On our path to support international students in Germany, one of our key offerings is the DEGIS Buddy Program.
We are well aware that the first few months in a new country can be very daunting for international students. From a new culture to a potential language barrier and all the initial bureaucratic hurdles, international students are confronted with various challenges in their everyday lives. This can be frustrating, but you can achieve success when you have the proper support on your side.
Considering all that, we thought: “Who could be the best person to support international students in this challenging phase?” While many universities and student centers (in Germany known as Studentenwerke) have offices to provide consultation, there are commonly too many students and too few staff. Some universities may have buddy or mentoring programs of their own, however, they mostly match international students with German students. This can indeed be helpful, but international students can understand the challenges of incoming students better. While having a German Buddy could also be beneficial in other aspects. This is why we at DEGIS also welcome German Students to our Network.
In DEGIS, we believe that the best person to console in this situation would be somebody who has already dealt with these same challenges and overcame them, therefore, we decided to match arriving international students (incoming buddies) with local international students (local buddies) who completed their first term in Germany. These local buddies act as guides for the new students and have helpful tricks and hacks that make the student experience and life in Germany a little less challenging.
Our aim is that the buddy partnership is the beginning of a long-lasting intercultural friendship. Ideally, the local buddies not only support the incoming buddies on their bureaucratic needs, such as sharing information about the residence permit or registering for classes and exams but also help the incoming buddies to arrive socially. That means to be introduced to a new social circle and get access to new spaces (like events and parties). To encourage local Buddies to join the program, they will get a “Buddy Program Certificate” which shows their engagement and can be a great addition to their CV. To get this certificate, they have to complete a simple checklist of tasks, like showing the incoming buddy around the university and the city and having at least monthly meetings with them. To ensure mutual respect between the parties, both the local and incoming buddies must sign a commitment agreement containing our anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.
On this basis, we started the DEGIS Buddy Program in the 2021-2022 winter term. The initial response that we got in the form of many applications showed us that there was a massive interest in this initiative! More than 400 people applied to become a local buddy and support incoming students in Germany. On the other hand, more than 1000 incoming students applied as incoming buddies.
This huge initial interest showed us that there is a demand for a Buddy Program amongst the international student community in Germany and that we were right to launch the DEGIS Buddy Program. We are looking forward to all the feedback we will receive and hope to share some beautiful testimonials of this program in the near future. If you are interested in joining the DEGIS Buddy Program, follow our social media accounts and apply within the deadlines.
We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces in our program!
Your DEGIS National Team
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