The international students of the IBEB program are fortunate to be provided with an extraordinary service. In cooperation with the EFR, the IBEB study provides a personal Buddy for every “freshman”. The aim is to smoothen out the very first steps of the young students coming from abroad. EM Online has interviewed some Buddies and their protégés about their impressions.

To start with the entire Buddy program is on a voluntary basis. “I heard that they are looking for volunteers, so I subscribed,” says James, an IBEB student from Palestine. Beginning of July he was assigned to take care of Elad, who is from Israel. Halfway through July they got in contact via email and James would answer all the questions Elad would send him. “James is a very kind Buddy,” says Elad, underlining the friendly relationship that has evolved over the weeks. Next to Elad James will also take care of a French and a German student during the coming weeks. “The program lasts as long as they want to. Whenever there are questions, I’m there to help,” James describes his position.

Marije & Simone

James (l) & Elad

Two weeks waiting

Simone from Italy was very glad to have a local contact in Rotterdam, whom he could ask questions. “Via the university service center the information flows very slowly, you wait for two weeks for a response email,” he says, pointing out the advantage of being in contact directly with a student. For his Buddy Marije, the EFR International Officer and person in charge oft he Buddy program, it seems to be a great success and definitely an interesting experience.

Arrange a room

“First we only had email contact, but now that he’s in Rotterdam we exchanged numbers,” she says and adds that in some cases new students don’t even have a room when arriving. “In some cases I can arrange a room for them, if a friend is on exchange,” she says, pointing out another advantage of the personal contact before and after the freshmen arrive.


Nick is a Dutch IBEB student who volunteered for the Buddy program. Originally three students were assigned to him. “So I wrote them to get in contact, but sadly only one replied”, Nick says a bit disappointed. As the program is voluntary for both sides nobody has to respond to the Buddies. Nevertheless he tried hard using Facebook and sending them his cell phone number in case they had any questions anyway. “The Bulgarian student who responded seemed really excited about his arrival to Rotterdam, so we had email contact and I told him to call me once he arrives, which is going to be tomorrow.” In Nick’s opinion “there is a clear appreciation of the program by the new students, but the first contact seems difficult sometimes”. 



‘She gave me good advice’

Having visited the Netherlands several times before, Susanne from Germany still thinks it’s a big difference to finally move to a place. “I had no idea how the public transportation system works and was really happy to have someone to turn to” she says, referring to her Indian Buddy Kirthana. Due to her advice she is not sleeping between hundreds in the Sportshall, but shares a place at a student fraternity. “I emailed her about the Eureka week and luckily listened to her advice.”

Incidentally, it is not only international IBEB students who are benefitting from the program. A new friend of Susanne is Dutch and asked for a Buddy as well. “Although she’s from the Netherlands she has never lived in a big city like Rotterdam and is really glad for the many tips and tricks of the experienced Buddies” Susanne comments. CM