Never in my life did I think I would celebrate my 20th birthday away from home, much less outside of the country. As much as I would have enjoyed to have my family and friends around, I cannot say it was not a unique experience turning 20 in South Africa.  My friends took me shopping to one of Durban’s well-known malls. After shopping, I had a taste of traditional South African Braai, also known as BBQ. One of the students I met while studying here insisted on throwing me a party, so he welcomed me and all my classmates to his house for BBQ…I still cannot get over how loving and welcoming every single African I’ve met has been.

Spending my birthday in a beautiful city with loving people helped me forget about my sadness of reaching my “milestone” birthday. Of course many people make fun of me when I talk about feeling old and how much I wish I did not have to turn 20; however, all  I have to say is 20 may not mean I have aged, but it means I am no longer a teenager, and more important it is much closer to the age most people start accumulating big responsibilities – finding a real job, getting married, owning a house and all the other obligations I am not looking forward to at this time.

I just want to continue enjoying SMU and not have to worry about big responsibilities anytime soon.  I cannot imagine a life outside of SMU or the amazing experiences it has brought, such as this opportunity to study abroad and interact with people who come from different backgrounds and nationalities, while taking both challenging and intriguing courses.  Basically, SMU has blessed me in more ways than I can imagine, so of course I am not looking forward to any age that gets me closer to graduation.