COB Arthur Stonehill International Business Exchange Buddy Program
By Ashlie Cooper, Business Information Systems and Entrepreneurship major, College of Business
Moving to a country that you have never visited before can be very intimidating for even the most ambitious of young college students. After packing all of your belongings, flying overseas and arriving at your new home and starting a new school, settling in can be an overwhelming process. It can be hard to make friends, too, as an international student. If you’ve ever been the “new kid” you might have a sense of what some may feel shortly after arriving. In a country different than your own, there may be variances in language, culture and environment, which can create a barrier when attempting to connect with others. Luckily, when students in the College of Business Exchange Program travel internationally to Oregon State University, they are offered the opportunity to have a friend through the COB Buddy Program.
Becoming a buddy can also appeal to local students as well, giving them a unique opportunity to make a friend and create an intercontinental partnership. The COB exchange program partners with 13 colleges worldwide, including Spain, Thailand, Germany, along with several others. Being a buddy essentially means that you are volunteering your support as a friend to an international student. Helping someone become acclimated to a new environment can be very rewarding for both parties. As they arrive in the states, many buddies will meet their international counterpart at the airport to welcome them, give some direction and answer any questions they may have. Buddies are often the first friend that an incoming exchange student makes.
Being a part of the exchange program can be incredibly beneficial to both parties involved. Building a relationship with someone of another culture and perspective can help with developing a deeper understanding of these differences. Networking, building a connection with others, and leadership are all critical skill to have in the business field, making it a great way for students to build skills through real life experience.
Buddy Time Commitments
It’s recommended that buddies schedule at least one hour a week to spend time together, whether it be going to an event on campus, or just catching up over coffee. Buddies are also encouraged to invite their new friend to a variety of activities, to help them feel welcomed at OSU. Each buddy relationship is an open-ended partnership, whose terms are mostly determined by each individual buddy relationship. Many turn into lifelong friendships and can really shape the experience a student has on their travels abroad.
The College of Business is the only program on campus that gives international exchange students an opportunity to partner up with an OSU full-time student. Since international business is of great interest to many students, developing this type of understanding can assist in future international interactions.
Becoming a buddy was a great decision for me because it’s allowed me to meet many people I would not have had the opportunity to otherwise. I’ve learned a lot about the differences between our world at OSU and universities in other countries, not to mention, learning to be a good friend and helping my buddy adjust and feel welcome.
Students who want to become a buddy at OSU complete a short survey to indicate their preferences for gender, home country, and even specify if they speak another language, in order to be matched appropriately with an incoming exchange student. Most of the time, a buddy will just be for one term, but some students stay for two or more terms. Students who decide to become a buddy will often choose to apply again, because of the great experiences they had with their new international friends.
How the Buddy System Helps
Christina Knudsen, an international exchange student from Denmark, shared why the COB Buddy Program was important to her. “I decided to sign up for the buddy program because it was an opportunity to establish contact with a person that would be able to help me with whatever question I could come up with. I’m far away from home, which means that the buddy program gave me an opportunity to get in touch with someone who would be able to guide me in the right direction. It made my trip to the US a whole lot easier knowing that a person would welcome me. Being paired with a great buddy like Ashlie was just a lucky coincidence!”
Connie Caddis, the assistant international exchange coordinator and College of Business academic advisor has goals of growing the program into a student club. Students could join to share their international experiences and plan events and outings together. With the program growing, she envisions more events for participants to engage in creating an atmosphere in which students can intermingle and build lasting relationships. “I’d love to see more events be planned for buddies to attend to allow a comfortable place to spend time together, like a day trip to Newport Beach, or a hike and picnic outing in the local area,” Caddis said. Making the program into a club will also allow for greater funding opportunities and student involvement.
“Studying abroad opens people’s eyes to different cultures. One thing I learned from incoming exchange students is that they always perceive everyone in the States as so friendly. I’m glad they get that impression” Caddis adds, “And many are impressed by all the facilities and resources we have on campus. We’re lucky to have such a great campus where there are plenty of things going on every day.”
How to Get Involved
To get involved in the COB international exchange buddy program, students are encouraged to apply online, or contact Connie Caddis with questions or concerns. Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2017 term. This is a great opportunity for COB students to branch out, learn something new, and change your perspective. Visit this webpage for more information: http://business.oregonstate.edu/advising/international-business-option/be-cob-buddy
(Pictured: Ashlie on left and her international exchange buddy, Christina)