11 Tips for Birthdays Abroad

My 26th Birthday in a hostel in Santiago, Chile

By @cathiegomez

Why is it that even alone we insist on celebrating our birthdays? On having our existence and state of being alive acknowledged by those around us? I don’t understand the phenomena but I do feel it’s pressure. It’s my day, and I shall do as I hedonistically please. A Lesson I learned long ago to not be disappointed on my birthday was to always plan it myself. This day, to me consists of eating all my favorite foods and spending hours doing very little with my favorite people. To avoid getting unbearbly pathetically sad on this particular day, celebrate it at all costs!! The beautiful thing about a university exchange trip is that you are caged together abroad with your peers. So take care of eachother!! Learn your new friends birthdays and set an alarm to not forget. If you have the means throw a party for them or for yourself so everyone can enjoy. In the little petri dish of your exchange existence all the normal dynamics are hightened. You learn quickly that while everyone looks fine, you’re all simultaneaously loving and suffering through this experience.


Here is a checklist to have a blast on your birthday:


  1. Decorations: If you live in a large community house there is probably a closet with a stock pile of items that have been left behind. See if you can have a swap with the items or create a weird theme.
  2. Alcohol: Ask people to byob. Legal drinking age is ussually 18.
  3. Food: Making food together is always more fun!!
  4. Music: If you don’t have a decent speaker, group message to find one. Also if you have an outside and inside space, plan accordingly
  5. Dress Code: DRESS UP!!! Even if it’s only you, look amazing. (Dressing up, doesn’t meaning wearing something out of character. It just means looking your best, whatever that means to you.) You will get more pics of yourself and you’ll feel confident to host.
  6. Drugs: Marijuana is legal in many places and it’s also less likely to be tampered with, for a party you can provide a number but don’t spend your own money on quantity.
  7. Ice: Buy enough supplies including ice before the store closes.
  8. Uber: Abroad ussually no one has their own car, but don’t skimp out on calling an uber for a friend if they insist on leaving.
  9. Beds: For those that stay the night plan on extra sleeping arrangements like sleeping bags, mattresses, and bed buddies.
  10. Chaparones: There are always friends that drink very little or not at all, speak to them ahead of time to keep an eye on a specific thing. Parties are big crazy events so they can’t watch everything and everyone, so pick something like the door.
  11. Group text: Lastly have everyone on a group text to drop photos into to laugh about together the next day 🙂

– Cat

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