This upcoming weekend is my favorite American holiday--Halloween. In my hometown, it has always been a big deal. My next-door neighbors throw a BBQ-style feast, a family down the street converts their garage into a haunted house and people of all ages really get into their costumes. Though it isn't the most traditional of holidays, Halloween has always been a night I associate with family, friends and good times. It's the first year I won't be in town for it, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like I was missing out.
Fortunately, we're having a Halloween party of our own and although the costumes may not be the greatest, I'm excited to see what people come with given out limited resources. Sharing this holiday with the Chinese students is just one of the ways we've contributed to cultural exchange. Obviously, we've learned a lot about the Chinese college culture by sharing dorms with current BeiWai students; they're always ready to share the food they make and answer any questions we have about what college classes are like, but I think it's also interesting to see what they've learned about other cultures from us. Since arriving in China, people with other cultural backgrounds have shared some of their traditions with our dorm floor.
During YomKippur near the end of September, one of our Jewish students bought apples and honey so that we could share in the fast-breaking tradition. Before he could finish slicing the apples, almost everyone on our floor had made their way into the kitchen where we dipped them in honey and ate to bring wishes for a "sweet" new year. Hearing him talk about the history of this holiday and watching everyone be genuinely interested in another culture was a refreshing experience. Another one of my classmates celebrated his Lithuanian hertiage by whipping up a batch of crepes for everyone, and yet another offered bites of his Burmese tea leaf salad. I've been a part of a conversation about the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, heard about the school systems in Singapore, and learned about the intricacies of citizenship laws in Europe. Even from less "international" students like myself, I've recieved perspectives on different places from coast to coast.
Studying abroad has introduced me to a fascinating group of people--each with the histories of their location, religious, and cultural backgrounds. I expected to get an international experience by learning about China, but I never could have anticipated how much I would learn about other places and people. I know it sounds cliché, but I think I'm allowed to drop a "it broadens your horizions and deepens your worldview" kind of statement at least once.
For now, I'm getting pumped about my first Halloween away from home. I'll add some pictures of the costumes we came up with later this week.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>My name is Kelly Cunningham and I am a Chinese Studies and English major at DePaul University. I love everything about languages-reading them, writing with them, speaking them, etc. I'm studying abroad to improve my Chinese and learn more about the culture.</p>