Camila F. is currently a senior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Ever turned 18 in Viterbo before? Well in case you haven’t, here’s the inside scoop.

First thing you should probably know- birthdays here are not taken lightly.

Barbara, the sweet and often frantic proprietor of the cafe across from school, finds a moment between all the chaos to hand you a bag of chocolates and a quick hug.

Friends invite you to lunch where restaurant owners join in on the celebration singing “tanti auguri a te” for the whole restaurant to hear.

Host sisters and cousins bake you cakes and decorate your house with Harry Styles paraphernalia because they know you’re obsessed with him.

And you? You sit there amazed and overwhelmed as you feel your heart become heavy not because you are sad or missing something but because it feels so full it could burst.

They don’t care that it’s a Monday or that the day is a cold, rainy, gloomy one- your 18th birthday “is one of the most important ones”, so no matter what- you’ll be celebrated. Now if you’re lucky, the night might end with an introduction to salsa class for your host family in the middle of the living room where you end up laughing so hard your stomach hurts... but that might just be me...

Later that night, when all the mayhem has died down, when you've said your grazies and given your hugs, you might find yourself suddenly alone in your room reflecting on the day you just had, and that bittersweet feeling that reminds you your birthday has come to an end may begin to stir… but let me be your humble reminder that rest assured- because if there's one thing that’s certain about life as an SYA student- there is always something to look forward to.

A fieldwork day titled Paciente de Gojo or Crazy Patient that consists of competing with your classmates for dinner prizes, an upcoming weeklong trip to Florence, picking olives in agroecology class, and if you happen to come from Florida- experiencing seasons for the first time (yay fall leaves!)

At this reminder, that night, no matter how hard you’ll try to fight it, you’ll go to sleep with the biggest smile at the recollection of how special your day was, and at the fact that there is still so much left to experience.

I suppose the real trick to celebrating a birthday here, or simply being in Italy at all, is to truly take it all in. To, as the great Katy Perry once said, “make it like your birthday everyday,” and luckily, life here makes that a piece of (birthday) cake.

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  • SYA Italy
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