ESN Barcelona UPF always tries to help international students integrate with the city and the university, and one of the programs we’re more proud of is the Buddy Program. In this project, a group of foreign students is assigned to a Spanish one (who has already applied for it voluntarily), in order to make the beginning of international students’ experience abroad much easier. The aim of the program is that they can have someone they can count on, and ask them all about Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University at the beginning of their stay. This way, the international student will already have a personal contact even before they get to their new city.

This term, Paula and Sophie have established an extraordinary friendship through the Buddy Program!

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Paula is a Spanish student from Reus, a small town in South Tarragona, but she’s currently living in Barcelona as she follows her studies in Translation at UPF. Last year, she lived her Erasmus experience in London, where she stayed for one semester.

Sophie is a British student from Leeds, but she studies in Newcastle and she’s come to UPF to follow her studies abroad. She already knew some Spanish before she arrived in Barcelona, especially after her stay in Madrid. She’s leaving Spain in December, so we’ve asked them about their experience in the Buddy Program.

- What do you think about your experience in the Buddy Program?

Paula: My experience has been very good, since I have had the luck of having a fantastic Erasmus Buddy with whom I have shared amazing times during her stay and with whom I will definitely keep in touch to see her soon.

Sophie: It was very positive. Not only did I meet someone who helped me integrate into student life in Barcelona and settle in to living in Spain, but more importantly I met someone who very quickly became a genuine friend of whom I know I will keep in contact with even after my time in Barcelona is over.

- What did you expect from the Buddy Program?

Sophie: In all honesty I did not expect very much from the Buddy Programme as I have never signed up to anything like it before, but in the end I was very glad that I did choose to participate and it exceeded my expectations.

- Why did you decide to become a Local Buddy?

Paula: Erasmus was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life, so when I discovered this program I did not hesitate to be part of it. I was very interested in being able to help an Erasmus student and to make the most of her experience in Barcelona.

- Did it help you integrate with the city and the university?

Sophie: Yes, definitely. If I had any problems I knew that I would be able to speak to Paula which made integrating with the city and university much easier. Also, having Paula as my buddy meant that we could meet up and she was able to show me different parts of the city from a local's point of view which was much more interesting and fun than having to discover everything as a tourist perhaps would.

- Can you tell us an anecdote you have lived with your Erasmus/Local Buddy?

Paula: The first day we met, we went for drinks at a bar with some friends. But what started as "a couple of drinks" ended up being a group of friends drinking a few litres of sangria. And to top it off, I forgot my wallet at home.

Sophie: It was to be the first of many fabulous nights and I knew then that I had made friends with the best person :-)

- What have you learned about this experience?

Paula: I have been able to improve my English level and know a little bit more about British culture and its traditions.

- Do you think it is a useful program for international students? How would you improve it?

Sophie: Yes, it's a great way of meeting students from Barcelona and making new friends.

Paula: I think it is a very useful program for international students for different reasons: it helps them to adapt to the city life, allows them to discover and know a different and probably new culture from their own, and finally to learn or improve not one but two languages (Spanish and Catalan).

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All in all, we’re glad we’ve been able to share with you the wonderful experience Paula & Sophie have had with the Buddy Program. After having talked to them about it, we’re sure the friendship they have made in Barcelona will last for a long time.

In case you’re an international student coming to Barcelona next semester or a local student that would like to meet and help people from other countries, don’t hesitate to join the Buddy Program to be part of this rich experience!

Many thanks to Paula and Sophie for sharing their experience.