They say time flies when you are having fun and uni is no exception. Whether you’re just starting out in your first year or doing your third PhD researching the floccinaucinihilipilification of Australian males aged seventeen to nineteen, it will soon be over before you can even Google what that means.
If you thought your two-year Master’s degree went quickly, spare a thought for the exchange students from overseas, who usually only have six months to truly get the most out of their short-term stay both at UniSA and in Australia.
Moving to an entirely new country without knowing anyone can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately for them, there are local students who are here to help.
Operating since 2017, UniSA Buddies is a program run by UniSA students whose mission is to welcome exchange students studying at UniSA and help them to embrace Australian culture. As of 2019 it is now a registered USASA Club and also receives assistance from the University’s International Office.
The club’s membership currently consists of twenty local students, five of whom are executive members. At the time of writing more than 150 exchange students are supported by UniSA Buddies.
This year the new exchange students attended a large welcome event during O-Week, which featured several games to help everyone get to know each other. Some of the activities included playing ‘two truths and a lie’ as well as a campus tour of City West Campus. The exchange students were put into groups of eight and assigned a local ‘buddy’ who acted as a point of contact.
Once this was done a group-selfie competition took place with the winning group receiving the most Australian of prizes – a packet of Tim Tams. Kudos to the committee who spent a lot of time and placed a lot of thoughtful planning into organising activities to ensure that all these new students felt included and were well orientated.
As exchange students, many are only here for a semester so the UniSA Buddies club also runs a program in SP5, for those coming later in the year. The Buddies offer support throughout the duration of the exchange offering advice and practical assistance.
This is a great initiative and the UniSA Buddies scheme is instrumental in ensuring the experience of students here on exchange is a positive one. However, it is incumbent on all of us to make sure we make guests at our uni feel welcome and comfortable.
Words by Ryan Colsey
Image supplied by UniSA Buddies