The GSLS Buddy Programme

Quickly integrate within the Graduate School of Life Sciences

Oude gracht Utrecht

Foreign students have many questions and uncertainties when they start their studies in Utrecht. They each come with a different background. The Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) Buddy Programme helps international GSLS Master's students integrate quickly and easily.

“Helping international students in their first months of the new Master’s programme until they feel settled and familiar with their environment, so that they feel more comfortable in an unknown study programme, learning, and living environment – ​​that is the goal of the Buddy Programme”, says Meghanadh Manyam, now second year Master’s student Epidemiology at the GSLS.

Especially difficult for Meghanadh in the beginning was the way in which education is provided. “Here it is not the teachers who transfer all information top-down, as in India. There the teachers speak, students listen. What is different here is that teachers provide the students with the necessary basic knowledge, after which you get to work yourself, do your own research, and acquire knowledge yourself. Everything is done in collaboration with teachers. That takes some time to adjust, especially because in the beginning you feel insecure in another country anyway.”

Bicycle shops

A buddy also provides information about, for example, registering for courses, locations of university buildings, good bicycle shops. “But also about something as simple as how the printers work,” Meghanadh adds. “They are all linked to a system, convenient to know from the start.”

Social skills

Students who participate in the Buddy Programme are matched with students who are enrolled in the same study. New is the workshop for starting buddies. Meghanadh: “This workshop provides tools in the field of social skills and cultural differences. For example, students from the Middle East and Asia may have other questions than students from the United States and other European countries.”

Meghanadh concludes: “If I had had a buddy at the time, I would have immediately received the right practical information about which courses I could take, about the interaction between teachers and students and what my own contribution is to the most effective organisation of my Master’s programme. Therefore, I advise every foreign student to make use of the Buddy Programme.”