Pandemic parties have students celebrating birthdays in creative ways

Social work senior Joseph Nguyen said he spent his 22nd birthday in his friend’s garage.

Nguyen said his friend’s mom was paranoid because of COVID-19 and didn’t want them in the house, so he and his friends set up two tables in the garage and celebrated there.

After more than a year in the coronavirus pandemic, nearly everyone has had to find creative ways to celebrate their birthday.

Though Nguyen usually goes out to eat for his birthday, this year he had a potluck with some friends, with foods like fried chicken and stir-fried noodles, he said.

Everyone got tested before they saw each other, and although they used to share cups when they drank pre-pandemic, they were more careful this time when it came to things like that, he said.

After four or five months of not seeing each other, there was a lot of catching up to do, and Nguyen said he was just grateful to be able to see his closest friends and know that they were doing well.

Sociology alumna Serita Johnson said she was glad her birthday was in January instead of the initial months of the pandemic when the rules were more strict.

For her birthday this year, she went to the Museum of Illusions in Dallas. The exhibits were all visual illusions, one of which made her dizzy because it looked like the room was spinning, Johnson said.

Because of the virus, there were restrictions on how many people could enter the museum at a time, and they checked her temperature upon entry, she said.

It was nice to be able to go somewhere with her best friend and not be cooped up in the house on her birthday, Johnson said.

Public health junior Isanel Ceron said, for her, a typical birthday consists of a house party with lots of music, food and dancing late into the night.

For her 21st birthday, they had to cancel everything for everyone’s safety, she said. So instead, Ceron celebrated at a restaurant with her parents and had her first legal drink, a mojito.

Ceron was a little bummed that she wasn’t able to celebrate her 21st birthday with her friends. Before the pandemic, she had imagined her 21st to be one of the most fun days of her life.

Though this birthday was different than she’d hoped, Ceron said she was grateful for her family because they made her birthday special anyway. They decorated the kitchen while she was getting ready and surprised her with a gift. Ceron’s family in Mexico also FaceTimed her to sing happy birthday.

Ceron said she wants to travel somewhere for her 22nd birthday next January. What she really wants is a chance to spend her birthday in Las Vegas, she said.

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