Maja found friends for life through the Mentor Programme

What does a mentor do?

- A mentor helps one or more international students with things they may need support in. It can be anything from finding your way on campus to where the nearest store is. Depending on how good of a contact you have with “your” international students, you can do lots of fun things together. Swedish “fika” (having coffee and cake) is always a popular activity!

How does the mentorship work?

- You apply to become a mentor on the university website. You get to enter you interests, preferences, what languages you speak and so on. Then you get matched up with a fitting international student. After that you write your first e-mail. Sometimes the students have questions or need help before arriving in Sweden. Having a connection via e-mail during the summer makes it easier when you meet in person after they arrive.

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

- My interest in other cultures and because I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know students from all over the world. Through the Mentor Programme, I don’t need to reach out on my own, which can be difficult, but instead get assigned a student to connect with.

Are there any moments from your mentorship that have been particularly special?

- The first time meeting the person you’ve been chatting to during the summer is always fun! Other than that I have a memory from a moment with an international student from China. She had been home for Christmas and returned with Chinese spices and food that she shared with me and a friend at her place. Together with her Chinese friends, she cooked a hot pot, a sort of soup that everyone shares from the same pot. I had never tasted anything like it and it resembles nothing you can order in Sweden!

Have you learnt anything or experienced something new?

- I have learnt an incredible amount through the Mentor Programme. One part is, of course, the English language, since you use it all the time if you don’t know the international student’s first language. You learn so much from meeting people from different parts of the world. I’ve also realised how interested the students coming to Borås are in us Swedes and they happily ask many questions. The international students are never hard to talk to.

What do you take from the experience?

- All my lovely memories together with everyone! I have gotten to know so many more than “my own” international students, and some have become friends for life. I’ve also learnt several different languages as well as practiced the ones I already knew, such as Mandarin.

Why should more students sign up as mentors?

- It is a great chance to get to know people from different countries and cultures that you’re interested in. Through the Mentor Programme, you don’t have to reach out on your own, and it is not at all complicated. Simply being there when they need help or are wondering something means a lot to these students. On top of that, it is an addition to your CV. You won’t regret it!

Text: Andrea Jonsson

Photo: Private/Mostphotos