Felix Schiel, a student from Magdeburg, Germany, only arrived in Canada in September but it didn’t take him long to adapt to the life of a University of Lethbridge student and get a little richer in the process.
Attending classes and living in residence, Schiel quickly honed in on a few Canadianisms — Tim Hortons coffee, ice hockey, maple syrup and saying ‘eh’. He used those observations in a video he created and entered in a contest hosted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.Schiel’s entry won the contest, netting him a $250 prize and a little instant fame.
“I was happy and surprised that I won,” says Schiel.
He took a lighthearted approach in his video and used it to show how he went from wearing the soccer jersey of the German national team to wearing a U of L knitted scarf and plaid, flannel shirt. He got his roommates to ask him questions in the video so he could talk about the classes he was taking and his love of sports and the outdoors.
“It’s dealing a little bit with the stereotypes of Canada,” he says. “Because I’m living on campus, I’ve made Canadian friends. Because they are part of my life now I have adapted to everyday life. I started eating a lot of eggs and pancakes with maple syrup and I started watching hockey.”
At the Universitat Magdeburg, which has an exchange agreement with the University of Lethbridge, Schiel is studying sports technology at the master’s level. Although he’s taking kinesiology courses at the undergraduate level at the U of L, he’ll be earning credits toward his master’s at Magdeburg.
“I came here to improve my English skills in writing, reading and in science,” he says. “I was really excited about coming here. Previous exchange students wrote about the wind and the cold weather and how it snows and then starts melting after three days. I was a little bit informed about what to expect here and so far it’s been really nice.”
He’s been involved in research projects in Dr. Gongbing Shan’s lab and, in addition to kinesiology courses, Schiel’s taking a class in Canadian culture that has given him the opportunity to visit a Hutterite colony and Writing-on-Stone park. Schiel has made it a goal to play intramural hockey before he leaves Canada. He bought a pair of skates and has been practicing being on the ice.
To other students who are considering studying abroad, Schiel says, “Do it.”
“Sometimes there are problems with transferring credits so you may lose time because you have to add a semester but I think it’s worth it,” he says. “You will find new friends from all over the world.”