For the second year in a row, the Erasmus Student Network Wageningen is organising the Buddy Program. ESN pairs up an Erasmus student with a Wageningen student, the Buddy. The Buddy’s job is to help the new student find his or her way around student life in Wageningen at the beginning of their stay, but something like buying a bike together is also part of being a Buddy.
The programme works as follows: international students register while still in their home country, through the ESN website. Any Wageningen student who wants to take part in the programme does the same. The subscription form is like a dating site profile: you fill in your country and language, as well as other specific preferences. Once you’ve submitted your profile it’s a question of waiting for the happy mail from ESN saying that they’ve found you a partner.
‘That’s when the first part of the programme starts,’ continues Chansuay. ‘The idea is that Buddy and international student mail with each other before they meet face to face in the Netherlands. This way they can get to know each other, and practical issues can also be discussed. The international student might want to know how to reach Wageningen from Schiphol, for example. After arrival in the Netherlands, the international student and Buddy can arrange to meet, but there are no strings attached. Neither the Dutch Buddy or the Erasmus student have any obligations to ESN.’
Last year the programme was a success. Several Dutch students showed an Erasmus student the ropes. In response to the question whether Chansuay herself already has an international student under her wing, she smiles: ‘No, not yet. I’ve registered, but I haven’t been paired off. Exciting, isn’t it!’