Buddies give ‘home away from home’ to international students

By Howest University of Applied Sciences

Howest University of Applied Sciences doesn’t mind boasting about its lively and ever-growing global community and for good reason! No fewer than 86 nationalities are represented across the Howest campuses in Kortrijk and Bruges, with students coming from all over the world to follow one of our English taught programmes and courses, including 6 bachelor’s degrees, 2 post-graduate certificates, 23 semester exchanges and a European master’s degree.

Whichever programme it is that brought them to Howest, all of our international students are sure to be introduced to many new experiences, both enjoyable and challenging. New culture, new study habits, new routines, new foods, new people and more! It can all be a bit overwhelming. That’s why Howest created its network of buddies, a program that connects international students with local students, making it that bit easier to adjust to their new world.

For every international student a buddy!

Howest’s Buddy Program matches every single incoming international student with a local student who will help the new arrival to find their way and feel quickly at home.

Our buddies are Howest students who make it their task to welcome and inform the international students from the moment they arrive in Belgium, if not sooner. Buddies can be the first friendly face to meet internationals when they arrive at the airport or train station in town. They introduce them to Howest, helping them navigate the ins and outs of student life on campus. They show their international pals around the city and help them adjust to life in Belgium, which involves far more than just tasting the fine chocolates and fries.

The goal is to ensure that all incoming students are supported throughout their stay at Howest and in Belgium. Most importantly, they help internationals to feel at home in their new school, city and country. Connecting international students with Belgian students, locals who know their way around, is the best way to do this.

Maider, who came to Howest from Spain to study Industrial Product Design, sums it up like this:

“A kind and friendly door to go to, that’s what meeting my buddy has been for me. When you go to a new place it’s always scary to start communicating: to find a place, the most convenient train or places to go to do your shopping or get your bike fixed. It’s lucky to have a person on the other side to ask those absurd but necessary questions that we sometimes struggle with.”

Of course, the benefits of the buddy network go both ways. Local students learn just as much from their international pals and get to enjoy making new friends from all around the world. In many cases, our buddies and pals become friends for life!

Super buddy, Pjotr, has been buddy to many international students. He had this to say about the experience:

Last semester was the third time that I was a buddy. I really love how the international community connects people from all over the globe. This international community teaches you about this weird place we call earth and all its amazing people. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons.” 

Designated international hang-outs and events on campus

Both Kortrijk and Bruges have designated international hubs where international students and their buddies can meet up, study, play, and relax. There are also a number of special events planned each semester, including a Global Taste Affair, to help foster a true “global community” feel on campus.

Don’t take it from us, see what our students have to say! 

“It has been an amazing semester so far! I like my buddy and because of him I got the chance to meet other classmates and, to be honest, so far this is one of my best experiences,” said Digital Arts and Entertainment student Viktoria of her first months spent at Howest with her buddy.

To hear more from Howest buddies and pals, check out our student testimonials. Or follow us on Instagram to see the most up to date photos and stories.

Our buddies look forward to welcoming future international students into the Howest Global Community. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of our next buddy-pal matches!

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