Skip to Content

International Student and Scholar Support

  • Photo of USC international students

Buddies Beyond Borders

Preparing for life in the United States can be difficult. Adjusting to life once you are here in Columbia and starting classes can be equally challenging. Buddies Beyond Borders is a program designed to help with this adjustment process by pairing newly admitted international students with current students at UofSC.

The University of South Carolina hosts international students from approximately 100 countries. Students are here from four months to several years depending on their individual programs. Many international students find that their expectations of America are much different than the reality of living in Columbia, South Carolina. 

Students who request a Buddy have a chance to start their time here at UofSC connected with another student who can help them acclimate to campus. Your Domestic Buddy will be very familiar with life at UofSC. Ask them any questions that you might have about the campus or life in Columbia. If you have questions about the best places to get groceries and furniture, or maybe you are wondering about certain cultural differences between the United States and your home country, ask your Domestic Buddy!

Buddies are also available to meet up and be a welcoming face on campus as you are getting settled in. Many of our students who participate in this program form friendships with their Buddies. 

In addition to your match, International Student Services will host events throughout each semester so that you can meet other participants in the program, both domestic and international. Students are encouraged to attend these events and make connections and friendships through the wider Buddies community.

  • As an international student at USC, you will qualify to be an International Buddy. Only students who have received an I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) will be matched with a Domestic Buddy.
  • If you are a continuing international student at USC who has been enrolled for at least 1 year, you are qualified to be a Domestic Buddy. If you wish to be a Domestic Buddy, you will need to read more information regarding requirements and expectations through the official Buddies Beyond Borders section of our website.

The primary requirement for the Buddies program is to communicate with your Buddy match. If you indicate on the application that you are interested in simply contacting your Buddy for advice or guidance, then that is the extent of your requirements. If you indicate that you are interested in friendship and socializing, you are required to make an effort to connect and meet with your Buddy. 

Buddies Beyond Borders is meant to provide an opportunity to provide support and meaningful intercultural exchange at USC. Any inappropriate or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated from either the Domestic Buddy or the International Buddy. If any inappropriate or disrespectful behavior is reported, the buddy at fault will no longer be permitted to participate in the program.

The Buddies program will look different for different people depending on their interest and needs. Some Buddies will meet in person, others matches will simply email or text. Some will just need a few questions answered from a friendly and knowledgeable resource. Others will meet with their Buddy match face-to-face. Though friendship cannot be guaranteed, we hope that many students do form a supportive relationship with their Buddy.

Please note: Your Domestic Buddy may be paired with several incoming students. Please do not expect that your Buddy will be able to address all your requests. Your Buddy is NOT expected to be a taxi or Uber to drive you around town (if they offer or are receptive to a request for transportation, that is fine but it is not an obligation on their part). These Buddies are student volunteers who are providing their time and expertise to assist you with questions and to provide guidance and resources. Anything more than that is up to the individual volunteer.

Interested in being matched with a current student at USC? Want to learn more about American culture? Want to share your culture with another student?

Apply to be an International Buddy!

Matching is based upon availability, personal interests, age, and gender. We will do our best to make sure you are paired with a Buddy who has some common interests with you, but we cannot guarantee perfect matches. We CAN promise that you will be matched with someone who can provide you with answers and support.

Cultural differences between you and your buddy are inevitable. Remember to treat these differences with respect. If these kinds of differences are leading to negative interactions with your buddy and you are uncomfortable continuing in the program, please contact Chris Reid to discuss other options.


Domestic Students Who Want to be Paired with a International Buddy:

See this section of our website!

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.