International students share their experiences with university athletics
By: Sanjana Sharma, Staff Writer
Let’s admit it — all of us have either hit the gym or taken to sports at least once in our lives for reasons revolving around health, body transformation, or for the love of sports. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lakehead offers some of the best sports and recreational facilities to meet our needs, but it does (sometimes).
Students, especially international students who are new to the beauty of Thunder Bay, and who are still busy settling in, usually don’t get the chance to explore the best of sports and recreation here at Lakehead. With varsity sports, strong club sports teams, a lavish gym, a swimming pool, and recreational activities, Lakehead covers it all. And guess what — all of these on-campus facilities are either free or come at a minimal cost for students! Then, why is it that not many international students are involved in Lakehead sports, even casual sports? The Argus decided to talk to a few of them and understand where international students stand:
Abhijeet Chauhan, who is a second-year student in B.Sc. Forestry, usually works out at the gym to stay fit. He was a national hockey player and a district level athlete back in India, which is where his interest in joining sports at Lakehead stemmed from. “I saw that [wrestling] practices were going on in a room beside,” recalled Chauhan when he was at the gym last November. He approached the coach because he was also interested, and the coach asked him to first practise with the University team for a few months. Chauhan ended up going for practice for around a month, but he had to quit because “they wanted more commitment,” while he had many courses that needed his attention. On being asked on whether there were more international students on the team, Chauhan said that there was just one other guy, who he guesses was an international student. He thinks that the reason why international students don’t indulge a lot in University sports is because they don’t have the time for it. Most international students are also working part-time, which drains them of their energy. The reason why Chauhan started practising was because doing something extra-curricular looks good on the résumé. Chauhan plans on joining the team in the future.
Prakhar Mehrotra, a third-year H.B. Commerce student, goes to play soccer in the Fieldhouse every Friday. “I just casually went [to the Hangar] on a Tuesday and asked somebody about soccer, and started going every Friday,” said Mehrotra when asked about how he got to know about the weekly intramurals. He says that he is just a casual player, and his purpose of continuing with the sport is to make new friends and stay fit. “I’m pretty passionate about soccer,” he added. According to Mehrotra, out of the 50 players, around 35 are international students, which is a good number. He does note that playing a sport can consume a lot of energy and time from a student. But, different sports are played in the Hangar on every day of the week, so students should “[be able to] manage at least one day out of the week to play a sport that they like,” suggests Mehrotra.
Harsimarpreet Singh, who is a first-year H.B. Commerce student, used to go swimming in fall, 2018. Unfortunately, he had to discontinue the practices because school and work got him really busy. Singh claims that he was a state champion in Punjab, India in 2016, which is why he resumed swimming after coming to Thunder Bay. He used to go swimming with his friends, but gradually, all of his friends stopped going, and he was the only one left. “I got bored in the long run because I was the only one who went,” said Singh. He says that not many international students know that they can still go for a swim during the winters. Singh hopes to take up swimming again in the future if he can manage his other priorities.
In a nutshell, although it may be hard for international students to manage everything while staying away from home, they should still take out some time every week for themselves and practise a sport, or even just hit the gym because a healthy lifestyle is the key to being happier and more productive. Lakehead offers flexible scheduling to match students’ needs, so if you have some time off between classes, just go to the gym and treat yourself well!