International student, ‘townie’ share perspectives on American fall traditions

One-year-old Amy hands her mother, Sabina, a small pumpkin at the Sunset Zoo Spooktacular on Oct. 29, 2016. (Payton Heinze | The Collegian)

For Americans, fall brings many expectations such as assorted Halloween costumes, cool weather, football games, corn mazes and pumpkin everything. But for Kimberley Khaw, international student in elementary education, American fall traditions and activities came as a surprise.

“I absolutely love the fall scenery in Manhattan,” Khaw said. “Back in Australia the leaves on the trees hardly change; they just turn brown and then fall off. I love how every tree turns a different color here. Some will be dark red while others are a bright orange.”

While Khaw was pleasantly surprised with the changing leaves, Francie Knackendoffel, sophomore in marketing and Manhattan resident, said she has always looked forward to fall in Manhattan for as long as she can remember.

“My family has always loved taking walks down Sunset Avenue and some of the state-named streets because the trees are just breathtaking,” Knackendoffel said. “There’s truly nothing like fall in Manhattan.”

As a “proud townie,” Knackendoffel said she has several favorite fall traditions that are special to Manhattan.

“Going to Britt’s Farm pumpkin patch is a must,” Knackendoffel said. “I’ve been going there since I was a toddler. I love that it’s family-owned because the experiences I’ve had there truly reflect the hearts of Manhattan residents.”

Khaw said Australians don’t have any traditional activities that are special to the season, but several significant events occur during those months. In Australia, “fall” is known as “autumn” and lasts from February to May.

One of Khaw’s favorite events, Vivid, occurs at the end of May. Different areas of Sydney, including the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, are decorated with vibrant light displays to promote artistic thinking. Speakers and musical performers make appearances to add to the celebration.

“Buildings all over the city light up in these artistic light formations,” Khaw said. “It’s so cool.”

Khaw said she found it unusual that Americans in fall are so excited about pumpkins.

“I had to ask my roommate why there’s so many pumpkin-flavored food and drinks,” Khaw said. “We don’t have pumpkin-flavored anything back in Australia so all of this is new to me.”

Khaw’s first pumpkin-flavored dessert came from the Derby Dining Center several weeks ago and she said she loved it. However, she said she wasn’t a fan of her pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks.

One of Knackendoffel’s favorite pumpkin-flavored treats is a pumpkin muffin from Radina’s Coffeehouse, she said.

“My mom actually ate them all the time while she was pregnant with me, so maybe that’s why I like them so much,” Knackendoffel said.