Fulbright alumna and a grantee smiling at the camera. They are holding a plate of Finnish pancakes they have just made and a jar of jam. There are pink roses on in a vase on their right.

Fulbright Buddy Program

The Association runs the Fulbright Buddy program in co-operation with the Fulbright Finland Foundation. The program seeks to connect Fulbright Finland alumni living in Finland with arriving U.S. grantees to encourage intercultural exchange and mutual understanding. The buddy program provides newly arriving U.S. grantees a local community member to provide answers and solutions to basic questions regarding the grantees' stay in Finland. The Fulbright buddies are motivated Fulbright Finland alumni who are devoted in helping the U.S. grantees adjust to life in Finland and share their love for the country.

The Buddy Program aims to:

  • Welcome newly arrived U.S. Grantees to Finland
  • Build on the practical information and cultural knowledge presented at the Fulbright Finland Foundation orientation
  • Encourage connections and continued mutual understanding between Finnish and Americans affiliated with the Fulbright Finland Foundation and the programs the Foundation administers
  • Provide an opportunity for Finnish and Americans to build relationships, networks and cultural exchange
  • Reduce the initial confusion and culture shock faced by the U.S. grantees upon arrival

What is a Fulbright Buddy?

Fulbright Buddy is a person living in Finland with first-hand experience of living in the country, its habits and culture. The primary responsibility of a Buddy is to help the arriving grantees get settled into life in Finland by welcoming them to Finland and offering advice and guidance regarding packing, moving, and adjusting to the culture. Fulbright Buddy is a perfect person to ask to help open a bank account or come shopping with you for the first time. After the grantee eases into life in Finland the Buddy can introduce the U.S. grantee to the local arts, culture, or sports depending on joint and personal interests. It is suggested that the Buddy and grantee meet at least twice during the grantee’s period in Finland. More meetings than two are encouraged, but it is up to both the grantee and alum to decide if more meetings are wanted.

Two 2018-2019 Fulbright Finland grantees with their Buddy at the ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association Welcome event

Role of a Buddy

It is the Buddy’s responsibility to initiate contact with the U.S. grantee after the initial introductions and make follow-up inquiries and invitations. Activities will depend on the interests and hobbies shared by the grantee and alum Buddy.

It is important to note that all grantees also have the support of their host affiliations, but the depth of those relationships differ, so the grantee may or may not be reliant on the information and activities the alum Buddy shares.

We see the relationship between the alumni and grantee as a two-way exchange, as both individuals share cultural knowledge about their home country. Popular activities in the past have been sharing a meal, attending cultural or sporting events, enjoying sightseeing trips around the area or a holiday celebration. Activities chosen are completely up to the grantee and alumni Buddy.

If you have good stories and/or photos to share of times with your buddy please free to contact us and share!

My “buddies” and I have become friends. They’re a couple that went to the U.S. with Fulbright. I attended their family holiday celebrations, we’ve gone to local museums, and we have dinners every once in a while. We always end up having great conversations about their time in the U.S., my thoughts on Finland, and all of our diverse research projects. - U.S. Fulbright Fellow 2018-2019

Ideas for Alumni Buddies

  • Send your Buddy an email introduction. Introduce yourself, find out the grantee's date of arrival, and ask if they have questions.
  • If possible offer to meet your grantee Buddy at the airport or train/bus station upon their arrival or a few days after their arrival.
  • Provide concrete help. If possible, ask the grantee if they wish to have help with practical matters when arriving in Finland, such as registering with the Finnish Digital Agency and opening a bank account. These matters have every now and then been complicated for the grantees and having a local/Finnish speaker along would have often helped.
  • Meet at least twice (or more times) during the grantee's time in Finland
  • Help grantees connect with individuals, groups, or organizations in their field of study and/or personal interests and hobbies. You can help them make connections in Finland. Any practical advice or help is also very much appreciated
  • Follow up with your grantee sporadically during their time in Finland using communication methods most suitable for the two of you

Tips for a successful Buddy experience

  • Ensure open communication between the grantee and the Buddy
  • Establish a relationship with the U.S. grantee and act as a de facto cultural ambassador of Finland
  • Be patient with the process, it may take time to get to know your grantee Buddy and we hope you are willing to take the time.