Going to a new country to study is exciting, inspiring, and wonderful but also entails lots of questions, challenges, and uncertainties. Where do I want to live? How can I get to know my fellow students better and make new friends? What courses should I best take during my first semester, and how do I register for them? How can I get a practice room—and where’s the best (affordable!) place to grab something to eat?

With the Buddy Program, which is being launched as a winter semester 2020/21 pilot project, the mdw is aiming to provide support to international first-semester students and help all of our students build their networks.

This project arose from the work to formulate the international component of the mdw Diversity Strategy, taking shape as a joint effort between teaching staff, administrative employees (especially those of Event Management and International Affairs as well as the Administrative Department for Equality, Gender Studies & Diversity), and students (hmdw). The result is now being implemented by the Vice Rectorate for Academic Affairs and Young Artists’ Promotion and the aforementioned administrative department’s diversity management staff.

The Buddy Programme encompasses:

  • social networking,
  • help getting oriented in leisure and cultural life,
  • practical assistance with everyday obstacles (simple bureaucratic errands, mobile phone contracts, etc.), and
  • useful tips on studying at the mdw.

The ideas that were important from the very beginning and constitute the essence of this programme are networking, togetherness, and teamwork: small groups of first-semester international students are accompanied by one “buddy tandem” (two later-semester mdw students) per group as they get settled at and make their way through the mdw. The programme currently involves a total of eight buddies from various majors who bring with them international experience and diverse foreign-language skills. And it’s with lots of openness and enthusiasm that they’re dedicating themselves to this programme, which some of them wish had existed back when they began studying. The buddies’ training is a further important element in which the focus is on critical gender- and diversity-centred approaches. The point here is to reflect upon societal inequalities, to focus on working with differences without reproducing stereotypes, and to become aware of one’s own positioning.

This winter semester is the first that will see buddies accompanying new students. What ensembles, ideas, and artistic projects might end up arising along the way? We’ll be interested to find out! More information at mdw.ac.at/buddy

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