I joined the Buddy Scheme when I started at Sussex and I was matched with a Sussex student who had completed her first year at university and was going into her second year. Her name was Priscilla.
They really helped me before I moved for University by answering questions and concerns I had especially with living in campus accommodation. The student shared their positive and negative experience of living in campus accommodation, this allowed me to better prepare for living in student accommodation and allowed me to put in steps to help me deal with certain negative experiences if they were to arise. They also encouraged me to work hard during my time at university and not delay studying and completing assignments at the last minute as this would create stress and anxiety.
Unfortunately I lost contact with my buddy when I started university however I felt that at that time I did not need one to one support from my buddy because I attended many of the brilliant buddy scheme social events for example the buddy scheme welcome tea party and the seven sisters walk which I enjoyed very much. It was through these events that I was able to connect to other students and make friends whom I am still in regular contact with today.
Without the Buddy Scheme my experience would have been quite difficult especially as I am a mature student. I was anxious about fitting in, being much older than most of the other students at University. I was also worried because it was the first time, I had moved away from home and family and I did not know anyone in Brighton. The Buddy Scheme gave me an opportunity and a space to meet and connect with other students without feeling anxious. It was a welcoming feeling that before I arrived at university that I had a buddy whom I could contact if I needed any help.
I love the Buddy Scheme because it offers friendship, support, fun activities, and there is a great sense of community which is vitally important as a new student settling in and throughout your studies. The buddy scheme held weekly yoga classes which I attended regularly. The free yoga classes greatly helped with my physical and mental well being and it was amazing because without the free sessions I would not have been introduced to yoga, something which I now practice every day and is a self-help mechanism I have in place and it has made a huge impact during the Coronavirus pandemic as it allowed me to overcome challenges successfully and maintain my mental health.
Since joining as a new student, I now volunteer and have had the pleasure of being matched to a new international mature student. We have been communicating through email and text messages via WhatsApp and it is very heartwarming and fulfilling to be able to give back to others that face a daunting task of moving hundreds of miles away from home where they do not know anyone. This is something that I experienced and know what it feels like, I am very happy that I have an opportunity to help new students settle in and also be given an opportunity to widen my skill set and give me experience in helping and supporting others.
I feel that I have definitely created buddies for life through the buddy scheme and I am very grateful to the students unions and the volunteers that work incredibly hard to organise this to help students connect and stay connected.