A New Student Hack! The Buddy System For International Students

A New Student Hack! The Buddy System For International Students

Written by Pierre Noronha

Born and raised in Mumbai, Pierre Noronha thought that he was destined to be a Chartered Accountant, but all that changed when he discovered his love for writing. Taking this new found passion forward, he started working as a content writer for UniAcco.

Last updated Mar 22, 2021

Everyone needs a buddy, don’t they? 

Someone to guide you, help you and care for you, no matter what!

Well, with all the hurdles and difficulties that come one’s way while pursuing higher education abroad, the need for a “buddy” has never been greater! 

In order to fully grasp the concept of Buddy System for international students, all you need to know is the theme song of FRIENDS – 

I’ll be there for you

(When the rain starts to pour)

I’ll be there for you

(Like I’ve been there before)

I’ll be there for you

(‘Cause you’re there for me too)

That’s exactly what the Buddy System will do for you. It will be there for you! 

It is very common to feel a little lost when you walk into your campus in a whole new country. Getting accustomed to new cultures & traditions, ways of studying, the weather, etc can be overwhelming. To ease this transition process, and to make you feel more welcomed in your new surroundings, many universities have started a great system for international students called the International Buddy System (IBP).

What Is “The Buddy Program”?

A New Student Hack! The Buddy System For International Students

The Buddy Program or the Buddy System for international students, is a unique concept where new international students (known as “international buddies”) are paired with existing local students (known as “local buddies”) based on similar interests. 

These local buddies act as “mentors” and help their “buddies” adapt easily to a new environment. This system helps the new international students to feel welcomed and to absorb the new cultural and educational ecosystem of the university smoothly.

Objectives Of The Buddy System For International Students

The primary intention of the Buddy System is to make international students feel comfortable and welcomed in their new environment. This system provides international students with the opportunity to develop a relationship, interact with local students and enrich their lives through an intercultural experience.

The main objectives of the Buddy System are as follows: 

  • Improving the welcome phase and the integration of international students through an online tool for universities/schools and associations.
  • Developing the internationalisation of local students by promoting intercultural exchange and open-mindedness.
  • Strengthening student mobility facilities (University and associations) and enable the local stakeholders to develop long-lasting partnerships by providing them with common communication, facilitation and training tools. 

How Does The Buddy System For International Students Work?

  • Students, both local and international, are matched on the basis of their shared interests i.e. language, course of study or specific student requests.
  • This process starts before the semester commences and often connects international students with their respective buddies before their arrival on campus.
  • The local student’s role is defined by the institution. However, most local students spend a few weeks with their matched international students to show them around and also assist them with new-student tasks (such as registering for classes).
  • The local students also help new students get familiar with information on student accommodation, local food, grocery stores, weather, transportation, banks, mobile phone services, student clubs and students services on campus, etc.
  • Most universities have a Facebook page from where the students can access their buddy programmes and connect with local buddies.

Where Can I Find An International Student Buddy Program?

A New Student Hack! The Buddy System For International Students

Every country has its own Buddy System for international students. 

The United States Of America

The prime objective of IBP in the USA is to encourage peer to peer support. Universities in America pair UTC U.S. students (known as U.S. buddy/national siblings/lions) with new international students (known as international buddies/cubs) to help them through the transition into a new culture, especially the first few weeks of their semester. This helps new students gain friendships and insights into other cultures.  

  • Details of pair-ups are shared before the international students arrive on campus. This helps with pre-departure queries.
  • Local buddies also help in linguistic challenges and provide cultural guidance.

The United Kingdom

The Buddy System for international students places emphasis on immediate guidance and assistance. As soon as an international student arrives on campus, they are immediately paired with a peer. Local students share their knowledge and experiences with their buddies, while also helping them with tips on effective settling into the new environment. 

Canada

Canada has a robust and well-functioning Buddy system. Universities in Canada have customised buddy programmes according to various interest levels such as –

  • International Student Study Buddy Program | University of Waterloo

This is a peer-to-peer system, targeted at upper-year international Science students and Canadian students or other students familiar with university studies in Canada. The International Student Study Buddy Program by the University of Waterloo is an excellent opportunity for international students to get academic support from existing students. 

  • Global Buddy Program | Kwantlen Polytechnic University

The Global Buddy Program by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is a social network of the  university’s buddy system. It invites new incoming exchange and visiting students to be a part of the university. The roles of a mentor include assisting incoming students to navigate the university’s student services, invite them to events, and provide continual support to create a sense of belonging in Canada.  

Australia 

Universities in Australia have developed their own Buddy System to help Study Abroad & Exchange (SA&E) students in social mentoring. This system also helps international students in blending into the Australian culture. Certain universities run their IBPs from Week 1 to Week 4 of the trimester across all campuses. There are certain sessions that are designed for making social connections, discussing life hacks and exchanging the ideas for cultural diversity. Here are the highlights of the programme – 

  • Establishing a supportive network for SA&E students who are yet to arrive in Australia.
  • Making students comfortable by providing friendly, practical and timely assistance upon arrival.
  • To resolve students’ issues about the university and Australian culture and lifestyle.

Conclusion 

Packing all your belongings and moving to a new country for higher education can be a monumental task. But this is a thing of the past; mainly because of the Buddy System for international students. Having a resource like the IBS can help even the most introverted student to feel comfortable and welcomed. Start your higher education abroad the right way by inquiring about the Buddy System of your university before you arrive on campus. Who knows, maybe someday you will be a big buddy to a fellow international student!

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog on A New Student Hack! The Buddy System For International Students. If you wish to read more blogs like this, here are some blogs that we think you will enjoy reading – 

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