Buddy Program

The Buddy Program is a volunteer-based program that fosters one-on-one relationships between Canadian students and international students at the University of Ottawa.

What is the Buddy Program?

The Buddy Program is a volunteer-based uOttawa program that pairs upper-year students (Canadian or international) with newly admitted international and exchange students. It aims to help international students transition to a new environment during their first months at uOttawa. The program provides an excellent opportunity to meet students from other cultures and to improve language skills. It can also help returning Canadian students cope with reverse culture shock by allowing them to share their experiences with international students who are facing the challenges and joys of a new environment.

Note :
InformationThe program is not intended to help you with the admissions process or financial support. We invite you to learn more about undergraduate admissions or graduate and postdoctoral studies. For information regarding financial support, contact Financial Aid and Awards.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

Current uOttawa students who enrol as volunteers in this program must commit to being fully available to participate and maintain contact with their buddy for a full term. If they foresee they are unable to participate, they must inform the coordinator before the matching deadline by sending an email to amigo@uOttawa.ca.

Upper-year students include:

  • Domestic students, i.e. Canadians and permanent residents, who have been uOttawa students for more than two terms or eight months.
  • International students who have been uOttawa students for at least two terms

International students include:

  • Newly admitted undergraduate, Master’s or PhD students
  • Exchange students (completing one or two terms at uOttawa)

*Special students and research fellows are not eligible for the Buddy Program.

Participant Responsibilities

Incoming international/exchange students :

  •  Contact and interact with your assigned buddy: if you do not receive an email with contact information for your assigned buddy by the date indicated on the application form, send an email to amigo@uOttawa.ca before the beginning of the term.
  • Maintain realistic expectations of support from your buddy: remember, your buddy is a student too and may not have time to communicate with you or help you every day. Therefore, remember to be patient and understanding when coordinating plans or communicating with them.

Upper-Year students :

  • Complete the mandatory training before the beginning of the term.
  • Contact and interact with your assigned buddy through the contact information they provide, both before they arrive and in person once they are here.
  • Meet with your buddy at least three times in the first two weeks of the term to ensure they settle in.
  • Contact your buddy at least once every two weeks for the entire term.
  • It is up to you to decide the extent of your involvement with your buddy. You are encouraged to help show them around the city, but meeting with them over a cup of coffee to answer their questions or give them advice is also helpful.

Upper Year Students

We do not expect you to answer every question your buddy could ask: that is why we set up mandatory training with key information. Our office is also a first point of contact if you are unsure how to help your buddy. Your assistance will help the international or exchange student adapt to their new surroundings. If you would like, you can volunteer to meet your buddy when they arrive at the Ottawa airport, train, or bus station, and accompany them to their residence. You could also help the student with administrative steps and introduce them to other students.

 

Here are some of the types of problems you may be able to help your buddy with during their first few weeks on campus:

  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Course-related difficulties
  • IT-related issues, such as trouble using Brightspace
  • Problems with administrative procedures, such as printing a UHIP card, getting a student card, obtaining a UPass, enrolling in or dropping courses.
  • Immigration issues, such as problems with a study permit, visa, passport. (Keep in mind that as a buddy, you are not allowed to provide immigration advice to students. If your buddy has issues with any immigration documents, refer them to the International Office, who will set up a meeting with an accredited immigration consultant).
  • Uncertainty about where to get clothing, furniture, school supplies, household items (suggest the Free Store!), food, phone plan, banking, travel

What to do with your Buddy

In addition to helping them with their challenges

  • Attend International Office sociocultural events, most of which are free
  • Tour the Ottawa-Gatineau area
  • Complete volunteer placements together
  • Attend campus events
  • Learn about their culture/background

uOGlobal

Students who enrol in uOGlobal Recognition are required to participate in a pairing activity, for which this Buddy Program qualifies. The goal of uOGlobal Recognition is to build intercultural communication skills. Visit the uOGlobal website for more information.

uOCal

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