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The Buddy program operates on the ESN principle of "Students Helping Students" and is an opportunity for you to experience cultural exchange and make friendships across borders. 

ESN Bergen truly believes that a buddy program is an excellent way to welcome and introduce foreign students to the student life in Bergen. Additionally, we believe that a such program holds great advantage for both participants. Through Buddy Bergen you can be introduced to a new culture and perhaps even a new language.

If you have been an exchange student in the past, you probably remember how complicated it could be to face a new culture or just simply to navigate yourself around in a new city or at a new university. You might also have noticed that finding a network of friends among the local students at your university can be a tad more tricky than creating a network among other international students. Students that go abroad, leaving behind their comfort zone, are often much more spontaneous and outgoing. So if you wish to meet those kinds of students, join and become the Buddy every international student hope to meet. You might even find the inspiration you need to decide if or where you would like to have your own exchange adventure.

Learn more about the program and register!

Are you a Norwegian student or an international student who has lived in Norway for longer than one semester? Read here.

Are you an international student looking for a local Buddy? Read here.

Take a look at our Facebook-group, and our instagram-page: @buddybergen

If you are still hesitating and want to know more about the program:

In order to show you how the program works for the individual Buddy pairs, we have asked two of them about their experiences.

Øyvind (25, left, Norway) and Aleksander (22, Poland)

Fall Semester 2016

Dane (24, left, Norway) and Ilaria (19, Italy)

Fall Semester 2016

How did you learn about the Buddy program?

Øyvind: I did my BA in Stavanger, and I was a Buddy there already. When I came to Bergen, I was actively searching for a program like this, since I really wanted to continue being a Buddy for an international student.

Aleksander: I read about it in one of the Facebook groups way before coming here, and I decided to give it a shot.

Why did you decide to join the program?

Øyvind: I was an international student in Germany as well, and so I knew how important it is have some local help, for example with the paper work at the beginning of the semester. So I wanted to help other people with that, and also practice another language.

Aleksander: Like many other internationals, I live in Fantoft. Since there are not many Norwegians living there, and I am only here for one semester, I really wanted to get to know Norwegian students.

What do you do if you spend time together?

Øyvind: Usually, we meet for a coffee, or I show Aleksander some places of Bergen he does not know.

Aleksander: Øyvind has also been very helpful with planning trips around Norway! And of course with translating all the paper work.

What do you tell people that think about being a Buddy?

Øyvind: Usually, you only get one person. It does not cost you anything to say hello to one more person on campus. I feel like many people think it is a lot of work, but it definitely isn't.

Aleksander: As an international student, you can benefit from the language skills and learn a bit of Norwegian from your Buddy. Maybe your Buddy is someone who does see its city different than you. And, of course, you make a new friend in another country.

How did you learn about the Buddy program?

Dane: A friend of mine had a Buddy as well, and she was telling about the program, so I decided to sign up and try it.

Ilaria: I read about it in the university's brochure, and since I did not know anyone in the first place, I signed up for it.

Why did you decide to join the program?

Dane: I already knew some rudimentary Italian, since I have been travelling there a lot, and I wanted to improve it. Also, I find it cool to show a new person around in my town in a way they would probably not be able to.

Ilaria: (laughs) And I really like teaching Italian, so that is really fun! And I really did not know anyone, and I did not only want to meet internationals, but also some locals. Living in Fantoft does not facilitate getting to know the city and the locals' live through the eyes of a Norwegian.

What do you do if you spend time together?

Dane: We have a lot of coffee together, walk around the city, I tell her something about the history of Bergen. Stuff like that.

Ilaria: Or we have been trying to see the Northern lights, but since we lost the way, we ended up on the wrong mountain - anyways, it was a lot of fun!

What do you tell people that think about being a Buddy?

Dane: If you are curious about new people, about showing them around, then the ESN Buddy program is a must. In the best case, you find a friend in another country. And you learn something you cannot learn on Wikipedia.

Ilaria: I think when you are on exchange, you should take any opportunity to find a local friend, showing you around in the city and tell you about his or her country.


History of ESN Buddy

Buddy Bergen was established by Bergen Red Cross Youth in 2007, and in 2008 they had more than 600 participants. After an agreement with the Red Cross Bergen, ESN continued the Buddy program from 2014.

How does ESN Buddy work?

The program aims at pairing up one international student with one Norwegian student. The matching will be done according to anonymous profile descriptions filled out by both local and international students. The local students then pick their own Buddy based on the best match.