Buddy Testimonials

Mónica, Mexican student studying at Ghent University:

"Going abroad might sound scary as you go to a foreign country, with foreign people speaking a foreign language. However, what if you would have a native student that could guide you along the process and throughout the fascinating Flemish culture?

This was my case, a Mexican student who had amazing luck of meeting a lovely Flemish student who helped me, not only with university doubts, but who I spent a lot of time with and who today I can call my friend. Applying and participating in the buddy program that Ghent University offers is a unique experience which will not only facilitate your stay in Ghent, but will also give you the opportunity to meet local students and learn from each other’s culture.

You might feel very confused when a cashier tells you ‘alsjeblieft’, but luckily your buddy will explain you that this is one of the many Flemish ways of being polite. Your buddy might also explain to you that there are three essential words you should remember: ‘frieten’ (fries), ‘bier’ (beer) and ‘Overpoort’. Those three words will be the ones you will hear and use quite often during your Erasmus experience in Ghent.

Of course, Erasmus is not only about partying, but also about studying and learning. Having the opportunity to study at Ghent university, gives you a broad perspective about the Belgian academic system and their didactic method for learning.

Having said all this, I wish you the best of luck and I also wish that you will be able to have a fulfilling and rewarding experience just as I had."

Buddy Eva, Belgian student studying at Ghent University:

"Why should you register as a buddy?

Not only is it the ideal way to practice your target language, you also get to know a new culture. As a Language and Literature major, it is definitely an added value to put your knowledge of the language into practice. It is also interesting to get to know certain regional differences. For example, Mexican-Spanish differs from Castilian in some respects. You will also learn idiomatic or local expressions that you will not easily find in your textbooks.

In addition, you will probably get to know a lot of other Erasmus students as well as your buddy. Of course, you choose how much you want to commit yourself. You can put in a lot of time by organising a city trip, cooking together or going to Ikea with them. Or you can low-key go for a drink every now and then.

The most important thing is that you are the contact person for your buddy. Because, of course, it is not all self-evident. How can they find their timetable on Oasis? What are the best places to go out? Where can they get the cheapest photocopies? These are some examples of questions that international students may have.

Anyway, I can speak from my own experience that it is very enriching in your social contacts and it is also an added value for the international students to have a Flemish student who can support them with problems or questions."

Buddy Pieter, Belgian student studying at Ghent University:

"I participated in the buddy programme and it was the best choice I have ever made. I have made friends for life, something I could never have predicted. You may be (as I was) a little 'sceptical' about the idea of taking on the responsibility of showing exchange students around, not to mention the fear that they will not understand you.

However, as a student of Japanology, I knew that this was the perfect way to get over my fear of speaking and make some friends for when I would eventually leave for Japan. I did have some free time during the year so I decided to actively participate. I sent them an e-mail myself, helped them with difficult to understand government documents, made phone calls, etc. It was all worth it, though, because I created a very close relationship with them and soon we were going to bars together, to the sea, celebrating Easter with my family, etc. We have become such close friends that there are even plans in the pipeline for us to come and stay with them for a few weeks in their country of origin! I am so happy with my choice that I spontaneously offered to write about my experience in the hope of giving my successors the same experience.

Another thing I would like to mention is that the buddy programme is perfect for students following language courses. My level of Japanese has improved enormously in a short time and I was able to make about ten friends with whom I am still in contact every day. So, are you in doubt? Do it! (if your class schedule allows it, of course) ;-).

PS Communication is more than just speaking the same language. The effort you put into making yourself understood is always appreciated. Whether you use your hands or your feet, the message will reach the receiver one way or another, don't worry."