I just celebrated my 20th birthday, and –– dare I say –– it was one of the best ones I’ve had so far. In the past, I’ve normally spent half of my birthday with family and the other half with friends. Since Sacramento (my hometown) is so far away and I wasn’t able to plan a trip up there in time, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my family this year. It saddened me, but I pushed through like the adult I pretend to be. A few weeks in advance, I made loose plans with some friends of all the random activities I wanted to do during the weekend marking the twentieth anniversary of my birth. These friends have become like sisters to me, so I knew whatever we did would be hype.

The day before my actual birthday, three friends of mine went out to, which is about fifteen minutes from campus. My friend told our waitress that it was my birthday to which she responded, “Oh! We’ve got a party for you.” She handed each of us bows that lit up. As you can tell from the photo above, we were far too excited.

Towards the end of our meal, the lights in the restaurant dimmed and music started playing. Out came the restaurant staff in party hats, and, with tambourines in hand, they chanted “Happy Birthday!” to the music. I must say it was one of the most shocking yet delightful experiences I’ve had. My friends and I could not stop laughing. I highly recommend that you stop by Meiga Sushi if you visit Biola. It’s quite an electric atmosphere.

Later that night, we bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and went back to campus to watch a movie. A few other girls from our floor joined us, and we put on face masks and watched The Prince of Egypt (classic) and Jesus Christ Superstar (another classic) in our lounge area, also known as The Living Room. That night and early morning was filled with laughter, singing, and dancing as we made ridiculous faces in our hardened clay masks.

Though I do miss my family, my birthday weekend really showed me how loved I am by the family I have here at Biola. The group of girls that I get to call my neighbors have uplifted and encouraged me more than I can describe. They are a reminder of all the blessings God has showered on me in just these few, short months I’ve been here. So as I enter this next year, my goal is to be intentional about building up and pouring into my fellow Biolans, the way they have poured into my life.