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The Humanities Buddy Programme: A home away from home

Moving to a different city as a student can be a daunting prospect, let alone to a different country. Each year, many students come to Leiden, and many find a home away from home thanks to the Humanities Master’s Buddy Programme. Kathleen Burke and Victor Jarzargaray experienced it first-hand. “It’s so nice to know that there’s always someone there for you.”

Feeling welcome

“I’ve studied in Paris, Berlin and London and they’re huge metropolises with a lot going on”, says Australian student Dutch Colonial Studies Kathleen Burke, who studies in Leiden for a semester. “But I think I never really experienced student life before I came to Leiden. It was so well organised, so welcoming to come here. Most of the information is available in English, there’s an international introduction week but most of all the Humanities Buddy Programme provides you with an opportunity to meet people and explore the country. It far exceeded my expectations.”

Kathleen Burke: “Coming to Leiden far exceeded my expectations.”

What is the Buddy Programme?

The Humanities Faculty has set up a Buddy Programme for Master’s students to help Dutch and international students quickly integrate into the university and student life in Leiden. Twice a year, international students and students from outside Leiden are paired up with a Dutch or experienced international student, who is their go-to person for questions about daily student life in Leiden.

Depending on the students’ schedules, the students meet in small groups once or twice a month, and regular trips are organized for all buddy programme participants. This year, students went to the Rijksmuseum, the Sieboldhuis Japan Museum and a boat trip through Leiden’s canals.

The best Leiden experience

Victor Jarzagaray came from Aruba to The Hague and first signed up for the Buddy Programme as a participant. In the second semester of his Master International Relations he decided to become a buddy himself. Victor: “I really wanted to give back what I got from the programme. When you’re an international student coming to Leiden or The Hague, the ‘feeling of home’ isn’t there, but the Buddy Programme makes you feel like you belong. Like you have somebody to count on, that can introduce you to the right apps about transport or the weather. All these little things you can’t call your mom about. They also show you all the great things in the city. It gives you the best experience of Leiden during your studies”

Victor Jarzagaray: “The Humanities Buddy Programme gives you the best experience of Leiden.”

Growing your network

Next to providing you with a much needed support system in a new city, the programme also allows you to explore the country and grow your network. Kathy: “I especially liked the communal events and how well they were thought out. I went to all of them, it provides the opportunity to meet each other.”

Victor agrees: “The social aspect is very important. I’ve met people from all around the world and it allows you to grow in multicultural situations. I now have a huge international network and with Facebook you can have friendships that last forever. I would advise anyone to join the buddy programme, you won’t regret it.”

The Humanities Master's Buddy programme

How do I join the buddy programme?

Are you going to start a Master’s programme  at the Humanities Faculty? To get a buddy for the upcoming semester and participate in all the events and activities throughout the year, please complete this form before February 2, 2018. You will be given a buddy and added to a group with other new students before the semester starts to help you get settled.

How do I become a buddy?

The Humanities Faculty is looking for Master’s students to join their Buddy programme for the Spring semester. As a Buddy, you will be responsible for about 5 new Master’s students. You will help them settle in to life in Leiden (or The Hague) as comfortably as possibly. Interested? Sign up here.

If you have questions, please contact the Coordinator of the Buddy Programme, Marliese Vollebregt.

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