Birthdays can be an important part of life when you are in college. While I have never made a huge deal about my birthday, it’s been important to me that I get to celebrate with my friends and my family always uses it as an excuse to visit since we don’t get to see each other often. I know that many other people feel this way, so it can be difficult when your birthday falls during your time abroad.
My birthday was on March 4th, which was a little over a month and a half into my study abroad trip. As excited as I was about being able to celebrate in a foreign country and the experiences I would get to have, I couldn’t help being just a little upset that I would have to celebrate without the people who were most important to me, especially when my roommate made a comment about planning my party during fall semester and I had to remind her I would be gone. Thinking about the time difference and the difficulties in making any sort of plans with my friends left me with just a little bit of sadness surrounding my birthday, but I was determined to still have a good time.
Everyone tells you when you’re getting ready to leave that the friends you make during your time abroad will be some of the people you get closest to in college, but you don’t really realize how true that is until you go. My birthday this year was one of the best times I’ve had because I was surrounded by people who, by that point, I was incredibly close to and were extremely important to me, and who showed me I was important to them as well. When we got to where we were staying during our trip to Andalucía I found out my friends and my program director had planned a small celebration for my birthday at the hotel we were staying at, and made sure to place me at the head of the table while we ate dinner. It was at that point that I realized it didn’t matter if the people I was celebrating with were the people I had always celebrated with, all that mattered is that I had a good time with people who are important to me. My friends from the united states still called and texted, my family still FaceTimed me, but I now had a new group of people who would celebrate with me.
This biggest piece of advice I can offer is to make the most of your time abroad, and if you end up having a birthday while you’re gone, let it be a new opportunity to make a great memory with great people.