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The Buddy System

Eleanor O'Brien

December, 2016

The International Buddy System first began in 2013 as an initiative from the Trinity Business School to help exchange students integrate with Trinity students on an academic and social level by providing them with a Trinity student as a ‘buddy’. It is a separate initiative to the established society of Student2Student and focuses largely on social events. Since the earlier days of its conception the Buddy System has gone from strength to strength incorporating not just students in the Business School, but also those in the Schools of Social Sciences, including Economics, Political Science and Sociology.

This year the committee of eight final year students and the coordinator, Jimmy White, are determined to make the Buddy System a worthwhile and attractive feature of choosing an exchange at Trinity and to gain more visibility in the university. Over 230 exchange students and 110 Trinity students signed up in 2016, this was a huge increase on the past years and demonstrates the growing popularity of the initiative. In pairing the exchange students with Trinity students, in a ratio of 2:1, the committee aims to foster a common ground between the buddies to ease the exchange students into life at Trinity.

The language spoken by the students and the exchange school they are from are the main factors taken into consideration when pairing students. Many of the Trinity students who volunteer as buddies have spent time abroad during their third year, which gives them the necessary perspective to help with the issues that they themselves once experienced, such as making friends in a foreign country and finding places to socialise. The benefit to the Trinity students, although many are busy in final year, is the opportunity to mix with other cultures and gain a different perspective on Trinity College. Things the students here take for granted or assume to be normal are often questioned by exchange students. However, the excellent reputation of Trinity worldwide is often highlighted as a deciding factor in the exchange students’ decision to study here.

Each semester the committee aims to host five social events for the students. Popular events in recent years have been an International Dinner, cliff walks in Bray and Howth, Christmas Commons, Pub Quizzes, Irish movie screenings and more. These events are designed to give the exchange students an opportunity to meet each other and Trinity students, while experiencing a mix of cultures, such as at the International Dinner – sampling crêpes or blini, or a part of Irish culture, for example watching The Commitments to help better understand the Dublin accent. The students come from all over the world, as far as Sydney and China and as close as the Netherlands or France and are always eager to find out more about the culture in Ireland. For them the benefits of studying here are immense, such as improved language skills and adaptability, and it gives them the opportunity to build lasting friendships, hopefully through the Buddy System.

If you are an Exchange student and would like to link up with the Buddy System, please contact tcdbuddysystem@gmail.com.