British Columbia

My first Halloween: international students learn about the spooky holiday

Fraser International College in Burnaby is introducing their students to Halloween. The Early Edition dropped by to find out how the wacky holiday is perceived by the newcomers.

Fraser International College holds a party to introduce students from around the world to Halloween

Vivi Chen of China, on the left, and Vicky Cho of Hong Kong were surprised at how sticky and smelly the business of pumpkin carving is. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

From surprise fireworks to makeshift costumes and sugar binges, Halloween is a strange time of year.

And it can be downright bizarre for newcomers.

Fraser International College in Burnaby is holding a "My First Halloween" party to introduce its 2,400 students from 54 countries to the wacky holiday.

The Early Edition dropped by to find out what puzzles and delights them about Halloween.

Carving a pumpkin is hard

First, we met a group of young women carving pumpkins in preparation for the party. As they scooped out the guts, the room filled with squeals of "dirty!" "sticky!" and "smelly!"

Their store-bought carving tools bent, and they were cautious about the huge kitchen knife, but managed to produce some excellent debut jack-o'-lanterns.

"The skin of the pumpkin is actually really hard. To take the top part off you actually have to use a lot of effort," said Jasmine Lam, who comes from Hong Kong.

Everyone gets involved

Felix Niyomugabo of Rwanda, at left, and I.K. Emmanuel-Audu of Nigeria, relish the fear factor of Halloween. (Catherine Rolfsen)

Most of the students knew the basics of Halloween before coming to Canada, but were surprised to find out how much the celebration has taken over the city — from seeing costumes on the SkyTrain to the ubiquitous trick-or-treating.

Lam says there are some festivities in Hong Kong, but you wouldn't go knocking on strangers' doors in hopes of a treat.

I.K. Emmanuel-Audu, a student from Nigeria, says these kinds of celebrations wouldn't fly in his home country either.

"We don't typically celebrate things like this, mostly because things like witches and wizards, those kinds of things are taboo," he said.

The thrill of being scared

Emmanuel-Audu and his friend Felix Niyomugabo of Rwanda were relishing decorating their school with cobwebs and fake blood.

Felix Niyomugabo of Rwanda decorates Fraser International College in preparation for a "My First Halloween" party. (Catherine Rolfsen)

Niyomugabo says he's looking forward to surprising his friends with a terrifying costume, and dares them to do the same.

"I won't be scared," he said.

"People say they'll scare me. I don't know, I'm just waiting to be scared. Will they manage though?"

The joy of All Hallow's Eve

All the students are fully committed to celebrating Halloween, whether it's handing out candies with their host families or dressing up. 

'I've always seen it on television, people doing this stuff, and I always wondered how they did it, and now I'm doing it.-Simrat Kaur, international student from India

Carol Lu of China has bought a cow costume. Emmanuel-Audu will go as Barack Obama, and plans to say 'yes we can' a lot.

"I've always seen it on television, people doing this stuff, and I always wondered how they did it, and now I'm doing it," said Simrat Kaur of India.

"I had this thing that I want to carve a pumpkin ... and now I'm here, I'm so excited to be here."