When Texas A&M University freshman Amelie Berger is asked her age, she loves to tell the truth. The truth is she’ll be five years old tomorrow.
The environmental geosciences major says it will be good to celebrate this year on her actual birthday.
“On non-leap years, I celebrate on Feb. 28 because that keeps my birthday in February,” she says. Her parents usually do a little extra to celebrate when leap year rolls around and it falls on the actual date of her birth.
Berger says she always gets jokes such as “You’re so advanced for your age!” or “Wow! You’re so young and you’re in college!” or “Nope! No birthday for you this year!” Some friends would wish her an “early birthday” on the 28th and a “belated birthday” on March 1st.
Although being a leap year baby does have its advantages, it can also create problems. For example, some computers won’t accept Feb. 29 as a birthdate, and she has to use Feb. 28 instead. Then, because it doesn’t match her ID information, some computers won’t accept that date either.
“One day I was signing up for a bus pass and the lady at the counter asked me for my birthday,” Berger explains. “When I said Feb. 29, she entered it in her computer system and it wouldn’t take it. She informed me there were only 28 days in February!”
With her mom being an American and her dad from France, Berger was born in Paris and lived in France until she turned 18. When it came time to pick a college, she Googled schools with environmental sciences programs both in Texas, where she has family, and in France. She found Texas A&M and “fell in love” with the program.
She says she had no idea what she was getting into because she had never heard of Texas A&M.
“I was so surprised and amazed when I attended my new student conference and Fish Camp. I had no idea how many traditions there are and how strong the Aggie Spirit is! I realized I couldn’t have chosen a better school,” she says.
Berger says French schools just focus on academics, so she had never experienced any kind of school spirit: “You can imagine the culture shock!”
There were also cultural references Berger didn’t understand, words such as “scantron” that she had never heard. Other things were amazing first-time experiences for her such as a football game. “There I was in the sea of maroon at Kyle Field,” she says.
It didn’t take the Aggie freshman long to become acclimated. She is a member of several student organizations, including the Environmental Issues Committee (EIC), Aggie French Club, Aggie Ice Skating Club and the TAMU Belly Dance Association. She adds that there were so many others she wanted to join, but she had to pick and choose.
Berger says she has to admit she enjoys seeing people’s reactions when she tells them she is turning five, “because they always have a puzzled expression on their faces for a couple seconds.”