When I first decided to join the Buddy Program, I remember I was afraid that I’d have to help Spanish speakers, because back then I didn’t speak Spanish at all. But things have changed and thanks to this program now I do (one of the gifts that it gave to me). I have met so many wonderful people and different cultures, as well as I have made so many friends. Ever since I started, I have helped more than 15 international students and I became friends with all of them, we’re still in touch and this is such a grateful feeling. You know you can count on them the same way they counted on you. They also have helped me, back in the second semester of 2018, they all chipped in and gave me a surprise trip to São Paulo, so I could see my family that I hadn’t seen in almost two years. For them, it’s really important to have help and someone when they arrive, seeing a friendly face at the bus station and knowing that they’re not completely alone miles away from home can change their whole experience. But it’s an exchange, so you will learn from them and alongside them. I have found myself in the Buddy Program and it was one of my best choices ever.
Being part of the Buddy Program was such a great experience. I’ve lived for a while in France in 2016 and in Portugal in 2018, and during these experiences I have noticed how much I have needed help inside and out the University. Those experiences made me want to be part of this at UFPel and be able to help the new international students. I thought I could be to someone, exactly what I’ve missed when I was an exchange student. I haven’t spent much time with my two buddy students, but the time we spent together was precious. With the Portuguese one, I spent a bit more time, because we went to some classes together and I’ve learnt a great deal from her. We shared experiences, we gathered and we helped each other in class, I’ve helped her with bureaucratic matters as well as simple things like buying a SIM card. Seeing that someone is relying on you, in another country and far away from their family is touching. At her farewell, she made a speech thanking one of the most important people in her time in Brazil and that person was me, even though I have made so little. I will never forget that feeling and this opportunity that UFPel gave me. I’ll always be available for those who need and that’s why I recommend this experience.
Bruna Teixeira Correa