What is the Buddy program?

Wageningen is very international and diverse university town! ESN Wageningen introduces the Buddy Program for you to experience it!

This concept of students helping students aims at maximizing the joyful experience of staying in Wageningen. 2 to 3 Wageningen student are put in a group with new incoming students (8-10) to introduce them to the active student life within Wageningen. Buddy families are formed and will stay in contact for at least 1 semester.

As such, the new students will not only get a warm welcome but also get the opportunity to form a little family to foster integration into the Wageningen student community. Also, the buddy mentors can help the new students out with practical issues, such as registration with the general practitioner, how to get an OV-card or just how to cope with the Dutch mentality.

Buddy families are stimulated to join the buddy activities and regular ESN activities in order to get in touch with other buddy families and international students. This will allow students to meet many people, cultures and traditions, both foreign and Dutch. Apart from this, buddy families are stimulated to organize activities by themselves. Activities that you can do together include having lunch at the Global Lounge, go ice skating, organize potluck dinners, go to parties and many more! Usually, this goes very naturally since you form a close group of friends very quickly.

The Buddy Program takes a new start every semester. Registrations to become a buddy mentor or to be part of a buddy family as an arriving student is possible all year round. 

When you are a buddy mentor during the Summer or Winter AID, you can keep your buddy family if you would like to continue with them during the corresponding semester.

NOTE: The Buddy Program from ESN Wageningen is not the same / a perfect substitute for the introduction program of Wageningen University. We highly recommend you to join the introduction week (the “AID”) from the University as well as our Buddy Program!

Join the buddy program of 2023-2024!
Starting from September 2023

Become a buddy kid

You will make a lot of new friends from all over the world

You will have buddy mentors to ask all your questions to

It will help to easily integrate in the Dutch life, specifically the Wageningen student life

Your buddy family will get support from ESN through exclusive activities and challenges!

You will be part of a network of other buddy families

Become a buddy mentor

You will meet new people from different cultures, nationalities, languages etc.

You can join buddy activities for free/small fee

A thank you activity for all the buddy mentors will be organized

You will get a free ESNcard

You will make many new friends!

Buddy family experiences

Read about a buddy family (buddy kid and buddy mentor) in semester 1 of 2020-2021. 

The experience of Klaudia Gawronska, buddy kid

Why did you sign up to become a buddy kid?

I signed up to become a buddy kid because I was in need of social contact. All of the new international friends I made were a part of ESN and its buddy families, so I decided to give it a shot as well.


What were your expectations of the Buddy Program, and did they come true?

I hoped to be able to participate in some activities or to just meet some people within the family. That all came true and was better than expected until February, when the curfew was implemented. From then on, it was rather quiet and only now we are coming back to meeting up. Fortunately, by the time the curfew was implemented, I had already made some friends on my own.  


How were the first weeks with your buddy family?

The first weeks were a bit different for me than for others, because I was added much later. Therefore, my buddy family already knew each other. That turned out to be no problem and we still had lots of fun. We participated in the laser game evening that was something very new to me (and totally not in my comfort zone!). We had some tea together, met up for dinner, pumpkin soup etc. It was totally lovely! 


What is the funniest thing that happened within your buddy family?

As we did not manage to meet up that often due to COVID-19, there were not that many funny things that happened and which come to mind. However, I remember when we made plans to make soup at one of the girls’ houses. She was not home by the time all of us had gathered to make the soup. She found us in her living room when she came back from jogging, completely baffled. Apparently, she had the hours completely mixed! 

The experience of Carlien van Dam, buddy mentor

What does being a buddy mentor mean to you?

Being a buddy mentor means to me meeting new (international) people and making new friends and doing fun activities with each other like celebrating sinterklaas, or mountain biking. And sometimes answering questions about how things are organized in the Netherlands. 


What did you feel your role as a buddy mentor was? For me it was just being one of a new group of friends. I also tried to organize some activities like Sinterklaas and dinners with each other to make sure that it was a success. This worked really great until the curfew started; and our options of meeting up with each other were limited because of that. 


How were the first weeks with your buddy family? Our buddy family started after the AID. We continued as a group within ESN. This meant that we already knew each other. A few people were added afterwards to the group by ESN. 


Which activities did you do with your buddy family? It was kind of hard to meet up, especially the last few months with the curfew in place. But activities we managed to do, are: having a barbeque at my parent’s place, go for a small bike trip, chilling at each other’s places and having dinner with each other, celebrating sinterklaas, having an autumn saturday when we ate pumpkin soup and went for a walk to see the autumn leaves etc. And we also met/meet up in small groups within the family to have dinner or mountain bike with just two or three people from the family. So, in a nutshell ESN is a great way to make new friends and do activities that friends do with each other. 😉 


How often did/do you meet with your buddy family? It really depends on the size of the group. Most of the time we met with just three or four people from the entire group, because of the limitations on group size. We did this every two/three weeks, maybe just for dinner. For a few of the bigger activities we were with one or two more, but those were really limited because of the rules.


Q: Is it possible to be a buddy mentor while I have re-exams in the Summer AID/Winter AID?

A: Yes. Your fellow buddy mentor(s) can take over from you for that day. Make sure to check if this is possible before subscribing.


Q: Is being a buddy mentor hard?

A: No, being a buddy mentor is not hard. It means being friendly, interested in meeting new people and willing to help them find their way in Wageningen.


Q: Does being a buddy mentor take a lot of time?

A: No. The first weeks are usually the most busy since this is the time you get to know your group, or you join the AID. In the beginning, buddy families usually meet 1-2 times a week. This can include having lunch at university or going to an ESN kitchen. At the start of the semester and further on, ESN also organizes activities specially for buddy families, to make sure that you get to know each other. As time passes buddy families usually meet once a week to once every two weeks. The Buddy Program is very flexible and it is up to you and your buddy family to decide how often you meet. As a buddy mentor you do not have to attend every activity. We make sure that each group has 2-3 buddy mentors. This means that you can also meet the students separately.


Q: Can I combine it with my student association, sports, studying etc?

A: Yes. Our buddy mentors are often also part of student associations such as Franciscus, Ceres, SSR-W and more, as well as being active in their study and sport associations.


Q: Can I be a buddy mentor if I am a bachelor student?

A: Yes. A buddy family will consist of Bachelor, Master and Erasmus exchange students. Erasmus students can be in their Bachelor or Master. As a Bachelor student you can lead a group of new students even if they are older than you. Past buddy mentors have also been bachelor students without having problems.


Q: Can I be a buddy mentor when I am an international student?

A: Yes. Buddy mentors can be both Dutch or international students. If you know Wageningen already and want to welcome new students to Wageningen you can become a buddy mentor. Note that you should be available for the upcoming half a year/semester if you want to become a buddy mentor.


Q: Do I need to always take the lead in my group?

A: The buddy mentors have to take initiative in the first weeks of the Buddy Program. When you know each other better, the buddy kids will take initiative as well to organize activities. However, this may depend on your buddy family. Some buddy families will need more encouragement and a more proactive buddy mentors. Over time the buddy family often becomes a friend group with both the buddy mentors and the buddy kids organizing dinners or activities.