Halloweird: UB international students react to Halloween


Madelon Brand is an international student from the Netherlands. She finds Halloween to be unique yet “superficial.”

“I think that it’s a very interesting holiday, but I’m disappointed because it seems it’s mostly about the drinking and not about the celebrating of anything in particular,” Brand, a junior English major, said. “I don’t know how if that’s truly what [Halloween] is like, but that’s what I’ve heard and that’s what I’ve seen. It’s sad, but I hope there’s something more.”

UB International Student and Scholar Services were unable to tell The Spectrum how many international UB students there are at UB. 

Many international students, including Brand, aren’t used to the usual spooks and scares of the American holiday. International students often have a thirst for new experiences, but look at this particular holiday with confusion and curiosity. From parties to costume preparation, some students are still getting used to the hype.

Kartik Garg, a junior computer science major, is an international student from Lucknow, India. He didn’t expect how much American prepare for Halloween.

“We have festivals and things back in India, but nothing like Halloween,” Garg said. “I always thought that Halloween was just one day where you get a costume and its over like in movies, you know? I really didn’t expect the preparation. There is so much preparation, there are even large stores entirely devoted to [Halloween] that close when it’s done. It’s really exciting.”

Even though some students find it difficult to tie deeper meaning to costumes, candy and parties, Halloween grows as a social phenomenon regardless of any intrinsic social value.

Many countries that are culturally separated from the U.S. are now celebrating Halloween as a social event more than a holiday because of international media exposure.

Joel Lim, a senior psychology major, is from Singapore. He said Halloween has spread to his country and it has impacted his experience when he saw how it’s celebrated in the U.S.

“If you have asked me about differences between American Halloween and Singaporean Halloween maybe like 10 years ago there may have been more differences, but now because Halloween is celebrated more and more there, it isn’t too much different,” Lim said. “Although your parties might be bigger, you can still go to clubs [in Singapore] on Halloween and see everyone dressed up.”

Despite mixed reviews, there is something about the holiday that students from near and far rally around.

Shubham Singh, a junior computer science major from New Delhi, sums up what Halloween means to him.

“There is nothing like this in my country and like many international students, I have seen movies but I am excited to see what will be going on,” Singh said. “It is weird, but Halloween is a big thing and I want to experience everything I can and see this because it’s… awesome.”

Carlos Leyte is a features staff writer and can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com