Celebrating a birthday is always an enjoyable occasion no matter where you may be, but celebrating a birthday while studying abroad in Italy is quite simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can tell you this for a fact, as I celebrated my 21st birthday here last Tuesday. While not having my family and friends from home here to celebrate with me as usual was a bit sad, being able to spend my birthday with all of the new friends I’ve made here really did make for an absolutely amazing and unique experience.
Luckily for me, I was able to start my birthday celebrations early at our second formal dinner, which was held on Monday night at the Barbesin Ristorante in the nearby town of Castelfranco. The atmosphere was cozy and authentic, and it was fun to see everyone looking fancy and dressed up for the occasion. And the food? It was easily the most amazing birthday dinner I’ve ever eaten – and quite possibly one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten in general!
For me, the best part of the night occurred just before the dessert course (and not just because I was so excited to eat it). It just so happened to be the birthday of one of my classmates, Noah, on Tuesday as well, and after all of the plates had been cleared, the lights were dimmed and we were both told to stand up. As soon as we rose, the entire room erupted in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” – and I could not stop smiling. Once the song had ended, the crowd applauded, and I was greeted by a waiter holding my dessert: a glass full of melted chocolate topped with graham cracker cookies and whipped cream. Not a birthday cake, no, but so much better.
The next day, I was greeted with a “Happy birthday!” by almost everyone I met, and I even received another performance of “Happy Birthday” – this time sung in Italian by the students in my Italian for Travelers class. The choruses of “Tanti auguri a ti!” (“Happy birthday to you!”) made me feel so special, as did basically everything about the day. I was taken aback by how many people took the time to wish me well and make the day a festive one, and I feel incredibly grateful for the fact that even though I may have been thousands of miles away from home, the people with whom I spent my birthday this year made it one of the best I’ve ever had.