The Buddy Network: Building Cross-Cultural Relationships
Artyom Sedov, a student of HSE in St. Petersburg is currently pursuing his Master’s Programme in Marketing Technologies. Aside from studying, he is also participating in the volunteer programme called ”Student Buddies” — using his free time to help international students with everyday issues. Artyom gave an interview to the HSE news service about the buddy network.
Artyom, you are a buddy. What does it mean?
For me being a buddy means helping international students adapt to their new environment and being a reliable and supportive friend for them.
What kind of duties do you have as a buddy?
Initially you have to pick up new international students from the airport or the train station. Then you help them to find their way around the city and show them some useful places nearby, like grocery stores, banks etc. After that, you can just spend time with your students and show them the coolest places in St. Petersburg.
What is the most important thing about being a buddy? What about the most interesting thing?
The most important thing is mutual understanding. Never be nervous, angry or confused — you always have to keep a cool head and solve problems when they appear. You need to be ready to talk and to listen.
The most interesting thing is communicating with foreigners. As a buddy, you have a chance to communicate with people from all over the world — this is why it’s worth it.
How much time do you spend working as a buddy?
It depends on your student. But I think that it’s reasonable to meet, for example, every weekend. If you wish to spend more time with your students, you can do that. So, being a part of the HSE Buddy Network won’t take up too much time — it can easily be combined with studies and work.
How many students are you currently working as a buddy for?
At this moment, I have two students; a student from Hungary and an intern from Finland.
I’m also going to be a buddy for a student from Ghana, who will arrive soon. So, I plan to work with three people at the same time.
Would you recommend becoming a buddy? What does one need to be a good buddy for an international student?
I would recommend it to everyone.
Basically every student of HSE can become a buddy after a year of studying in St. Petersburg. But they must speak English fluently, as well as have a sense of responsibility and curiosity.
Why did you decide to become a buddy?
Last year I was an exchange student in Hungary. While I was there I got acquainted with the buddy programme and this kind of activity seemed very interesting.
When I came back, I decided to engage in this activity at HSE. But this time I’m doing the opposite — now I’m helping other students.
If a student is interested in becoming a buddy, what should they do?
First of all, you should talk to the International Office at HSE. You can contact our managers at any time; they are always ready to hear from you. Then you need to fill in the application form and wait for the result.
If you have shown initiative, it already means you’re well on your way to becoming a buddy!
Prepared by Ida Salomaa, CIMO Trainee at the Centre for International Cooperation, HSE St. Petersburg