With my twenty-second birthday coming up, I decided to write about how different having a birthday at college can be, away from my family. Last year, I ended up doing some things with my roommates and then having the rest of the day to myself. It was definitely different than what I had experienced before, so if there are any transfers or freshmen out there who want to know what to expect, or just people interested in my take about Birthday’s and college, this one is for you.
- You don’t wake up to presents.
While every family is different, my family usually gives birthday presents in the morning before going to school or work. When you’re at college though, you don’t usually wake up to presents. In fact, unless you have friends at school who give presents or have packages delivered on the day of your birthday, you may not see a single physical birthday present all day. Although, your parents may add some money in your bank account for your birthday.
- No one buys you a cake.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never seen anyone get cake at college for their birthday, at least not a traditional sheet cake. Maybe if the person in particular is having some big birthday party there will be cake; but unless you have friends who want to surprise you with one, you’ll probably eat some other dessert for your birthday or have to buy your own cake.
- You pay more attention to phone calls and Facebook posts.
We all have relatives or friends who call us on our birthday to sing to us, or just wish us a happy day. We have also become accustomed to seeing tons of Facebook messages from friends and relatives. Some post something long and emotional, and others just a simple “Happy Birthday.” When you are living away from home though, these posts and calls become even more significant because they may be the only “Happy Birthday” wishes you get other than a few people at school. Also, having your family or a friend from home call or text you on your birthday, instead of being with you on your birthday may be a strange occurrence, but it’s also something you’ll have to get used to.
- No one will know it’s your birthday, unless you tell them.
If you have a lot of friends in class, then this may not apply; but you most likely won’t be hearing a lot of “Happy Birthday” messages on campus or in class. As you get older, the education system seems to care less and less about your birthday. This is especially true when you are a college student and it is your birthday. Depending on the classes you go to and the professors you have, you could go entire day without anyone saying or mentioning anything about your birthday (unless you tell them of course.) This could be something you experienced in high school too, but it depends on how many friends you had in class, what they were like on your birthday, and even just the culture of your high school. However, if you are used to a lot of in-person birthday well wishes at home, it may be different when you’re away at college.
- You make the plans now.
This change can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. When you were younger and living at home, your parents or friends may have taken you out for a birthday dinner; or someone would at least plan something special for your birthday. When you are at school though, if you want to do something special for your birthday, you’ll have to plan it for yourself. Maybe because of so much course work, you won’t be able to go out until the following weekend. Or maybe your birthday involves going to a bar for the first time (if your 21 or over,) rather than a restaurant with your family. Or maybe even having family visit you for your birthday will be a new experience. Whatever the case may be, you’ll probably be in charge of organizing it and planning it, and this can be fun or stressful depending on the type of person you are and your life. But one thing for sure is it will probably be a change from living at home.
A lot of people may have similarities and differences when celebrating birthdays, but one thing’s for sure: you should be prepared for things to be at least somewhat different celebrating away at college.