International Buddy program – is a great way to discover Giessen, make new international friends and learn languages! Today we’ve asked Fernando (one of the members) to share with you his personal experience and how the International Buddy Program works…
Concept of being buddies
I want to start this writing explaining very briefly what the International Buddy Program is:
The program consists in pairing, most of the times, two students; one international student who is just starting his degree experience at the University and doesn’t know where he is or what his name is a.k.a. a newcomer (which I can confirm, because of personal experience, happens very often) and one international or local student who has more experience in the field a.k.a. an oldie.
The oldie will not only be the tutor of the newcomer but also a friend and hopefully a good one ?. The program offers you as well plenty of activities and excursions in which you can take part of.
Applying for International Buddy Program
In my first two or three semesters as a student, I heard a lot of this “buddy thing” as everyone called it. In so many occasions people from the program tried to convince me to register. My answer, sadly, was the same every time (mostly excuse): “I don’t have time”. But in my head, all I thought was “This thing is not for me”. It is obviously the easiest way out from a new experience which takes you out of your famous comfort zone and brings you nothing but advantages. It should be pointed out that the program itself and the activities are completely free of charge and voluntary. So, denying such an invitation made no sense at all, especially for me as an international student.
Once I decided to step out of my comfort zone and experience and learn new things I enrolled into the program. At the beginning, I was a little bit skeptic, but after the first experiences all of it was gone. I started to get in touch with people from all over the world, allowing me to know and understand new cultures, new mindsets. It felt sometimes like going on a trip all over the world, but instead of me going to these places (the IBP has A LOT of different countries taking part), their cultures and people came to me. Pretty nice I would say.
What you gain as a member of International Buddy Program
From that day on, I have made really good friends, I have improved my German and English skills, I have known new countries I didn’t even know they existed, I have known really beautiful places and taken part in many cool activities, such as: Edersee, Mainz, Mini-Golf, Köln, Licher Brewery, Laser Tag and many others. Friends of mine, with so much interest in improving their foreign language skills, have found a kind of friend/teacher with whom they can speak to as often as they want and have helped them reach their purpose. Other friends with interest in studying abroad got to know the culture before being actually in the country. This helped them made the most out of their international experience once they got there.
But if you ask me what is the most important thing I have learned, I would say, as I already mentioned (I like pointing this out), understanding, helping and opening up to new people and cultures, allowing me to understand and appreciate myself and my own culture as well. In general terms, the International Buddy program has helped me GROW and make the most out of my studies in Germany.