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What I Learned From Having My Birthday 5 Days After Moving Into College

My birthday is on August 31st, so I knew before I applied to college that there was a good chance I wouldn’t be at home for my 18th birthday. However, once I got into BU and found out that move-in day was September 1st, there was suddenly an option that I could spend at least part of my birthday with my friends and family. My plans changed again when, on a whim, I decided to take part in FYSOP, which is BU’s version of a pre-orientation program (even though we had completed orientation over the summer). The move-in day for FYSOP was August 27th, five days before my birthday, which meant that I would definitely not be home or with my family on the day.

I had birthday dinners with my family and my friends before I left, which was great because I was able to combine saying goodbye to my closest friends with celebrating my birthday.

I felt so homesick the whole week leading up to Friday the 31st. I felt like it wouldn’t be a special day when I wasn’t with my family or my pets or any of my close friends from home. My parents had actually given me a birthday card that I wasn’t allowed to open until my birthday and I remember almost bursting into tears every time I looked at it.

What ended up happening on my birthday was so much better than I ever expected. My FYSOP group was so happy that it was my birthday and that they could be with me on it. My leaders got us all donuts, they sang happy birthday to me multiple times throughout the day, and they basically treated me like royalty. They knew that I was apprehensive about being away from home so they wanted to make sure that I knew how loved I was.

I called my parents in the morning after not talking to them for the whole week because I didn’t want to cry when I talked to them. I realized that, even though I wasn’t home, them wishing me a happy birthday over the phone and being able to read their card made me feel like I was with them, even if it was only for a few minutes.

I had made close friends throughout the week, and they helped coordinate a special cupcake delivery through my mom that they gave to me at the end of the day, along with candy and other little gifts. It may seem like the smallest gesture but it made me feel so special and I remember thinking how grateful I was to already have made friends who wanted to make my first birthday away from home a little bit better.


The moral of the story is that, while being away from home on your birthday for the first time can be weird, scary, and different, surrounding yourself with people who love you and want you to have the best day imaginable can make your birthday a different kind of wonderful. For me, it was definitely unconventional, but I honestly cannot think of a better way to have spent my 18th birthday.


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Sophie is a freshman from Chicago—the city, NOT the suburbs—majoring in Public Relations at Boston University. She'll probably make you feel like you're the world's greatest comedian because she tends to laugh at anything anyone says. When she's not writing for HC, you can find her at SoulCycle, watching The Bachelor, or eating chocolate chip cookies.
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