i-Buddy case study - Maochao and Aneela

Maochao is a Chinese student studying Business Management; her student buddy, Aneela, is a UK student studying Fashion Buying. They met up at the social event that marked the start of the International Student Buddy Scheme.

Aneela explains “We got on really well! It was easy to text and to meet up, and ask “what would you like to do?” I really enjoyed it. We’ve got similar personalities so we got on easily”. Maochao adds, “The scheme is really cool! It’s helped me learn English and meet friends.”

As a Home student, for Aneela it was experience of being abroad herself that provided added motivation for becoming a student buddy. “I volunteered abroad last summer – I went to Morocco - and it was hard, because of the culture shock. I went on my own and the first time it was scary. I learnt a lot from that, and I thought about the new students – ‘I know how they feel’ - coming to a new country on your own, you have to face a lot of new things - I felt I knew where they were coming from and I think they need that support.”

She adds that volunteering as a buddy has helped to enhance her own cultural awareness - “I want to be a fashion buyer and I might have to travel abroad and communicate with buyers and suppliers overseas. Different countries work in different ways, in the ways people behave and interact, so I felt that this really helped me.”

Maochao says “We even held our birthday party together. It was exciting because it was my first time to go to an Indian restaurant and it was good to share the party with Aneela.”

Aneela - “It was my birthday and her boyfriend’s birthday on the same day! We went to an Indian restaurant, because she had never tasted Indian food! There were about 10 of us; some of my other friends came as well. It was really nice for her and her boyfriend to try something new and to see that they liked it.”

They have continued to meet up since the end of the scheme in December and plan to stay in touch. Aneela - “We always email each other to see how we are. My fashion course is really intense at the moment, but we’re still meeting up and I definitely want to meet up again after my project’s done.” Has Aneela tried Chinese food yet? “She says she’s going to cook for me!” “Yes”, says Maochao, “when we finish our busy time!”

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