General information

What is the buddy network and how can I participate?

The buddy network is a service provided by ESN Innsbruck to bring together a local student with one or two exchange students. Our buddy network helps exchange students to have a first contact with a local student (a volunteer) who can help them with everyday problems or who they can just drink a cup of coffee with. Participating is easy: just register for Papaya, our buddy system. If you haven’t got a Facebook account, fill out the respective form (English-speaking for the incomings, German-speaking for the local buddies) and wait for the matchings to begin. 
After having registered you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail containing a link with which you can change or delete your data. If you don’t get such a mail, please check your spam filter, the confirmation mails often get stuck in them.

ESN Innsbruck’s buddy network Papaya consists of three parts:

  • The buddy system: The Buddy system is a project that aims to integrate international students, from their earliest days in Innsbruck onward. Each international student can ask to receive a local student as a tutor - the Buddy - who will be there to answer his/her questions, to clarify his/her doubts and that will help him/her take his first steps in Innsbruck.
  • The pick-up system: You just arrived in Innsbruck, ready for your brand new adventure. And now? Do you need a helping hand to carry the luggage to your new flat? Our pick-up system is exactly what you need! We will do our best to find someone who will come and pick you and your luggage up at the train or bus station (or even at the airport), taking you then home, safe and sound.
  • The language tandem: Do you want to learn or improve another language? We will assign you a tandem partner who speaks the language that you need! In return, your partner will be interested in the languages you speak so you'll both have the opportunity to improve in front of a coffee or a cup of tea.

When will I get matched to another student? 

The matchings take place twice a year, in September / October for the winter term and in February / March for the summer term. Every time there will be several matching rounds, both before and after the official welcome presentations at the University of Innsbruck (LFU) and the Management Center Innsbruck (MCI). But please keep in mind that we won’t do any matchings during the semester, so if you register to our buddy network in e.g. November, you will only be matched in February / March.

How is the matching done?

The matching itself is done by a computer system, based on an algorithm that we cannot change ourselves. The system takes into account the fields of study and the respective countries (home country / preferred countries) and matches the students on its own. We cannot match anybody manually.

What happens after the matching? 

You’ll receive an e-mail with the contact details of your partner and you can get in touch. Normally the ratio between local and exchange students will be 1:1, but when there are much more registrations by incomings than by locals, we’ll match one local student to two exchange students.

I only want to be matched to a girl / boy.

As mentioned above, we cannot match anybody manually. All the work is done by a computer system which tries to find the perfect matches (based on the studies and the countries). We are convinced that these are the crucial criteria for creating the best matches, regardless of the gender. 

I received a buddy / an exchange student, but we’re not doing the same studies.

Our matching system tries to find appropriate partners for everybody, but we have more registrations from e.g.  business studies than from e.g. architecture. So it’s unfortunately not possible to always find a partner who is doing the same studies as you do. But apart from the university stuff, your buddy can help you with a lot of other things, e.g. where to buy certain things in Innsbruck, where to go out, etc.

Information for the incoming students

Who are the buddies? 

They’re all local students who voluntarily registered on our website. Some of them are even former exchange students who decided to stay in Innsbruck. They get no money or other compensation for doing that, they’re all volunteers (like all team members of ESN Innsbruck).

I'll be studying at the MCI and I already got a buddy.

The buddy network of ESN Innsbruck is independent from the one provided by the MCI. You can of course also register to our buddy network even if you already got an MCI buddy.

I’m no exchange student, I’ll do an internship in Innsbruck. Can I also get a buddy? 

Of course you can participate in our buddy network, too. But please keep in mind that the registration dates are based on university semesters.

Information for the local students / buddies

What is the main aim of your buddy network?

We have two main objectives that we’d like to achieve with our buddy network: providing help to the exchange students and helping them integrate here in Austria. 
Maybe you’ve also been abroad and know that exchange students have many questions. Mostly those are quite easy questions, like where they can buy certain things, how they get a bus ticket, etc. So just ask your exchange student what he / she needs and try to help them as good as you can, they’ll be thankful for your help. Additionally, ESN Innsbruck only has a few team members (all volunteers!) and honestly we can’t answer all the questions of up to 500 exchange students a year.
Over the last years we’ve observed that the exchange students have problems with meeting local people, so they mostly stay among themselves. On the one hand they have a great, international experience, but on the other hand we think it’s a pity that many exchange students have no local friends at all and almost don’t speak German after several months here in Innsbruck. By the help of our buddy network the exchange students have at least one local contact here and often the first person is the hardest to meet.

What do I have to do as a buddy?

There is no list what you have to do, just think about what you’d like to know if you came to a new country. So, just contact your exchange student and ask him / her if he / she needs help or if he / she has any special questions. Maybe you also go for a cup of coffee with your exchange student by the time he / she arrives in Innsbruck. But that’s totally up to you. Some buddy partners just meet once, but others become best friends or even a couple, everything is possible.

Do I get any compensation for being a buddy?

No. ESN Innsbruck is a non-profit organisation and all team members are volunteers. So we can’t give you any money for being a buddy. But you’ll have the unique chance to taste the international spirit here in Innsbruck.

I’m no student (anymore), but I want to become a buddy.

No problem, even if you’re not a student (anymore), you for sure have a lot of tips for your exchange student. So just register and you’re in.

The new semester is starting in a couple of days and I haven’t got an incoming student yet.

As there are several matching rounds before each semester, it might take some time until you get an exchange student. We’re always doing publicity for our buddy network at the welcome presentations of the university and the MCI and many students only register after these events, so please be patient if you haven’t got an exchange student by the time the semester starts, there are high chances that you’ll become a buddy during one of the upcoming matching rounds.

It’s already April and I haven’t heard anything from you.

In the winter term there are much more new exchange students than in the summer term, therefore we often have too many buddies in the summer term and it’s possible that some local students won’t be assigned to an exchange student. If so, then please be patient, in the upcoming winter term there will plenty of exchange students waiting for you.

Wow, your buddy network is great! Finally I’ll meet somebody who I can practice my English / French / Spanish / Italian with.

We know that you’re interested in feeling the international spirit here in Innsbruck and that most of you would like to practice their foreign language skills, but it is not our aim to help you improve your language skills (although this is of course a nice side effect of being a buddy). You may of course communicate with your incoming student in any language, but please consider that many exchange students are here to improve their German (or English). So, if you only talk to them in their native language, they won’t achieve that. All members of ESN Innsbruck have already spent some time abroad and we know that we would have never learned the English, French, Spanish or Italian language if everybody had always talked to us in German.

If you’d like to improve your foreign language skills, please register for the language tandem in Papaya.

Furthermore, there are plenty other ways to do that: look for a tandem partner on the Internet (e.g. the “Sprachlernpartnerschaftsbörse” of the ISI language centre of the University of Innsbruck, facebook groups "Tandem linguistico Innsbruck" and "Tandem Innsbruck"), go to local language events (e.g. the “Sprachencafé” of the “Haus der Begegnung”), go to restaurants or bars and talk to the waiters in their native language (The Galway Bay, Ristorante Due Sicilie, Ristorante Sapori, Tapabar), go to the Irish pub quizzes (-> English), attend events of the local cultural institutes (e.g. Institut Français, ACHT / Asociación Cultural de Hispanohablantes in Tirol, ...), etc.

I got an exchange student from a totally different country than those I named upon registration.

In the registration form we asked you to name your three preferred countries. However, we cannot promise you an exchange student from one of these countries. The matching system tries to satisfy everyone’s wishes, but quite understandably there are countries that are popular among our buddies and other countries which are desired by almost nobody. Furthermore we don’t always have the same number of registrations from people from e.g. Spain and people wanting somebody from e.g. Spain.

So please accept your incoming student, no matter where he or she is from. And it might be quite interesting for you to meet people from countries you’ve never visited before.

What is the “Welcome Day”?

This is the official kick-off event of the semester.

The “Welcome Day” of the MCI consists of bureaucratic formalities, a detailed explanation of the MCI and a presentation with many tips for the life in Innsbruck. ESN Innsbruck also holds a short presentation of the semester programme and the buddy network. Afterwards students have the chance to register for the first events and to purchase our ESN card.

The “Welcome Day” of the University of Innsbruck (LFU) is an event with several welcome speeches (by the Rector, by the Head of the International Relations office, etc.) and a short introduction to life in Innsbruck (how to register at the registration office, how to get a bus ticket, etc.). Afterwards we’ll also present the ESN Innsbruck programme and give the exchange students the chance to register for the first events and to purchase our ESN card.

Do I have to come to the Welcome Day?

At the MCI this is not possible, but the Welcome Day of the LFU is a public event. So, if you want to go there to meet your exchange student (or help him / her understand the mostly German-speaking presentations), you’re welcome. But this is, of course, not compulsory.

Can I come to events organised by ESN Innsbruck?

Yes, of course! The more, the merrier. If you become a member of our facebook group „ESN Innsbruck (Events)“, you’ll be automatically invited to all of our events. Additionally you find all the information also on our facebook page “ESN Innsbruck” and our website.

My incoming student desperately needs an apartment.

We all know that the housing situation is pretty tough in Innsbruck. Your incoming student might ask you for help in finding a room or an apartment. We collected a lot of information on housing (and on plenty other topics) on our website, so feel free to refer to it. But if you have a special tip or even a friend who is looking for a roommate, don’t hesitate to inform your incoming student about it.

My incoming student says he / she already has a buddy..?

Maybe he or she will be studying at the MCI. The MCI has a buddy system of its own, but this is independent from the one provided by ESN Innsbruck. Of course MCI students can also participate in our buddy network and thus have two buddies.

I’ve already been a buddy last semester and I want to do it again.

Unfortunately our matching system can’t match anyone who has already been matched before. So, if you got an incoming student in the winter term, the matching system won’t consider you for the summer term. Therefore we always delete the data of all previously matched persons after each semester and if you’re still interested in becoming a buddy, you will have to register again for the next semester. But of course we will send you an e-mail when it’s time to register again.