The only (and best!) birthday I’ve celebrated in a foreign country

Turns out “epic” and “jam-packed” were excellent predictions for my birthday this year! It was a marathon celebration and, due to the fact that I practice the Birthday Zone Philosophy–the idea that the Birthday Zone starts a couple days before your birthday and continues for weeks, during which you can have as much chocolate as you want and carry on as if it’s still your actual birthday–the celebrations aren’t even over yet!

I had a nice morning to myself, including a lovely long run around campus. Around 1 I headed up to get some lunch in the cafeteria. Looking back, I’m amazed I didn’t suspect that Carrie & Ashley would have some sort of birthday shenanigans planned for lunch, where all students on campus over the weekend would be in the cafeteria. Ashley had made Micah and I each an olive branch crown to wear while everyone in the cafeteria (I’m going to guess about 75 people) sang “Happy Birthday” to us while pounding on the lunch tables!

Micah and I with our olive branch crowns after everyone sang to us.

After lunch, I went over to the Model United Nations conference, during which I got to see my students talkin’ and rockin’ on such complex topics as nuclear arms proliferation and the global economic crisis!

One of these kids is my student. I'll bet you can guess which one!

After that, I met up with my friends Carrie and Ashley, who had ANOTHER surprise for Micah and I. We went to Ashley’s room, where we were showered with lovely little presents like chocolate-covered espresso beans, books in English and tea, and then presented with this awesome cake!!

Ashley & Carrie with the cake they got for Micah and I!

After we sat campfire-style around it, all digging in with various implements of cake destruction, I came back to my room and had a lovely Skype date with my mom! This was made even better by the fact that our dog, Abbie, was playing right next to mom’s computer for a bit, and while I couldn’t see her I could hear her snorting and snuffling. I had missed that snorting and snuffling!

Then, I got ready to go out for the evening! Faithful readers may remember my post from a long time ago where I complained about how everything was going wrong, and how I ruined my favorite skirt by accidentally staining it with bleach. Well, while trying to figure out what I should wear out for my birthday, I found myself really missing that skirt and wishing I could wear it.

It was then that I decided to turn it into Frankenskirt and find a way to make it wearable again. And within the space of an hour, I basically cut it in half horizontally, cut out the stain, and sewed it back together to make this awesome new rendition of my old favorite skirt. I can’t believe it worked, and I can’t believe I did it in time before we left!!


At about 7, we went downtown with Maria, one of my favorite teachers I work with here, for drinks. On the way, we stopped for a quick birthday dinner: a massive gyro. What could be more fitting for my birthday in Greece?

Birthday gyro!!

Matt, Micah, me, Carrie, Ashley and Maria out for a drink! We finally found great beer at a little place in the Syggrou neighborhood. For the most part in Greece, the beer choices are only Amstel, Heineken and Mythos. But this place had great Czech beer, and most of us had a strawberry porter that was absolutely delicious!

After having a drink, we met up with some of the AFS college students and some American interns from Anatolia College, another high school in Thessaloniki, for hookah! I was really looking forward to this, as I like hookah a lot but have only had it at friends’ houses–the only other time I’ve had a chance to go to a hookah bar, I was in Morocco and, being a girl, I wasn’t allowed to enter. So, this time around, I was really excited to try the hookah bar experience–and it didn’t disappoint! It was so relaxing, and both the company and the hookah were wonderful.

The mint-flavored hookah was the best!

After all this, at around midnight, we came back to the dorm for more revelry! I went to a party for a bit with Ashley, but, feeling a bit partied out, I ended up just going to a different room and chatting with a really sweet college boy from Romania until four in the morning! As you can see from my last “Day in the Life” post, staying up past even eleven is a big deal for me, so I was very proud of myself. It was a really nice way to end my birthday, and when I finally collapsed into bed at 4, I felt completely content, worn out in the best possible way, and immensely grateful for all my new friends here in Greece.

So, to recap, my birthday in Greece included running, olive branches, helping students with public speaking, cake, creative fun time with putting my skirt back together, good beer, gyros, hookah and good conversation. If there is a more Kateful combination of things that could have possibly come together in 24 hours, I don’t know what it is!

Lastly, my parents’ present to me this year was the opportunity to take the interns out for a really nice seafood dinner on them. We went to a lovely restaurant by the sea and essentially basked in the glow of excellently prepared seafood for hours! This is one of the best birthday presents I have ever gotten. One of my greatest values is sharing good food with good people, and to have my parents suggest this as a birthday present is not only a lovely idea, but also just goes to show how close my parents & I are and how well they know me! Thanks Mom & Dad! I love you!




All in all, it was a fantastic first birthday celebrated abroad. Thank you to all my wonderful family and friends here and back home!




About wrap me in phyllo dough

travel addict. greece-obsessed. grad student. bottomless pit.
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3 Responses to The only (and best!) birthday I’ve celebrated in a foreign country

  1. Sarah says:


    Glad you had such a wonderful birthday celebration!! What a treat to have good company especially when you’re so far from home. I look forward to getting updates on your life in my email inbox, so keep the posts coming.

    Love from Alaska,

    • k8peterson says:

      I was missing you this weekend while I was at Model UN! Seeing all those teenagers in suits made me want to obsessively check scores with you and glare at people who don’t like chocolate. Love to you guys too! I miss you!!

  2. Pingback: The Wrap Me in Phyllo Dough 100th Post Spectacular! | wrap me in phyllo dough

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