Buddies of the year
Photo: Valeriia Melnik
All of you know about “fadders” for Norwegian students. But do you know that exchange students have something similar? International students’ “fadders” are called “buddies” and their duties differ from Norwegian fadders’. In this article, you will find interesting details about this year’s buddies: who they are, what their responsibilities are, and why they are so good (or maybe so bad).
This year’s buddies are Samuel Seeland, Sigurd Gjerstad Mølmann, and John Ferdie Abueg. We asked them several questions which help to better understand the job the buddies do.
Why have you decided to become buddies for international students?
First and foremost, I like to do stuff and I like to hang out, have fun, and make new friends. Last year most of my close friends were international students and we had a lot of fun together. Also, I want to do Erasmus myself, so I thought it would be a nice idea to apply. So I just sent an email that I wanted to become a buddy. Then I was invited to an interview.Samuel
I heard about this opportunity from Samuel and found it interesting for me. I know that last year exchange students were not happy with their buddies. As Samuel, I got to know a lot of exchange students and really want to become an exchange student myself. So, I thought that it was the perfect next step to becoming an exchange student, to learn how it is to be an exchange student. Also, I wanted to give new students the best welcome they could have in a new school and new country.Sigurd
Last year students from different countries suggested that we could be good buddies for international students as we were good fadders for Norwegian students. That was actually the main point. I didn’t have an idea before they told me.Samuel
I also got to meet people last year and I also was a fadder. But this year I wanted to try to be a buddy for exchange students because I felt bad that they didn’t have good buddies. The most important for me is an intercultural exchange, so we can learn from each other. I also want other Norwegian students to meet more people from around the world and build connections between Norwegian and international students.John
Can you tell more about this interview at the university?
Rebecca who works in the international office called us for the interview to check if we were qualified for the job. You should have some qualities to be a buddy: be an open person, warm-hearted, and social. You have to be people’s person. We just talked for an hour with her.Samuel
Photo: John Ferdie Abueg
What events have you already arranged and what are your plans for next the few months? How do you find ideas?
We know fadders and we thought that it would be great to arrange some big parties with Norwegian students. Last year students didn’t get to learn much about Norwegian culture and didn’t meet a lot of Norwegians. So, in the middle of July, a month before Fadderukene we planned all parties for these first weeks. We had Opening Day when we met all the new ones and gave them all the most important information. We went to the cafe and it was really fun. Every day on the Fadderukene we had parties and some events. These weeks I met most of the people. I think on the third day we knew almost 60 names.Samuel
Most of the events are organized by the university. They have a certain budget and some events have been already planned. The trip to “Klatring på Grensen” and the coming trip to Oslo is paid for by the university. You can come up with ideas and ask if they can pay a little bit or give all money that is needed for your event. But the budget is really tight. After Fadderukene some exchange students asked if we could do this or that. And then we, buddies, think that it could be cool to have everybody doing this activity.Sigurd
I organized the music quiz because it helped to get to know everyone, and I wanted exchange students to know them among themselves in a fun way. I got feedback that they were thankful to have an opportunity to see each other in a fun way dancing and singing. I asked for financial support for these events, but I got denied. In the future, I want to plan easy stuff like marshmallow evening, campfire, and hikes to see more of Halden.John
Several times you mentioned that you got good feedback. So, you think that you are better than buddies last year, right?
Last year the second-semester exchange students had exchange students as buddies. This year we chose the responsibility of being a buddy, we were very eager to be buddies. Last year this responsibility was thrown to other exchange students, but we actually want the responsibility, we want to do our best to give exchange students the best year they can have. And we are not exchange students who are also trying also to have the best year we can have ourselves.Sigurd
Also, we received positive feedback from the international office. It is really giving and makes our job more meaningful.Samuel
Photo: Laetitia Hilgendorf
Is it difficult and hard to be a buddy?
The answer is both yes and no. Our job is basically to be the main responsible ones and, we are people who connect people. And what I can find challenging is days when I feel introverted, and I have to go to people and be fun, cool, and social.Samuel
I agree. It is pretty easy, especially when our “children” are eager to learn stuff. Also, the most challenging part for me is the same as for Samuel. But of course, we knew that going into the position as a buddy our responsibility is to be their contact person as well as a person to give them information and help for the whole semester and not just the Fadderukene which Norwegian students have with their fadders.Sigurd
It seems that this year’s buddies are so good. But are they in reality? We interview 16 exchange students and all of them are satisfied with the buddies. Most of them find climbing and parties the best events that have already happened. However, they think that some things can be improved. For example, it would be better to arrange more organized trips inside and outside of Halden, hikes, board games, and just more activities throughout the whole semester, not only in the beginning. But students from Fredrikstad are the ones who feel excluded because Halden is the central place for all events and in the evening, it is really hard to get back to Fredrikstad so these students just can’t be a part of most of the activities. They hope more events can be organized in Fredrikstad.
To conclude this article, we want to say this year’s buddies set a very high level of how to be almost perfect buddies and we are unsure if someone can repeat their success. Even though they have something to work on, they are eager to become better, and probably at the end of the semester, we’ll see only positive reviews on their work.