International students explore Canadian life through the good ol’ hockey game

When Eshaan Bansal, an international student from India, landed at the Ottawa airport at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8, he knew exactly what to do. He got himself to the college’s International Education Centre, dropped off his luggage and at 8 p.m. he was in the stands of TD Place watching the Ottawa Redblacks lose […]
Photo: Arty Sarkisian
Eshaan Bansal taking pictures of the Canadian Tire Centre during the field trip organized by the International Education Centre. "It was great, it was really interesting. It's great to learn about what is so important in Canada," Bansal said.

When Eshaan Bansal, an international student from India, landed at the Ottawa airport at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8, he knew exactly what to do.

He got himself to the college’s International Education Centre, dropped off his luggage and at 8 p.m. he was in the stands of TD Place watching the Ottawa Redblacks lose to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a football game.

“I was tired, to be honest with you,” Bansal said. He had a 40-hour flight from Patiala, a city in the southeast of Punjab. “But it was just the excitement of going to college.”

Bansal has never been a great sports fan. And he has never watched football. But when he learned that there was a field trip organized by the International Education Centre, he jumped at the opportunity to explore this important part of Canadian life.

So, on Oct. 7, he and 48 other international students went to the Canadian Tire Centre to watch the Ottawa Senators lose to Montreal Canadians.

Many of the students had never been to a hockey game. Some had never even watched it on TV. They occupied two rows. And those were the most silent rows of the section, even as the classic Stompin’ Tom Connors song blasted over the speakers. They’ve never heard of the “The good ol’ hockey game” that’s “the best game you can name.”

“I have only seen hockey in that movie with Seann Scott,” said Abdul Rahman, a marketing student from Kuwait. He was referring to Goon, a Canadian movie from 2011, where dudes with bloody noses play a lot of hockey.

Rahman was not really a big fan, but he felt obliged to cheer for the Ottawa Senators.

“We are in Ottawa, and they are representing us,” he said. A few minutes later the Senators had their second goal. As the old song goes, “the fans all went insane,” roaring “Go Sens Go.” Rahman joined in.

“I don’t really like Montreal,” he added.

Leah Grimes, an intercultural programming support officer for the International Education Centre, travelled with the group and was the main organizer of the event.

“We always want international students to get the taste of Ottawa and the Canadian experience,” Grimes said. “For me, it’s just a hockey game, but it’s nice that students had fun.”

The next field trip is scheduled for Oct. 25. The students will visit Almonte just outside of Ottawa.

“It’s important to get students out of the college and into the community,” Grimes said.

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