Buddy project 'makes a difference' for starting student

| Stan Waning

The UT Buddy Project concluded its fall 2020 edition this week. Board member Nishant Mishra speaks of a success; over two hundred new students were paired with a buddy. ‘They had something to look forward to every two weeks.’

The buddy board, with Nishant Mishra on the left.

Because as an international student, go figure. How do you ground yourself in a totally foreign world, in which, because of the corona crisis, there is also hardly anything possible? ‘Especially in the last six months, we have made a difference for more than two hundred new students.’ Mishra is not afraid to take that position. 'The kick-off is a nice way to get acquainted with the university, but there's not much more to it in the beginning. Certainly not when almost everything is online. In the buddy program, you have something to look forward to every two weeks.'


The buddy board provides an annual pick-up service from Schiphol Airport to Enschede in August and September. Board members also organize speed dates for newcomers. ‘The speed dates we now do mainly online. I heard good stories from the participants. Apart from your online classes and your neighbors, there is almost no way to get in touch with new people. The cafes are closed and sports are not allowed. I'm proud that we can catch up in that.'

When Mishra came to Twente from India a year and a half ago, he also signed up. After six months he switched roles and became a buddy himself. ‘And now I am secretary on the board. I have filled all the roles by now. Promotion is no longer an option for me, but I am happy with the role I now fulfill. It takes a lot of time, but it is satisfying.’

All over the world

According to the Electrical Engineering master's student, the program does not select the groups based on common interests. 'That's what happens at sports associations, for example. Here you don't have to have something in common. Students from all over the world apply. Even students from the Netherlands. We try to help each other with practical things, like where to buy a bicycle. Introducing newcomers to Dutch customs is a priority for us. That's why we often celebrate Sinterklaas and hold quizzes about the Netherlands.'

Already 86 students have signed up for the new program for the next six months. 'And that number is going to increase, we expect. That's a good sign.'

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