The Buddy Programme - Integration and social support for international students
Students studying abroad must adjust to a new culture and adapt to new surroundings different from home, and to other challenging life events during their sojourn in a foreign country. Previous research has shown that social life outside academic studies has a strong influence on one’s academic integration. This paper describes a buddy programme, operated by Umeå University (Sweden), which aims at the integration of international students through social support. The programme has been running for approximately 20 years, and over time its content and qualities have been improved. It has developed through a bottom-up approach, learning from the experiences of participating students, and has slowly developed into what it is today. Using data from the International Student Barometer, in this paper I show that the programme is highly appreciated and is an important part of international students’ life and experience in Umeå. However, the results also indicate variability across different dimensions of integration: there seems to be more success in integrating international students in social activities within the programme, whereas integration with domestic students proves to be somewhat more difficult.
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