February 25, 2016 | by Heather Osbourne
International Students Experience First Mardi Gras

Five international students set out on a pilgrimage through the streets of Lafayette on Mardi Gras to discover the traditions, cultural practices, food, fun and “why on earth” we would stuff our God in a cake.

Suzzane Aoko, from Australia; Andrea Farrão, from India; Faye Yap, from Malaysia; Vinay Israni, from India; and Aditya Kaveeshwar, also from India, began hearing about Mardi Gras as soon as their feet hit Louisiana soil. Talks of second lines, colorful beads, king cake and massive floats planted a desire within them to experience the confusing but thrilling traditions that are Mardi Gras.

We met these students three days before Fat Tuesday. They expressed their perceptions on the holiday and what they were hoping to experience while there.

“I thought Mardi Gras, originally, was a gay festival until I actually googled it (that morning) and learned it was something to do with Easter and how it’s like one big hoorah before you have to fast at that point,” Aoko said.

“I’ve seen quite a few videos about what it is,” she continued, “but I just see it’s like a parade where you can dress all funky and catch beads and drink, I guess. Just have a good time really.”

“I want to see colors because I come from a place that has a lot of colors,” said Farrão. “That’s India. And, when I came here, it’s kind of like everyone is like black, white or grey. So, Mardi Gras, according to me, would be like a lot of colors and a lot of people coming together.”

When the day finally arrived, the barricaded streets were filled with colorful clothing, men on stilts and a plethora of floats. The excitement of the crowd entrancing these students as they quickly joined in on the dancing, laughter and, of course, bead catching.

Come along on the journey with our five international students as they experience Mardi Gras for the first time: 



I’m a senior journalism major from New Orleans. I’m currently interning with the Acadiana Advocate, hoping to one day travel the world writing for National Geographic Traveler magazine. When I’m not striving to meet my daily deadline, relaxing at coffee shops, hammocking, hiking, kayaking or any other hipster activity is what fills my free time.

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