Anyone who has known me for a long time knows how much I love my birthday. One of my best friends, who I’ve known pretty much my whole life, has a birthday at the end of January, so as soon as hers passed, the countdown for my own would begin, leading to the incessant daily update;


“Only 99 days until my birthday now!”


With this came the inevitable task of party planning. With military precision, I would organize parties to the local bowling alley or swimming pool. One year my parents had to deal with the whole of Mrs Runcorn’s Year 2 class running around their back garden, hyped up on birthday cake and clutching cheese and pineapple on sticks. We had a climbing frame with one of these bad boys


which served to provide hours of entertainment.


I’ve calmed down somewhat now, and I have a much greater appreciation for other peoples birthdays rather than my own, a concept which was lost on me as a child. I’m not at all concerned with presents any more either, as long as I get to speak to or hear from the people I care about. For me the opportunity to come out travelling and exploring is probably the greatest gift I could have been given. I do still love a good party though, and although I may not have a climbing frame anymore, I was looking forward to celebrating my birthday with food, drink and friends.


Luckily, I was able to do exactly that. In America my birth date marks a nationwide celebration known as “Cinco de Mayo” (spanish for simply The 5th May). The date commemorates the victory of the Mexican army against France at the 1862 ‘Battle of Puebla’ during the Franco-Mexican War. Although supposedly a minor holiday in Mexico itself, in the USA the anniversary of the battle has come to be regarded as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. The date became known as an established annual celebration in the 1960s. It is not a bank holiday, so we didn’t get a day off school, but every year there are festivals and parades with traditional music, dancing and food on the day itself and the weekend leading up to it.


That’s the tradition behind it anyway. When you go to college though, anything goes if it means there’s an excuse for a party or two. Nicknamed “Cinco de Drinko” the whole weekend was a blur of night parties, day ragers, flip cup, music and stick-on mexican mustaches. The sun was shining and I was able to spend the whole weekend surrounded by friends.


The day of my birthday, after opening my cards with a cup of tea and a morning skype with my parents, I went to my friend’s flat where I was surprised with cadbury’s chocolate, friendship bracelets and a homemade red velvet cake, candles and all. The three of us have become really close since moving out here, and I actually think they were just as excited about my birthday as I was- which is definitely saying something.

21 was a great year. The year I moved to America, experienced spring break in Mexico, skiing in Lake Tahoe, drove down the 101 on the Californian coast. With less than a month left in San Jose and my third and final year of university fast approaching, 22 looks set to be pretty eventful too.