Always count on your CityBuddy
“We were CityBuddies for about a week, and then we just became friends.”
Coursework, exams, making friends and living abroad are problems that can face all students. According to The Student Room, in 2017 a quarter of students studying in the UK did not feel confident about being away from home.
Located in the heart of London and with around 20,000 students, City has a wide range of activities and groups which can help students get to know their campus. One of them being CityBuddies, a scheme which pairs new students with current students on the same course.
Out of the 1,010 pairings which builds the CityBuddies community, first year student Viviene Marie Dela Cruz, from The Philippines and fourth year student, Farah Said, from Malaysia, (BEng/MEng, Electrical and Electronic Engineering), give their advice to new students about how the scheme can help if you feel lonely at City.
Why did you join CityBuddies?
Viviene: “I was feeling anxious when applying for a Visa to come and study in the UK, it is a completely different to The Philippines so I thought it would be a good idea to talk to a student who has done it before.”
Farah: “I joined as I felt like I had a lot to offer as I too have come from another country to study at City. I know what it is like to arrive somewhere not knowing anyone and feeling lost all the time.
“You get home sick and it is easy to feel like you have made a mistake, but London is such a fun city as there is so much to do once you get to know it.”
What do you talk to each other about as CityBuddies?
Viviene: “We talk about all kinds of things from the academic stuff to home sickness.
“Sometimes it is hard to meet up, because we have different classes, but we talk on Instagram all the time. It is a lot easier to ask questions about the course to a student over a lecturer as I don’t feel embarrassed when I don’t understand some things.”
Farah: “I always try my best to answer Viviene’s questions – usually they are course related, but sometimes she asks about what to do in London.”
“Viviene always reacts to my stories on Instagram, she will also come to some of my Badminton games to meet the team and cheer me on!”
What is the best piece of advice you have given your CityBuddy?
Farah: “I think the best piece of advice I have given is where to go to eat as I love going to cafes in London. I really like cake so I gave Viviene a list of the best cake shops I know and what to order.”
Viviene: “The food choices are always great, but I remember asking Farah where I can have a nap at university!”
Farah: “When Viviene comes to me with a problem we talk as friends as we trust each other – I also ask her for advice too and we don’t feel embarrassed to ask silly things like where to sleep!”
Farah Said, (MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering)
How has being part of CityBuddies affected your university experience?
Viviene: “CityBuddies has really helped me as it has introduced me to students who have faced and overcome the same problems I am faced with.
“I received a message from Farah as soon as I landed in London, and it was really reassuring when she told me she was also an international student. It made me feel like if Farah can do it, than I can too!”
Farah: “It has helped me make friends outside of my course year. However I also feel much more aware of things happening around the university, as Viviene’s questions have made me feel more responsible.
“I feel like I have been able to up my game as I have someone looking up to me. This has made me more confident and I feel I am able to show a strong attitude to the problems that we have both faced – I have grown a lot as a person because of CityBuddies.”
Farah Said, (MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering)
Why should someone become a CityBuddy?
Viviene: “It is so much easier to do something when you have someone there who has done it before.
“When you haven’t gone through the normal route of GCSE’s or A-levels it can be scary, but Farah has always helped me through this and been there for me – no matter how silly my question is!”
Farah: “I would encourage everyone to join CityBuddies, as even though you probably feel like you have not got much to share, your experience is very valuable.
“Everyone goes through a lot when you first start a degree – you learn so many lessons and that experience is vital to someone who is now in that position. Never discredit what you have learnt, as that knowledge can help others flourish.”
What would you say to anyone who wants to make new friends or is feeling alone at university?
Viviene: “CityBuddies provides an opportunity to make a friend before you arrive at university, which is often the most difficult part.
“Farah and I were CityBuddies for week, but after that we became friends. You don’t feel alone or nervous anymore when you realise that your CityBuddy is a friend.”
Viviene Marie Dela Cruz, (BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering)
Farah: “Joining CityBuddies is one of the best ways to meet people at university. As a mentee, your mentor will have friends that you can also meet – it is a great opportunity to meet people outside of your year.
“When you are new it is ok to be nervous, I told Viviene that she can break out of her shell and approach other students, she can talk to people in lectures and seminars and that is how you make friends.
“I told her she would be fine and she was.”
Students interested in becoming a CityBuddy can register their interest here. Applications for being a mentor will open in February 2019 and applications to be a mentee will open in July 2019.
CityBuddies photography exhibition
There will be a CityBuddies photography exhibition launch on Monday 4th February in the OTLT foyer.
The panel exhibition will be displayed on the main walkway from 5th – 15th February and will showcase the impact that mentors have on their mentees’ university experience.
All staff are invited to attend the launch and can do so by registering their interest here.