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Business buddies welcome exchange students

By Meaghan Whelan

Spending a semester at a foreign university can be daunting. It’s relatively easy to find answers to questions about the weather and course offerings, but how do you find out where to go for the best local music, or how local students spend their time? For 15 incoming business exchange students, the Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS) has developed a buddy program to answer all their questions and help them navigate Memorial.

The incoming exchange students, from Germany, China, Sweden, Ireland, England, Mexico, Belgium and the Czech Republic, will each be matched with two buddies, one local and one international. “By giving incoming students two MUN buddies, each will have an international contact who has gone through a similar experience and can help guide them as well as a Newfoundland contact who has the local knowledge to make the experience complete,” explained Ross Houlihan, international program officer for CIBS.

Mr. Houlihan knows firsthand what the exchange students are going through. In 2004, he was a part of the first group of students from the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland that came to the Faculty of Business. “I know what the students are going through now and I know how much they’ll benefit from the buddy program. It’s a bonding experience,” he said. “People become lifelong friends, relationships are formed, and I know for a fact that the buddy program has been the direct cause of at least two marriages!”

Mr. Houlihan wants to ensure that the new students get involved and experience Newfoundland culture. To that end, he’s planned for boat tours, excursions to the Rooms, tours of the Johnson Geo Centre and various other activities to help the students become acquainted with their new city. More than that though, Mr. Houlihan hopes to create a safety net for the exchange students. “Beyond the scheduled tourist activities and the university orientation, I want our new students to feel a part of the business faculty and to know that there is a group of people looking out for their welfare, not just at orientation or the first few weeks, but throughout the semester,” he explained.

The Centre for International Business Studies provides a variety of international opportunities for students. In addition to the incoming 15 exchange students, 28 Memorial business students are spending a semester abroad at a partner institution. For more information about CIBS programs, visit