BusiBuddy: Connecting local and international students at Zagreb campus


December 6, 2019

Can you imagine what it feels like being 18 or 20 years old and moving to a new country, a new continent to live there? What if the culture you moved to was completely different from what you're used to? Well, Emily Arnold, a senior studying International Business in Zagreb can relate to this. Moving from Wisconsin, USA, to Croatia, she knows how big of a change this brings. And that is specifically why she is running International Students Club. „The International Students Club has 10 full-time international students who are fully dedicated to the international community on the Zagreb campus", says Emily. „However, our reach goes even further when including the 20 study abroad international students who we create events and cultural experiences for. Since last semester we've arranged museum visits, hiking, Croatian lectures with Professor Schmidt and other opportunities for them to connect with the country and each other". Seeing what an impact such activities have for the students made Emily think bigger. She came up with a BusiBuddy program with the aim to connect local students with international ones to help them integrate and immerse themselves into Croatian environment. „I came up with the program after getting to know the international students better. When they moved here, especially those students who didn't have the benefit of coming in a group, they experience major culture shock. The language can be intimidating and it's difficult for them to push out of their comfort zones.  Because of this, many of them stay within the international community which holds them back from having a truly authentic Croatian experience. Last year I had the opportunity of visiting a friend who was on Erasmus and after seeing the Erasmus Buddy Network, I decided to launch a similar program on our campus!"

Emily started working on this project soon after the International Students Club was up set up in Zagreb, and says it has been her passion project ever since. She reached out to some of the faculty who decided to jump in and make themselves available to help Emily and make the program successful. „Professor Ana Marija Šimundić was my first supporter in making this program a reality", says Emily and adds: „As the implementation has begun this semester, Professor Nina Antičić has given substantial guidance from her experience setting up a similar program at another university". And how is this program supposed to work? Emily says that they are now sending out invites to all interested students to apply to the program, and is looking to get 10 local students to be buddies. „The applicant will then be given a short orientation with the expectation that they will reach out to their international buddies before the spring semester begins. When everyone gets back from the holiday break, we'll have an event to introduce everyone to their buddies and get the bonding started. We then encourage the local students to introduce their buddies to their own unique perspective into Croatian culture, where they like to hang out, introduce them to friends in and outside of campus and lend a helping hand when their buddy needs it. The club will check in on them to make sure things are going well and encourage them to go to the events we plan throughout the semester."

Now, having heard the story, the only thing we can say is – we'll do our part in keeping you posted. You do yours; please contact the International Student club (isc.zagreb.rit@gmail.com), and – apply!

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