of us—rice, chicken curry, pad thai, fried eggs, and lentils dhal—a diverse taste of cuisines from all my international friends. Rupak and I then cut slices of cakes and fed people with them. We later on had a feast together in the lounge.

After everyone was finished, we cleaned up and headed over to Baker Village. It was quite a hike up the hill before we reached our bonfire spot. We finally arrived and found that some of our friends had already started the fire. We all then circled the fireplace, played some music, and shared some snacks. There, my two closest friends told me about all that they had planned for the day and apparently, they knew it was my birthday all along. They told me about how they sent Warsan to distract me while I was skating with my penny board, because they were just in the Ylvi lounge preparing for everything. They were also teasing me about how upset and mad I was the whole day (which I was but of course I denied it—LOL). It was a great ending to an eventful day.

All in all, I guess that Thursday made me realize that I’m not at all alone in this big country and that you can find home in a person, or two, or more. To everyone who has made that day a little more than amazing, thank you. I love you guys.

Until then,



Faye Lee

Faye Lee

Faye Lee is a sophomore from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is majoring in Political Science and International Studies. Faye is involved in Gospel Choir for almost a year now and is also on the road to become a big sister in Beta Theta Omega, a women leadership group on campus that emphasizes the development of leadership qualities in women through social work and get-togethers. She loves the remote location of Luther and "dabbing" while working in the Caf salad line.

Read more about Faye.

View all posts
A lovely bouquet of flowers from my parents.
My very first penny board from a special someone!
Rupak and I celebrating our first birthday abroad together (and for the next four years to come...)
A great bonfire night!

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