International students that arrive at Inn University are being welcomed by a group of buddies. Student Damaris Matten has written about it.
I have been an international buddy for the autumn semester in Evenstad 2017. It was a great experience and I want to give you some insights on what it means to be a buddy in Evenstad.
Evenstad is a small campus with around 300 students, but has a lot of international students. This semester we were welcoming 31 new international students. 21 Erasmus students, 5 practice workers and 5 international Master students. They were coming from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Slovakia, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Nepal, Pakistan and we even had a student from South-Korea. The job of a buddy is to make everyone feel welcome and try to help to integrate them in daily student life. For this we have to set up a budget to get money from the school to organize activities.
When the students arrive we pick them up and show them around campus. The buddy group from 2016 organized a "second-hand-store" where students can leave stuff they don't need anymore and the new students always appreciate that.
In the beginning of the semester we helped the student society who was planning an introduction week with lots of activities and small games and we motivated the new international students to participate, which I think worked quite well. The introduction week is a great way to get to know everyone!
In the first weeks we organized a cabin trip, where almost all of the new international students joined! The cabin trip is a good opportunity for bonding and also to experience a typical Norwegian cabin. This semester only one of the international students had a car, so we included "old" students from the second year Master who had a car and the school provided us with the school cars! Like this we didn't have to exclude someone! We buddies bought the food upfront and the costs were divided by everyone and the cabin was paid by the budget.
Trips to Oslo and Røros
We also organized trips to the Freia chocolate factory in Oslo and a bus to the Christmas market in Røros. Unfortunately, the trip to the chocolate factory couldn´t be paid by our budget and therefore not that many students joined that trip, but nonetheless they liked it a lot. The Christmas market however was a big hit. We included all students, so also Norwegian students could join and they did, so that we had a full bus of 55 students.
Movie nights and common dinners
On campus we organized weekly movie nights. Every week someone picked a movie from their country. Like this we saw interesting and good movies which I probably would have never seen without this. We “hired” some students who are familiar with what berries and mushrooms you can collect here and they showed where you can get them and how you can prepare them.
We also organized common dinners, where everyone brought some food from their country. This we only had to organize once and then the students did that by themselves, which was great to see! For the last dinner we made a typical "Norwegian taco-dinner" and also invited Norwegians.
Usually Norwegians and internationals are two different groups, but this semester the integration between them was quite good.
Our buddy group this semester was quite small. It was me and two others who were helping out from time to time. Because we also had our studies, organizing was sometimes hard. Nevertheless, it has been a great experience. If you have the opportunity to be a buddy at your campus, take it! You will not regret it, and beyond the mere experience you might make some new friends!