How J-1 Exchange Visitors Celebrated Halloween in the United States in 2016

Marcal Prats is from Spain and is currently training with a digital communications company in Washington, D.C.

j1-journeys-halloween-2016-marcalOn Halloween I hung out with friends around Georgetown in Washington D.C. We were dressed up in costumes specifically for the occasion. I dressed with a horror Halloween Theme. I wore a giant spider on the top of my head and a ghost doll embracing me from behind. My face was made up with pale- skin and black and red eye contour. I also added some red LED lights on the spider, in the ghost doll’s mouth and even into my own mouth! It was funny because when children and their mothers saw me, they asked to take a picture. After dinner we went to a house party close to DuPont Circle, where I met with people from many places around the world and had fun!

Sarah Hill is from New Zealand and is currently training with a  nonprofit organization in Seattle, Washington

j1-journeys-halloween-2016-sarahI went out on the Saturday before Halloween with friends to people watch and costume watch. On Sunday, I went to another friend’s housewarming, which was Halloween themed, and some people dressed up. It’s HUGE here in the United States.

In New Zealand kids might trick or treat in their street (we were only allowed to go to people we knew), but it was definitely a child-only event. Only on the actual day of Halloween, and there was maybe a 50/50 chance you’d do anything at all. In the United States the entire weekend before was adult parties and bars having special nights, and nearly everyone I know was going to something and shopping for costumes. There was Halloween candy all over the office, which would never happen in New Zealand.

In Scotland (where I’ve also lived), there is a street fire festival for an ancient Celtic festival called Samhuinn.

Jason Roacine is from Switzerland and is currently training with a software company in San Jose, California.

j1-journeys-halloween-2016-jasonI was involved in the Halloween celebration with my company, which has a very open culture at work and celebrates, in a very happy manner, all the holidays. There was a costume contest that I won, as well as a suite decoration contest which we took very seriously. One of my mentoring colleagues transformed our office into a crime scene, which took us most of the evenings in the week preceding Halloween to complete.

The Halloween celebration in Switzerland has the same name and occurs on the same date as in the United States. Trick-or-treating is happening for children, but it is essentially a party for children. Adults rarely dress for the occasion and decorations are very limited for most families.

The tradition of Halloween here seems much more powerful than in my home country. People seem to really enjoy it.

Agata is from Poland and is currently training with a communications company in Los Angeles, California.

I met with friends that invited me to a house party where everyone was dressed up. It was very unique for me. It was amazing to see all the pumpkins and house decorations around the neighborhood. Also, in the shops everything was Halloween oriented and this was a big culture difference. Very fun to look at! At work on Halloween day everyone dressed up. It was funny seeing my co-workers as zombies, Batman or even Inspector Gadget.  I was a good witch, dressed in black, but with a white bird on my shoulder and a magic wand.  There were sweets at work.

Our Halloween in Poland is more like the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” because we think about the people who have passed away. We go to the cemetery or graveyard and light candles. It is impressive to see thousands of candles at night.

Charles Zungu is from Uganda and is currently training with a tourist company in Kentucky.

I participated by going to a haunted house in Illinois. We arrived at 8:30 p.m. I was worried and scared as I have never been to one. I was very frightened, and my colleagues told me to keep in mind that whatever I was going to see was not real. None the less, some sections of it were too scary; I started to question my decision to participate. When it was all done, it was one of my best experiences in the United States.

Trick or treating shows the spirit of love, unity and togetherness of Americans. Also, scary costumes seem to instill bravery in Americans.