Dec. 21, 2022
Study abroad offers international sports-science perspective
Many students dream of travelling, but don’t because of their studies and, in the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has made experiencing new places even harder.
However, as study abroad programs relaunched during the winter semester at the start of 2022, some Faculty of Kinesiology students have been able to take part once again.
Fourth-year kinesiology students Simran Sadhwani and Praneesh Chandrasekhar travelled to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH) in Oslo.
NIH, established in 1870, is rated one of the top sport-science schools and is a partner institution with the UCalgary kinesiology program. Having students study in Norway allows them to not only learn about kinesiology from an international perspective, but also learn about Norwegian culture.
“The school (NIH) had set up an amazing network for all incoming international students,” says Sadhwani. “Through this network, we were able to share our experiences of being U of C students and coming from Canada with all the other students. Likewise, we were able to learn about different cultures, social norms, and lifestyles of other students from all over Europe.”
Even though the pandemic was still on everyone’s minds, both UCalgary and NIH took measures to ensure the safety and health of the students who participated in the exchange. Both Sadhwani and Chandrasekhar noted the university provided them COVID tests when requested and were very understanding about the conditions.
“We were lucky because Norway is quite a small country, and the population of Oslo was not as big either. Life was relatively normal in Oslo,” says Sadhwani.
“Due to high vaccination rates and the healthier lifestyles of the people, COVID was not as bad as it was in Calgary. After the third week of January , there was no mask mandate or restrictions in the city and on campus, so we led and experienced pre-COVID normal lives.”
Going abroad by oneself can be a daunting experience, so both universities made every effort to make sure students participating in the program felt supported.
“Being in a new city can always be tough. However, our adviser at NIH became one of our greatest support systems,” says Sadhwani. “His name was Thomas, and he was literally one of the best advisers I have met in my life.
"Over the months, he became more of a friend than an adviser, and someone whom we are still in contact. He helped us with all our questions and supported us in every way he could whenever we needed it.”
Another interesting aspect both students weren’t expecting was how different the teaching and learning styles were between the two universities. Despite differences in how classes were taught and testing was done, the students quickly adapted to the education structure.
“It was more focused on giving the students a sense of independence,” says Chandrasekhar. “(It) gave me time to learn more about myself and gain research-based experience.”
Being away for a whole semester can seem like a long time at first, but both students say their time at NIH flew by and going abroad provided them with so many opportunities beyond studying.
Chandrasekhar was very excited to be able to explore Europe: “Travelling to other countries such as Italy during time off, and having everything close by, was really nice.”
Norway also had many things to see and participate in, and the students were given plenty of opportunities to join in.
“My most memorable experience was getting the chance to volunteer at the World Ski Festival and the biathlon that Oslo hosts every year,” says Sadhwani. “It was an amazing experience being a part of the sporting culture in Europe.”
A semester abroad, no matter the location, provides students with the chance to meet new people, explore new countries, and learn about new languages, music and food. Sadhwani and Chandrasekhar are back at UCalgary finishing off their last year, and they highly recommend anyone, regardless of faculty, investigate taking a semester abroad.
“Going abroad teaches you a lot about yourself and cultures, as well as allows you to grow as an individual when life throws curve balls at you,” says Sadhwani.
“Going to Norway was the best decision I made in my life, and the five months I spent there with my two best friends, making new friends from all over the world, travelling Europe and having so many stories to tell, I would give anything to re-live.”
Echoes Chandrasekhar: “I would absolutely recommend going abroad. Some of the best months of my life.”
If you know a kinesiology student who would like to study abroad at NIH, applications opened on Nov. 1, 2022, and close on Jan. 10, 2023.