Happy Happy Birthday, From All My Finals to Me
How to cope with having your birthday fall during finals week.
By Elizabeth Rourk, University of New Haven
My now-roommate and I hit it off the first time we talked on Facebook, and were thrilled when we found out our birthdays were just a day apart.
Like any college freshmen, we had big plans to party with our friends the night between our birthdays, until we realized that for all four years of college our birthdays would fall in the midst of finals week. Halfway through college and neither of us have ever taken shots, partied or spent the day anywhere besides the library or an exam room on our special day. While having a birthday during finals week may take the fun out of a traditional birthday in college, it definitely makes for an interesting day.
Last year, because it was our first year of college and we were still determined to make our birthdays special, my roommate and I got enough studying done early in the day and went out to dinner each day. We planned to do that again this year, but as we get further into college, finals week seems to become more of a struggle.
The night before my birthday this year I was sitting in bed, desperately trying to finish a take-home final before the clock struck twelve, when my friends busted through the door with an ice cream cake.
As they sang happy birthday and cut the cake, I was still trying to figure out how to draft a contract for the last part of my final.
Between this and the lack of sleep that inevitably comes along every finals week, I was essentially hearing “Happy birthday to – the plurality of such as defined below – “you, happy” – paid in part three weeks before the performance – “birthday to you, happy birthday dear” – contract must be finalized no less than six weeks prior to the event – “Katie and Liz, happy birthday to you!” Not exactly the traditional happy birthday, but I’ll take it.
I will admit, having my last final due at 11:59 PM the day before my birthday was truly the best present I could ask for, because it meant I got to spend my birthday studying-free, which is more than I can say for my roommate. On her birthday, we woke up, went to the library, and well, that was it.
Her birthday dinner consisted of chips and salsa we had brought in our backpacks, coffee from the nearby café, and cupcakes a friend surprised her with while we sat in the library for ten consecutive hours. Since there is a certain level of bonding that occurs while trapped in the library basement, nearly everyone there wished her a happy birthday.
While I was lucky enough to avoid having to spend my birthday in the library, I didn’t get to completely avoid the curse of having a birthday during finals week. Since finals week means the semester has come to an end, it’s also the time of year to pack up and move out. There are few things I hate more than packing, so I had the best intentions possible to pack up my room ahead of time so that I could spend my birthday doing anything but. However, since I am incapable of doing anything until the last possible second, you can probably guess what I ended up spending my day doing.
Since packing a college dorm requires many, many, trips to the dumpster to get rid of papers that have accumulated, food that is probably well past it’s expiration date, and everything else that won’t fit in the car, you run into a lot of people on the way. Somewhere between running into one friend that lives down the hall that says happy birthday and the dumpster, it seems everyone and their mother (literally, since it’s one of the only times of year parents are on a college campus), has said happy birthday to you. Maybe it’s not having the same as having a restaurant sing to you with drums and free ice cream, but it’s a pleasant surprise while lugging out that last Hefty bag.
While studying and packing are not how I would choose to spend my birthday, I’ve learned not to completely despise these activities.
The part of my birthday for the past two years that I can’t stand is that people always start moving out on that day. I’m terrible at saying goodbye, and saying goodbye to someone after they wake up early to go buy a cake for you when they have a final to be studying for is even harder.
As much as having finals may take the enjoyment out of what a party in college is supposed to be, I wouldn’t change it. Because having friends who care enough to put aside studying for a while to make sure you have a great day is really what a good birthday is made of. And hey, I’ll have plenty of birthdays to take birthday shots after I graduate—even though it’s probably a little sad to partake in that tradition once you’re off a college campus.
So for everyone that has their birthday during the one-week a year every college kid dreads, let’s remember the ways our birthdays are special. My roommate and I have been lucky enough to celebrate our birthdays at school, and celebrate them at home a few days after since they’re so close to the end of the year. Even though we didn’t get to have big special dinners, sitting around our room trying to finish the Cheetos, ice cream and M & M’s that we refuse to throw away was fun to laugh about. And in the end, after a week of stress, we get to celebrate the fact that the semester is over.