As a travelin’ woman, I’m proud to say that I have never spent New Year’s Eve at home during my time in college. My first year, I spent time in Overland Park, Kan., with a friend from school, along with her friends from home. Second year, I was on a flight to Israel when the clock struck midnight. Third year, my high school friends and I watched the ball drop from Milwaukee, Wis.
Even with all these amazing experiences, I must say that my senior year New Year’s Eve was by far the most memorable. I mean, not everyone can say they watched fireworks from the beach in Guatemala.
My best friend, Camila Alarcon ’08, is from the beautiful Central American country of Guatemala. We’ve been friends since the end of our first year. Ever since we met, she has been on my case about coming to visit her during a break. I was finally able to save up enough to go this past winter break, and the trip was well worth the wait. I’m from a suburb of Chicago, and the day I left the weather in the Windy City was abysmal. I’m talking wind, sleet, and snow that even a postal worker wouldn’t tolerate. Arriving in warm, breezy Guatemala City was the perfect remedy for wintertime blues.
I spent two weeks with Camila and her family in Guatemala this winter break. Apart from the fantastic New Year’s on the beach, we did everything from tanning on the beach and watching the waves roll in off the Pacific Ocean, to climbing ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal, to exploring crypts in 17th-century cathedrals in Antigua. I ate traditional Guatemalan food (and would recommend the beans to anyone), fed crocodiles part of my breakfast, and danced in clubs in La Zona Vive. It was a perfect vacation. Her family and friends were so welcoming (and a bit impressed that I knew un poco de español), that I felt completely comfortable and at home. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to go! It was a great opportunity to not only meet the family and friends of someone I had known for four years, but also to experience a culture and lifestyle completely different from anything I knew growing up in Glencoe, Ill.
That’s probably the best part about going to Grinnell. The students here are able to learn not only inside the classroom, but also from people they encounter in the dining hall, at the various parties around campus, and from the friends they make during their four years here. If I hadn’t gone to Grinnell, I never would have met so many diverse and amazing people and gotten the opportunity to learn so much and expand my worldview. It just goes to show that the people you meet can take you on adventures you never even imagined!
Stephanie Rosenbaum '08 is a Spanish major from Glencoe, Illinois.