Foreign Perspective: Holidays Down Under

If you’ve ever studied abroad, then you know what it’s like to be submerged in an entirely foreign culture. But have you ever wondered what it’s like on the flip side of the experience – what it’s like for someone going abroad to America? Join columnists Amy Chilcott, of Australia, and Kasumi Hirokawa, of China, as they encounter all things American and Penn State – and tell it as they see it the way only one with a foreign perspective can.

Florio.ForeignPerspectiveAmericans are very passionate about their holiday celebrations. Australians love a good holiday too, but I feel like we don’t have as many big holidays as America does.

Last week before Halloween, I came to realize that many people don’t know that other countries don’t celebrate the same holidays at the United States. Here are a few ways holidays in Australia differ from America.

Halloween

An easy place to start considering Halloween was last week. This year is the first time I’ve celebrated Halloween because Halloween isn’t a thing in Australia. I watched ‘Halloweentown’ for the first time a few weeks ago and it was amazing.

Personally I thought having to find costumes for Halloween stressful. I just enjoyed seeing all the wacky costumes other people had on. I also carved my first pumpkin, which was confusing, but the end result was interesting. I wish I’d grown up getting to trick or treat as a kid.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, again, isn’t a thing in Australia. To me Thanksgiving sounds a lot like Christmas: lots of food and spending time with your family. I don’t really know that much about Thanksgiving apart from that it involves turkeys, but I’m all for any holiday that gives us a week-long break.

Christmas

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. In Australia, Christmas is in summer. People go to the beach, have barbeques outside and bathe in the sun. I’ve never experienced a white Christmas before (or a Christmas colder than 68 degrees), but I’m excited to see how America celebrates Christmas this year.

I really want to build a snowman too because it seems like a very ‘Christmasy’ activity from all the American Christmas movies I’ve seen. Having a cold Christmas is just a confusing concept to me despite Australia still listening to Christmas songs (Frosty the Snowman, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland etc.) and watching Christmas movies (Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause, or any just movie involving snow).

Photo by Sam Florio