The buddy system

September 12, 2018 | Campus Life
Sure, you could probably make it through your entire university career without really ever asking for help, but we definitely wouldn't recommend it.

ICON_HANDS_UPWhen literally thousands of people going through – or having recently gone through – many of the same challenges you’re facing, buddying up just makes sense. Not sure how to get started when it comes to finding your place in the MacEwan community? Here are a few ways to get connected:

1. If you want to get started on the right foot

Police and Investigations Studies student Koho Dam remembers not really knowing what to expect when he was paired up with a mentor, fourth-year psychology student Nick Hemmings, during the first weeks of his first year.

“Pretty much all of my friends went to other universities, so I didn’t really know anyone at MacEwan,” he says. “There are lots of ways to get help, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin and who to ask. If I needed help with something, I could just text Nick a quick question and he pointed me in the right direction.”

Koho says that while he could have turned to Google for tips on study habits, dealing with stress or university services, it wouldn’t have been the same.

“Being able to ask someone who has been there and can share their personal experiences makes a difference,” says Koho. “If I hadn’t had that support, I might not have done as well in my first year.”

Sign up to be paired with a mentor at the Fall or Winter New Student Orientation, or by emailing

2. If you need a hand acing that paper or exam

Wish there was someone out there who could help you finally win your battle with the grammar monster, tackle a tough assignment, demystify your textbook, or answer your APA questions? There is (they’re called peer tutors), and all you need to do is ask.

But we get that asking for help isn’t always easy, so if you’re feeling uncomfortable about your first visit to Writing and Learning Services, Courtney Krentz, fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student and peer tutor, suggests a low-pressure tactic.

“Just come and hang out for a while before you take the next step and knock on our door. Lots of people come and study in the writing centre. It’s such a positive environment.” 

Stop by Writing and Learning Services on the main floor of Building 7, just north of the Office of the University Registrar.

3. If you want to work out

“When I first started going to the gym, I felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable,” say Madeline Thomas, a third-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing student. So when she arrived at MacEwan and saw a poster for the Fit Buddy program, she decided to volunteer.

“Some of my fit buddies have never been to the MacEwan gym before and want someone to walk them through the turnstiles for the first time. Some people want a tour of the equipment, others want to work out together and some people want to work out separately but side-by-side so they’re not alone and can ask questions.”

Madeline is happy to help because she believes fitness is not only great for relieving stress and promoting mental health, but that it can also change lives. It changed hers. “I would not be the person I am right now if I hadn’t decided to get up and start walking one day. It made me see myself as being capable of change and being able to modify my life in the way I wanted.”

Sign up to be a volunteer or participant through Sport and Wellness.

4. If you just want someone to go for coffee with

“Try to make friends with with people in your classes,” says Bailey Regan, Bachelor of Arts ‘18. “Grabbing coffee together after class is such a stress reliever.”

But Bailey understands that reaching out isn’t always easy. “Lots of people in philosophy are very shy, so I had to be that awkward person who announced after every seminar, ‘We’re going to get burgers at Towers!’ and then asked each and every person in the class ‘Are you coming?’ More and more people kept joining us, and now we’re all friends. These are people I’m probably going to be in touch with forever.”

And you never know what making that connection could mean to someone else.

“A friend texted me the other day to thank me for inviting him for coffee with us. He said he hadn’t hung out with anyone at school in the four years he was here. He’s really quiet, but he’s also really smart and great. Reaching out really can mean a lot.”

If you’re not comfortable making an in-class announcement, try to find the place where students from your program hang out. Lots of disciplines and programs have common rooms or clubs. Stop by your faculty’s office to see if they can point you in the right direction.

5. If you just can’t make sense of your math homework

Drop in at the Math/Stats Learning Centre and sit down with a math student who can help.

Anjali Pathak, Bachelor of Science ‘18, didn’t realize that she could get help from the centre until her third year, when she started working there as a teaching assistant.

“I love connecting with first- and second-year students,” she says. “I was one of them just a couple of years ago, so I knew exactly what it felt like to not understand something. I really enjoy teaching and finding different ways to explain things – seeing someone who’s struggling finally understand is really rewarding.”

6. If you want to make friends, but don’t know where to start

Join a club. Erikk Opinio, Bachelor of Commerce ‘18 and former president of the Oikos International club, jokes that he’s tempted to walk up and down the halls on the first few days of classes taking students by the shoulders and saying “Why aren't you in a club?"

“I’m that passionate about it,” says Erikk. “But at the same time, I understand why students don’t join. When I was working on my first degree, I didn’t care about clubs either. I was in university to learn and to have fun. I didn’t think anything outside of that was important.”

Student groups are the perfect way to make friends, develop skills in a way you can’t in the classroom and find out what you're really passionate about. And there are more than 90 clubs to choose from, so you’re bound to find something that interests you.


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