International students experience first Halloween at Stark

Students studying abroad at Kent State Stark hand out treats to children during the BooU Event at Stark on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. This was the first Halloween for many international students studying at Stark this semester.

Natalie Meek

There are 34 Chinese students studying at Kent State Stark who experienced their first Halloween celebration this year, complete with trick-or-treating, dressing up and enjoying fall festivities.

Boo U, an event put on by Kent State Stark Oct. 25, is a community event that invites children to trick-or-treat around campus and visit candy stations run by student organizations.

Bei Cai, a Kent State Stark associate professor of communication studies, works with the international students and explained that they have been anticipating Halloween for weeks.

“This is part of the many cultural events, (and) it is nothing like anything they’ve ever experienced before,” Cai said. “I’m sure they’re going to go back and brag about their first Halloween. Hundreds of pictures will be sent back home and shared on social media tonight.”

The students had the opportunity to experience trick-or-treating at the Boo U event Wednesday night at Kent State Stark. Many of the international students spent the night taking pictures of the children in their costumes.

They enjoyed passing out candy to the children of the community so much that they quickly handed out the entire supply of treats at the beginning of the event.

Elena Jiao, a junior business major,, explained that while they don’t celebrate Halloween in China, they do recognize the holiday with their English teacher in class.

“It’s not what I expected,” Jiao said. “it surprised me. Princesses, dinosaurs, zombies, skeletons — It’s colorful!”

Jiao was fascinated with the costumes of the young trick-or-treaters and wore a traditional Chinese costume from the Han dynasty. Ironically, she ordered the costume from eBay, and it was mailed to her from China. Jiao said she chose this costume because she wanted to teach American students about her Chinese history.

Raelynn Yang, a junior English literature major, dressed up as a vampire. Yang said the Halloween store she went to for her costume was unlike any store she had ever seen.  

Yang explained that the Halloween celebration is more lighthearted than she expected, as she observed the Disney character costumes that the children were wearing.

“Halloween is much happier here,” Yang said. “It’s more relaxed and funny. In China, a costume is a zombie in traditional clothes.”

The cold weather during the trick-or-treat event didn’t seem to bother the students, who said that the cool Autumn temperature is similar in Beijing.

“They’ve never seen anything like this before,” Cai said. “Seeing the people and being part of everything makes this one of many cultural events that they are able to experience here.”

Natalie Meek is the south regional campuses and aeronautics reporter. Contact her at [email protected].