London letters: A USF student’s Halloween experience abroad

Cheyenne Prosper is a sophomore majoring in mass communications who is studying abroad in London this year through Middlesex University.

The change in temperature signaling the fall season, the emergence of all things pumpkin and spice and the initiation of the holiday season are the things I look forward to around this time of year. So naturally, I was very excited to spend fall in London, a place where I could actually experience the seasons.

Though I enjoy the perpetual sunshine of Florida and having the option of going to the beach year-round, its nice to shake things up a bit.

After one month of being in my temporary home of London and getting my fill of all the touristy attractions and sightseeing, I was very eager to see how London celebrated the holidays, particularly my favorite: Halloween.
I set out on my mission to find out how Londoners prepared for Halloween, and the more I talked to people, the more disappointed I became.

Everyone I asked viewed Halloween as a holiday only for children.

There werent costumes worn by anyone over the age of 11. Barely any decorations were to be seen. Parties would continue as they always do, but they wouldnt hold the same ghoulish delight of an American Halloween party.

Dejected, I resolved myself to an uneventful Halloween weekend. Friday night however, as I went to meet some friends for drinks, I was accosted by a man dressed as the Easter Bunny and his date Mrs. Dracula, who were trying to locate the nearest tube station Londons equivalent of a subway station. The man and woman in costume were clearly older than 11, and I could only assume they were on their way to a
costume party.

The wheels in my head began to turn.

Maybe I had been talking to the wrong people, and maybe Halloween actually was popular among our friends across the pond.

I received confirmation of this when I walked into Belushis, a pub in Covent Garden cobwebbed doors and shelves and images of skeletons decorating the walls greeted me.

I decided regardless of if others wore costumes, I would stay true to the holiday spirit and exaggerate my makeup and don headband kitten ears the next night to go to a Halloween party. A few of the people I was going with splashed some fake blood here and there, and we were off to celebrate the holiday festivities. Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised.

Though many people did not wear costumes, the ones who did surely made up for it. One woman wore a
zebra-striped shirt and painted her face and neck in the same pattern. There were no shortages of zombies and witches, and there was enough fake blood present to give the cast of True Blood a run for their money.

My quest for all things ghastly to enjoy the holiday spirit was satisfied.

The Halloween I had pictured being celebrated in London was all too reminiscent of Florida Halloweens, but experiencing how other cultures celebrate the same holiday was better than anything I could have imagined.