Twenty one and Milan

Please visit The Water Project Shots for a Cause donation page to donate to a clean water fund for my birthday! My goal was $100 and donations still fall short. Thanks! 

I had the perfect birthday weekend – and credit goes entirely to my amazing “new” friends here in Maastricht. I’ve known people here for less than two months but through shared experiences they have come to quickly be some of my best friends. And, for my birthday weekend, they completely spoiled me.

I had planned to celebrate my birthday in Maastricht on Friday night (after my first exam was concluded!) because on Saturday March 9th (my actual birthday) three of my friends and I were hopping on an early Ryanair flight and heading to Milan. On the Facebook event, I announced to the 60ish guests attending that the party would start at 9pm at the Guesthouse (where most of the exchange students live).

Earlier in the week I had stopped by my favorite small bar in town to see if the owner would offer a special drink price if I brought such a large group in around 11pm on Friday. He offered the us a huge discount on beer and even added a special birthday cocktail to the drink menu for the night. The bar, called DikkeDragonder, is a bizarre Maastricht gem. Fake tree branches spread across the ceiling and a giant 5ft mountain of candle wax rests on the edge of the bar. The bar is dimly lit with vintage chandeliers that cast an earthy dim light over the bar area. This bar is off the beaten path, and I was excited to show my friends a new place in town.

I arrived home around 6pm on the night of my birthday party. Thrilled that the final was over, I was ready to eat a big dinner and prepare for my night ahead. My friends greeted me at the kitchen door and demanded that I return to my room because they wanted to cook me dinner. Ecstatic that a few girls thought of cooking for me, I returned to my room and relaxed. An hour and a half later I was still in my room waiting for them to come get me…and waiting…hungry…

After about 2 hours of waiting FINALLY my friend knocked on my door. I said how hungry I was, and then she told me they didn’t have enough food to cook so they had all just gone back to their rooms. Stressed from my final, hungry from the long day and somewhat anxious about the party that night I actually felt a wave of crankiness at the three friends that had promised me food.

We decided to head over to my friend Sarah’s cooridor to cook dinner. From my fridge I scooped up some rice noodles, chicken and vegetables to prepare and headed with Sarah to her kitchen. She opened the door and the first thing I saw were a few scattered balloons. Then….


About 25 of my friends jumped up from behind the counter and screamed! I dropped all my groceries and then proceeded to awkwardly go around and hug everyone while they sang Happy Birthday. I think I even spun around in a circle a few times – I was just too happy and surprised to function with any social dignity. Having met most these people less than two months ago, I was filled with intense affection for all of them and was absolutely blown away by their thoughtful efforts.

For dinner, everyone pitched in to make a giant taco night. TACO BOUT SOME GREAT FRIENDS! Earlier in the week I mentioned that I was missing Mexican food, and my friends delivered. They also made a giant birthday card for me and all signed it. Inside the card was one of the biggest surprises yet. Everyone pitched in and bought me…


At this point I was overwhelmed with happiness and just wanted to hug everyone and never let go. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by so many intelligent and fun people here in Maastricht – and having everyone in one place celebrating my birthday was the best gift of all.

Before the party, I recruited my friend Blake to help me make Jungle Juice. Jungle Juice is a typical mass drink made at fraternities in southern universities in the States. I thought it would be fun to introduce some of my European friends to the deadly drink – and sure enough it equated to a good time. The only thing I could find to hold the liquid was a mop bucket (a new one of course!) so people gathered around the mop bucket to serve themselves the jungle juice.


As the night progressed, more and more faces showed up to the Guesthouse. Some were familiar faces, some that I was just meeting for the first time. Irregardless, I was in the best mood ever and absolutely ecstatic about making my rounds and hugging everyone and telling them how wonderful they were – hugging, singing and dancing would be the theme of my night.

After a few hours of celebrating, another round of Happy Birthday started as my friends made their way towards me with a homemade cake lined with 21 candles. Meet some of the girls that made my 21st birthday celebration so special!


During the second Happy Birthday song my social move of choice was again to spin around in a circle dancing to the melody. Other bizarre social decisions from my birthday celebration included this strange repeated pose:



This photo was taken right before security showed up..I’d say about 60 filled the room and at 11pm security wanted us out. Since it was my birthday and I was feeling like a birthday princess at this point I tapped a spoon against my drink to get everyone’s attention and made an announcement to meet outside in 5 minutes to head to the bar.

After grabbing jackets and making our way outside (with security trailing us all the way) we reassembled outside and made our way downtown. Typically, we ride bikes. With a group this large all of us ended up walking – warmed by the Jungle Juice and the warmth of the wonderful friendships around us!

At one point I turned around and could not stop laughing at the massive exodus of people lining the sidewalk behind us. It seemed appropriate at the time to extend my arms and shout “I AM MOSES! PARTING THE RED SEA!” and standing in place to force people to walk on either side of me. In retrospect, I’d like to retract the decision to pull the “MOSES!” move.

The bar ended up becoming packed – perhaps it was a little too small of a venue – but was still an absolute BLAST. Here’s the fantastic bartender that was so accommodating to the party! He let me hang out behind the bar for part of the night and taught me how to mix the Reagan’s Birthday Cocktail that he added to the drink specials!


The night was an absolute success and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by great people here in Maastricht! Making our early flight the morning after this big party was an absolutely hilarious struggle, but we somehow all managed to make our flight! While I was sleeping on the plane and pretending to not feel absolutely miserable, my friends secretly told the pilot that it was my birthday. I woke up to a flight attendant wishing me a happy birthday over the intercom. Read about my birthday weekend in Milan here.

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part I, Uncategorized

2 Responses to Twenty one and Milan

  1. grandmother

    Oh, Reagan! You are Miss Wonderful! What a fun, memorable Birthday celebration. Here it is April 5th and I’m just now getting on your blog. I can’t wait to read on! With much love and admiration of your gift of meeting new people and turning them into supporting, loving friends. Grandmother

  2. Reagan J Payne

    Thanks to everyone who donated to the Shots for a Cause Water Project Fundraiser for my birthday – we were able to help provide clean water for a community in Uganda! Read more about the 320 students at the Byanamira Modern Primary School and 60 surrounding households that now have access to clean water:

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