To help international students get on their feet once they arrive in Rotterdam, ESN Rotterdam hosts a buddy-program throughout the year. “We want to establish a social and academic network for incoming students which makes their stay more worthwhile”, says says Veronica Åkerblad, Head of the Marketing, PR and New Media committee.

The ESN buddy-system

International students arriving in Rotterdam can request a buddy through ESN Rotterdam. These buddies are students from Erasmus University that can show the incoming students around the campus and the city alike and help them with any possible issues they come across. Each buddy helps about five students get around in Rotterdam and The Netherlands overall as well as practical matter such as how to get a Dutch bank account and where to buy a cheap bike.

First meeting

Mark van Zee (25) is a Dutch master student in supply chain management has several buddies, one of which is Javi Roncalés (22), a Spanish law student. “We met on the day he and some of his friends arrived at the hostel in Blaak”, says van Zee. Roncalés and his friends arrived at the hostel late due to a flight delay. “Although we were so late, Mark received us with a big smile on his face”, Roncalés says, “he had been in Spain before and he knows about our punctuality, so he was not surprised.”

Learning each others culture

The ESN buddies are students with a diverse background can also teach the internationals about their culture as well as the Dutch culture. “When I studied in Spain myself, my Spanish friends there taught me everything I needed to know about the country, gastronomy and their customs”, says van Zee (25), “I became a buddy because I liked the idea of doing the same for exchange students here in the Netherlands.”

Practical help

Van Zee helped Roncalés mainly with small issues. “I informed them on how things work in the Netherlands, which days the students go out and where, which cities to visit in Holland, and he even asked if I could teach him a few basic words in Dutch,” says van Zee. “Mark is always willing to help me and offers nice plans to do”, adds Roncalés.

From buddies to friends

Besides the practical help, Van Zee and Roncalés do a lot of things together. Besides going to the ESN hosted BED nights on Tuesday, they watch football together or go to the gym. “I truly have not seen any better buddies than Mark and me”, says Roncalés. Van Zee smiling, “I now see him as a good friend instead of just a buddy who I help out. I’ll definitely stay in touch.” Both van Zee and Roncalés know other students enrolled in the buddy-system who have become really good friends.

Want a buddy or become one?

ESN is now recruiting for buddies for the second semester. You can apply by send an e-mail to [email protected] with a short motivation and attach your CV. If you want to request a buddy, that can be done online here. NdB.