Celebrating Halloween As An International Student

Halloween is a festivity that is celebrated around the world, especially in the west, and some of the biggest celebrations occur in the US. Here’s our guide to getting into the Halloween spirit as an international student.

What Is Halloween?

If you’re an international student studying abroad, especially if you’re studying in the US, Halloween is a big festive tradition that is celebrated every October 31st. The history of Halloween is a mix of folklore and pagan festivities that have evolved over time to include more modern practices. Rather than it being a strictly religious holiday, it is more of a secular celebration with commercial elements. There are a number of Halloween traditions and activities that you might find occurring on campus which can be fantastic to get involved with. Here’s what you can expect during Halloween for students.

Halloween socials on campus

Many universities in the UK will throw fun, Halloween socials on campus to celebrate the occasion. It may be a university wide social or specific societies may throw their own. You can expect a variety of party games such as bobbing for apples and Halloween-themed music.

Scary movies

It’s a popular tradition to watch horror films on Halloween. Your university roommates may plan a movie night for your house or dorm. Make sure you’ve got enough snacks and if you’re not a fan of the horror genre, maybe a blanket to hide behind!

Pumpkin carving

Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lantern is a common practice on Halloween. You cut the top off the pumpkin, scoop out the middle, carve a face, image or word into the pumpkin and pop a candle in the pumpkin to watch it glow.


You’ll notice around Halloween that a lot of decorations will appear around campus and indeed, the city that you’re living in. Houses, schools and shops will deck their properties out in a variety of Halloween decorations. Expect skeletons, cobwebs, pumpkins, ghosts and a whole host of other spooky decorations adorning your campus.

Trick or treating

This Halloween tradition is typically observed by children. Children dress up in a costume of their choice, and go door-to-door with homeowners giving them sweets and chocolate treats. The children ask “trick or treat?” when the homeowners answer the door. The treat is the sweets and chocolate, and the trick is mischief that will be played if they don’t get their treats. Whilst you may not see any trick or treating on campus, it’s a massive part of Halloween culture.

Fancy dress

Dressing up in costume is a huge part of Halloween. Traditionally costumes were modelled on supernatural characters or figures such as witches, vampires, ghosts and skeletons. However, more recently, costumes have widened to include characters from popular culture, fictional characters, celebrities and general archetypes such as cowboys, princesses and ninjas. Halloween is such a fun time of year and if you’re an international student, you’ll have the best time if you throw yourself into the range of festivities.