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International Student Services

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While academics are important to your life as a student at USC, friendship and culture-sharing in the United States is also an important part of your experience. Adjusting to American life can sometimes be a little hard. Buddies Beyond Borders is a program designed to help with this adjustment process by pairing newly admitted international students with current students at USC.

Buddies Beyond Borders

Buddies Beyond Borders was developed by the International Student Services Office at the University of South Carolina to assist with the social transition of international students. Buddies Beyond Borders provides both international students and American students/staff at the University of South Carolina an opportunity for connection and friendship. Each pairing provides the enriching experience of a cultural exchange and allows you to gain a broadened perspective about the world.

The University of South Carolina hosts more than 1,500 international students from over 100 countries. Students are here from four months to several years depending on their individual programs. American life as it is depicted on television, in newspapers, and experienced in residence halls is frequently a distorted picture. This program is meant to help you adjust to life in the United States more easily. Participating in this program will allow you the opportunity to make a new friend when you arrive at USC, share your culture, and get to learn more about American culture. Many of our students who participate in this program form lasting friendships with their buddies.


Who can apply to be a buddy?

As a new 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 student at USC who has been enrolled for at least 2 semesters, 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.


International Buddies are expected to meet with their Domestic Buddies at least 4 times throughout the semester. International Student Services will host events each semester as well as keep you informed of campus events or local activities that could be fun options for you to attend with your Buddy. Relationships can be further developed through shared meals, community programs, sightseeing, and holiday celebrations.

Buddies Beyond Borders is meant to provide an opportunity to promote friendship 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.


Your Domestic Buddy should be very familiar with life at USC. 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! Your buddy is a resource to you, but they also want to know more about you and your life. Share parts of your culture with them by telling them stories about your home country, playing them music from your culture, or making them traditional food that you would have with your family.

While you are strongly encouraged to regularly spend time with your Domestic Buddy, please remember that this program is designed for friendship and intercultural exchange. Though friendship cannot be guaranteed, if you meet with your Domestic Buddy regularly, you will have many opportunities to learn about American culture through their eyes and also share your own cultural experiences with them.

How to Apply

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!


Due to high demand, we may not be able to match you with an Domestic Buddy. We will notify you if this is the case.

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 with whom you can also have meaningful cultural interactions.

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.