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Saman Sobhani sits on a workout bike

Saman Sobhani, 2022 / Photo by Kyle Sokoloski

UM Recreation Services Testimonial: Saman Sobhani

Getting active can lessen the strain of international student life, says Sobhani

June 15, 2022 — 

Saman Sobhani is an international student from Iran in the first year of his PhD in the Price Faculty of Engineering, studying computer engineering. When he first arrived in Winnipeg, he didn’t have permanent accommodation or adequate clothing for the winter. Because he needed to find housing, open a bank account, and shop for his basic needs, he wrapped socks around his sneakers from back home to avoid slipping on the ice while he walked and commuted by bus during his first few days in the city.

Loneliness, culture shock, a drastically different climate, and studying in a difficult field, were all changes that Sobhani says he was battling alone at the beginning of his time in Canada. However, after signing up to attend the gym in the ALC and a few group fitness classes, Sobhani explains his sense of well-being was greatly improved. Sobhani is a strong advocate for using physical activity to cope with the difficult circumstances that come with being an international student and studying in a new country.


How did you get involved with UM Recreation Services?

About the ALC, I should mention that I wanted to be more active and have exercise here in Winnipeg because it was so important to me to be active, besides my activities as a PhD student.

I thought it would be good describe the situation that I encountered when I came to Winnipeg because the weather was so cold, and I’d never experienced this situation before. I come from Iran, and in Iran it’s not comparable. But I like this weather. The first days were a little difficult because I didn’t have suitable clothes or boots or anything.

How have you seen your life improved since you got involved with the gym?

I was not really active because of my lifestyle, because of my major. But I felt it was so important because I lived alone, and I thought it was so important to engage with other students in sports activities and be active. And I think before I’d never been at such a university like UM with these facilities and it’s really interesting to see many of the facilities, recreation services, anything you can imagine. So, I liked to use them, I liked to be in the atmosphere. It benefits me, actually. As my time allows me, I like to be involved in these activities.

Do you use group fitness classes?

I use combo and bootcamp fitness classes—because there are other people and students and it’s very good to exercise with them.

Why do you enjoy going to these classes? Especially in Winnipeg where it’s very cold, where it can be very isolating, how have you seen this benefit your life?

Yes. About why I enjoy them—first I should mention, sport benefits everyone. Part of that, as an international student, I like to feel like I belong in this atmosphere, in the university and with other students. This interview is one of them, because I like to engage with others. So, it can benefit me in many ways. It makes me more happy, I don’t feel alone all the time and I’m more focused on my studies.

Are you a UM Recreation Services member or participant with your own story to tell? We are still looking for testimonials from individuals who use our services. If you are interested, please reach out to: kyle [dot] sokoloski [at] umanitoba [dot] ca


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