Clearing up the Confusion Surrounding the Student Buddy Organizations

2011-01-12. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nils Pasi

Apart from being the editor of, I am also a very active GISA student buddy. Most of you have probably met me on at least one occasion, unless you study at Chalmers, of course. Of all the questions I get, one of the more common ones has to do with the student buddy organizations. Today I thought I would use this Saturday Special to have a closer look at the student buddy organizations in Gothenburg, who they are, and what they do in order to clear up some of the confusion surrounding them.

I say that one of the most frequent questions I get, is about the student buddy organizations. That is not entirely true, for what I am actually asked about, are various events and why all international students in Gothenburg do not get the same emails about events organized by the student buddies. Well, the reason is that there are actually three different student buddy organizations in Gothenburg. In some respects, this complicates matters, but there are some advantages as well.

Last autumn, around 1300 exchange students arrived in Gothenburg to begin their studies at either Gothenburg University or Chalmers. This is not the reason for why we have several student buddy organizations, but I just want to point out that planning and executing events for 1300 people is extremely difficult at best. Not only does it severely limit the number of activities we can pull off per term, but it also drastically narrows down our range of choices for what we can actually do. So in that sense, having several student buddy organizations is quite beneficial.

But even 300 people can be quite many when you try to organize various activities. Where can you go with 300 people, for example? The choices are not plentiful. Different student buddy organizations approach this problem differently. In GISA, we started off with large scale events aimed at everyone, and we will continue with those. But as the term continues, the plan is to form smaller groups based on areas of interest, headed by one or more of our student buddies. This is a way for us to plan and execute smaller events that are impossible to do on a larger scale, like bowling, for example. Now, I am not saying that we will organize a bowling event, I am just saying that bowling is something you cannot do with 300 people, whereas it is quite possible with a smaller group of, say, 20 people. With interest groups, it is also easy for us to see what kind of activities you are interested in, which will help us in planning the kind of events and activities you like the most.


Student Buddy organizations in Gothenburg:

Chalmers, not being part of Gothenburg University, has their own international association, called Chalmers International Reception Committee (CIRC). Last autumn, they welcomed around 800 new international students, making CIRC the largest 'student buddy*' organization in Gothenburg. CIRC takes care of all international students at Chalmers, so if you study at Chalmers, you will get information about events organized by CIRC.

Visit CIRC on the Web.

With around 350 exchange students, the newly formed Gothenburg International Student Association (GISA) is the second largest student buddy organization in Gothenburg, catering to all exchange students at Gothenburg University, including those studying at Handels despite Handels having its own Student Buddy organization (see InTu below).

Visit GISA on Facebook.

While technically part of Gothenburg University, Handels School of Business, Law and Economics has its own student buddy organization called InTu. Last autumn, they welcomed about 150 exchange students to Handels. If you are an exchange student at Handels, then InTu is your student buddy organization and you should receive invitations to events organized by InTu.

VisitInTu on Facebook.

Intet is the international association at SAKS, the student union at Sahlgrenska Akademien. They too have a student buddy program, so if you're studying at Sahlgrenska Akademien you can turn to them for more activities and chances to meet swedish students.

Visit Intet on Facebook. [NB: The FB group for 2011.]

Of course, the student buddy organizations often co-operate to create larger events to which everybody are welcome!


What the student buddies do:

The student buddies are not employed by the University (GU or Chalmers), which means that they work without getting paid. They are regular students who become student buddies for many different reasons, although most common reasons include the ‘opportunity to practice different languages’ and ‘meeting new people and making new friends.’ The main focus of the student buddy organizations is to welcome new international students to Gothenburg and make sure that they have a wonderful time in Gothenburg. Various social activities are organized throughout the year in order to give international students the opportunity to meet Swedes and to enjoy various sorts of activities and experiences. The student buddies are also available to answer any questions you may have on student life in Sweden, although administrative questions about university courses and apartment contracts are best directed to the University, SGS student housings or similar.


What the student buddies cannot do:

As I wrote earlier, the student buddies are not employed by the University. They cannot speak for the University, nor are they responsible for, or part of, the administration of any area of the University. They are social student organizations, run by students for international students, and that is all.

I hope that this has helped clear up any confusion about the Student Buddies, who they are and what they do. Let me know if you have any questions!



/Nils, team 2011-2012
... and GISA student buddy

*CIRC, as far I as I know, do not use the term 'student buddies'. Instead of 'student buddies', CIRC has 'phaddrar' (Singular: 'phadder'), although in practice, there are few differences except for the name they go by.

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