Any student that is offered the chance to travel the world and study what they love may think, “Am I dreaming?” For Christiane Hofnagel, this dream is her reality. Hailing from Germany, Christiane is a second year graduate student who was based at CBU as part of the Transcultural European Outdoor Studies (TEOS) program. The TEOS program is a two-year Master’s program that is split into four semesters. Students involved with the program spend one semester in England, one semester in Norway, one semester in Germany and a final semester in a place of their choosing.
When it came time to decide where she wanted to take her final semester, one of Christiane’s TEOS instructors helped her make the choice. “My instructor had a connection with Dr. Pat Maher, an Associate Professor in Community Studies at CBU,” says Christiane. “I contacted Dr. Maher and after speaking with him I decided to spend my final semester under his supervision in Cape Breton.” Dr. Maher’s connection to the TEOS program is a result of the three months he spent in Oslo, Norway as a TEOS Visiting Scholar in 2012.
TEOS students are placed in a study group for the first three semesters. Christiane notes, “After living with the same people for three semesters, you become rather close!” She also mentioned that the TEOS program is an incredible cultural experience. “My time with the TEOS program allowed me to immerse myself in many different cultures,” says Christiane. “The material might be tricky to grasp at the start, but I strongly recommend the program to anyone looking to experience the world.”
Christiane’s master’s thesis is based around the concept of emerging adulthoods. A person in the age group of 18-25 is considered to be an emerging adult. Her thesis asks the question, “How do outdoor programs assist with the transition between adolescence and adulthood with regards to a sense of self in an ever-changing world?” “When students turn 18, they don’t instantly realize what they want to do with their life,” she says. “Some may discover a calling rather quickly, but others may take years figuring out what they want to do.” With her research, Christiane hopes to provide communities with insight on how to help emerging adults find their way.
“Everyone around here is so kind and supportive – not just the people at CBU, but people all over Sydney,” says Christine when talking about her time on Cape Breton Island. She recounted a story about how she asked a stranger for directions, and was shocked to hear the stranger not only give her directions but also offer to take her there! Christiane praised the unique beauty of Cape Breton. “For people willing to go out and find it, there is so much to see on this island.
Although Christiane’s time at CBU ended in July, she will fondly remember CBU, Cape Breton Island and the people she met and experiences she had along the way.