Gauss-Telegraph: Gauss Buddy Programme and first days in Braunschweig
by Karolina Kołodziejczyk
As an exchange student at the TU Braunschweig, I was assigned a Gauss Buddy around a month prior to the semester starting. Joanne (my Gauss Buddy) and I immediately got along, and she became my first friend during my time abroad. It was an opportunity for me to ask her questions about living in Germany and about the exchange itself. She was very eager to help and even when she didn’t know the answers to my questions about the issues I had, she tried to find the answers and asked other people who might have known them.
There were some problems before I came to Germany, for example with the accommodation, so her physically being in Braunschweig was immensely helpful because she was able to meet the people in charge of the dormitories and ask them my questions. Of course, I could have done it myself through emails, but some questions were better asked in person and it was easier and quicker to explain the problem I was facing. I also must admit that I’ve had my fair share of emails with questions and concerns sent to multiple people in charge throughout my stay. When I came to Germany my Gauss Buddy picked me up from the train station and we managed to go to the Orientation Meeting, get all the documents signed and get my room at the dormitory ready in one day.
It took me some time to adjust to a new environment and get accustomed to German being used everywhere. It was a challenge at the beginning, but as the days passed, it got easier. It helped that I already had some German classes before going to Braunschweig, but some of my friends had no language skills prior to coming to Germany and they managed to learn some basic phrases very quickly. It’s easier to memorise them when you actually have to use them, instead of just memorising them to pass a test at school.
In October, Gauss Friends offer lots of useful and informative events, for example city tours or meetings dedicated to the formalities and useful information you need to know to ensure that your stay is successful and fun. I attended some of them and they were helpful. Within the first month of me being in Germany, I opened a bank account with the help of one of the Gauss Buddies and I also registered at the city council. In both of these places I had to use German, but it didn’t cause a lot of trouble.
The Gauss Buddy Programme is very helpful for exchange students, since there are a lot of paperwork and uncertainties. However, all the people who are a part of Gauss Friends are willing to help and will try their best to do so. With that being said, it means that if someone has any questions, they don’t have to solely rely on their Gauss Buddy’s help. They can ask anyone in Gauss Haus, and they will receive an answer best to their knowledge. It’s important to ask for help when you need it.