French Exchange Student Arrival in 30 Days – Need Your Help And Ideas!

france and french exchange studentDuring the month of July, we will have a 15 year French exchange student coming to stay with us.  He currently resides in Cesson-Sevigne which is a suburb in western France directly east of Rennes. He is coming via a private exchange program and he’s never been to the US but he has studied English for five years.  The objective of the visit is to learn about the American culture, how American families live, and practice English.  I applied and our family was interviewed and we were selected to be a host. We’ve exchanged emails and photos.  I requested a boy since I’ve got all boys and I can’t imagine a young French girl in the house with two of my boys going through puberty.  That’s a NO NO!

Since one of our boys sleeps with us, we’re using his room as the guest room.   We have a big house and actually 2 of the boys didn’t want to sleep in their rooms because they felt they were too far away from us.  Just last year, I got my 13 year old to sleep upstairs but my 5 year old is still with us.  I’m replacing the bedding (not sure a 15 year would appreciate an alphabet duvet) and I’m going to put some plants and other nice touches in the room.  Got any ideas for me on that?  You can’t see but there’s a dresser along the wall next to where I took the photo.  I’d like to add some welcome touches there.  A basket of stuff?  But what?  I don’t want chocolate being eaten upstairs!  I have a no food upstairs rule.

guest bedroom
This is the room we will be using as the guest room (Large sliding closet on right side wall) This room is at the top of our stairs and is our smallest bedroom but it’s still a nice size for one person.

Also, to get ready.  I’m working hard to get my kids to flush the toilets (especially their turds),  take their dirty underwear clothes to their own rooms, and actually wear clothes while in the house.   If I can accomplish those things, I’d be happy. That’s asking a lot here.  There are strange and foul things happening in my house.   I’m just used to it.   A husband and all boys?  Please…. nothing can offend me now.   I’ve heard and seen EVERYTHING! The dog?  Well, I can’t control his excessive and gross farting.   It is what it is.   He’s a member of the family and he’s getting old. (I shrug)

So, this is where I need all of you to come in!  The objective is not to drive around and go to tourist sites but rather live, eat, shop, and socialize the way an American family typically would.  We will do a couple of weekend day trips and the students will be going to the Grand Canyon.  I need to hear your ideas, expectations and perceptions about visiting the US.  If you were coming for the first time, what would you be excited to see and try if you were staying with a family?   I don’t want to change the way we live as that defeats the whole purpose and why we were selected.  I keep asking the family and they will say anything is fine and will be great.

So, for those of you living abroad your input would be really helpful!  Here are some questions to think about but any feedback would be so appreciated!  It will really help me make my little French gentleman’s visit the best possible experience it could be,

  • What types of home cooked meals would you look most forward to having?
  • What type of shopping or stores would you be interested to see?
  • What are some customs you find interesting that Americans do?
  • What types of meals would be interesting when dining out?
  • What would you not want that you’ve heard Americans typically do or eat?

Remember, this is a 15 year old boy so unfortunately Sephora and a pedi is out of the question!  We will do a day trip to Sedona and a Pink Jeep off-road tour through the red rocks (always fun)!   I may take a drive to LA to Universal Studios and Hollywood  on one weekend.  Otherwise, we’ll be in Phoenix!

HELP!!  HELP!!  PLEASE BRING ON ANY AND ALL IDEAS!!

Janine -XO

17 thoughts on “French Exchange Student Arrival in 30 Days – Need Your Help And Ideas!

  1. As a french girl I would visit my grandparents in the coutry to get away from the hustle and bustle. I didn’t care much for sight seeing. Each region had its own specialty to showcase during their weekly carnival events so I liked going on horse rides and speaking with kids my age. Maybe he will be one of those simple ones who would like to relax and see the natural american culture as it exists when he’s not there. I don’t know but if that’s the case the pool and a bbq grill are so classic. The finger foods seemed to intrigue people in france because they really do eat everything with a fork and knife. I was a rebel and refused but they were amused.

  2. Janice this is a brill post huni…. you are soooooo kind at putting all this effort and consideration into his visit! I thought I’d give you my feedback based on my two younger brother who are obsessed with the idea of visiting the USA. Over here in Europe we do tend to eat quite a lot of potatoes & veg, chicken, fish, pork, beef (cooked dinners) are something that is a big part of our diet. In France bread, cheese, pastries and deli meat is very popular but if he’s anything like my brothers he’ll more than likely just be sooo excited to try your food & snacks 🙂 As for trips – I wouldn’t initially organise too much too soon, let him settle in and see what kind of things would interest him eg if he’s a sports fan maybe he’d adore wandering around a sport shop for an hour, maybe he’s a gamer or into books/gadgets OR potentially hates the thought of shopping altogether lol As for his room I’d tend to maybe gather up some info/brochures of things to do/see – that way in his own quiet time he can take a look through and decide if there’s anything he wants to do. Honestly huni you have it all under control, he’s probably more apprehensive than you are so I’d just be yourselves and figure more stuff out when he arrives.

    Ps: He will LOVE Universal Studios!!!!!
    Pps: Can I be an exchange student & come stay with you Janice?!?!?! Sephora and a pedi sounds AMAZING!!!! lol XXXX

    1. Karen – Oh how excellent that you have 2 younger brothers who want to visit the US! So, this is golden! Do you think it would be snacks like Goldfish, Cheez-Its, Wheat Thins (I know, so healthy, right?) but this is what the kids eat. Potato chips. ugh. LOL. Oh that’s a good, maybe I’ll get book of “Things to do in Phoenix” and a book about the history of the Southwest. YES. OK, the ideas are flowing. Mary suggested a book too, so I can also include a novel. I make little baskets of toiletries when people come so that part I have down! LOL. I guess I could also put a few little things in the basket that are essentially Arizona (e.g. the scorpion paperweight – of course, he can catch his own here) and maybe some little jars of things to take home?

      You are welcome anytime!! I would love to take you all over Scottsdale. We’d go to Sprinkles Cupcakes! Manis and pedis. Sephora, Neiman Marcus and Barney’s (even if we just look in Neiman and Barney’s), Southwest restaurants, HH martinis, FUN FUN FUN!

      1. Aaaaaaaaah stop it Janice!!!! I’ll be booking my flights tonight after day dreaming of all the girly fun we could be having on my trip… heck I’m not sure I’d return home to Ireland lol
        See… your ideas are flowing thick & fast now. Honestly, my two brothers would just want to experience everything American for a change so I doubt you’ll need to make any adjustments at all. The book idea is great – as is the toiletries. Maybe also a little Amercian style journal incase he wanted to write anything down, like a day-by-day log of his adventures etc?! I dunno – maybe I’m getting too twee as that’s something I’d wanna do but then I’m a 30 something year old woman lol Sounds like you have it all under control, I’m sure you’ll be the perfect host huni 🙂 Xxx

  3. Hey I think the idea with the museum is great…I think you should not worry too much, everything will be exotic and interesting to this boy:) Maybe take him for a hike? or to the cinema? you could put a good book in the gift basket 🙂

    1. Oh a book in the basket – that’s an excellent idea. I can get a best seller that’s new that he probably doesn’t have yet. One day while I’m working, my dad will take the boys for a day out at the museum. The problem with a hike is during July in Phoenix it is a 120 degrees. It’s really hard core in July and even early morning and sundown are too hot to be out. We do have a pool, so the kids can swim. For dining out, I wonder if Mexican would be too much of a shock or super interesting? Do you have any thoughts for the welcome basket?

  4. That alphabet blanket looks cozy! As does the room. Had some good laughs too!!
    I’d definitely teach or take him if there is such a place to learn about the Native American culture specific to your area. It’s the perfect history lesson and would likely be of interest to a 15yr old boy. I would cook typical home style meals such a macaroni & cheese casserole, Pot roast,(I’ve the perfect no fail recipe if you’d like to have it) a good old BBQ on weekend’s, maybe even a picnic tossing Frisbee or football, is their anywhere to go fishing? A night camping roasting hot dog’s & making smores..
    There’s just a few ideas.. Even though he probably won’t show it he’ll be nervous so maybe a family dog pile on top of him to break the ice?…lol!

    1. Oh yeah, I should have mentioned we have a very popular museum here called The Heard (it’s like #1 for tourist destinations) – it’s really beautiful. My dad is retired but he is a guide there so we were going to do a private tour (isn’t that cool!??). The museum is all about Native Americans and their collections and exhibits are stunning.

      Yes, send me a recipe for Pot Roast (I don’t have a good one!). I have awesome Mac n Cheese thanks to Ina Garten. (email abeautifulwhim@yahoo.com). Ok, so what do you think about Mexican food? Think that would just be overwhelming? I do cook a lot of Mexican food but it’s so different I’m worried.

      We also have some nice lakes but you have to have a license to fish and we have no equipment or anything. But there are probably group tour things. Only problem is….. OUTDOORS! In July we are 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s too hot to be outside for any activity. We don’t even swim until the sun goes down. LOL

  5. “Since one of our boys sleeps with us, we’re using his room as the guest room. We have a big house and actually 2 of the boys didn’t want to sleep in their rooms because they felt they were too far away from us. Just last year, I got my 13 year old to sleep upstairs but my 5 year old is still with us.” Lol!! That’s so cute! I understand completely, we’ve always been an exceedingly close family, with dogs and cats piling in the bed with us, so it’s been often enough that the whole family squishes together into one bed.

    While I don’t know how helpful they were, I was asking my Thai and Austrian friends about what they thought was really novel about their trip to America. They both thought it was so weird how easily accessible free napkins were here, lol. My Thai friend’s mother stuffed her purse with them at every opportunity. =P Apparently, a steak night seems like a must have to them, as well as eating out at some sort of buffet with fried chicken. My Austrian friend really enjoyed large diet sodas with ice cubes. He also joked about French foil being really thin when he visited last year for a short visit, so maybe a gift of heavy duty aluminum foil would be a boon to the parents of the kid.

    Maybe a hike somewhere? It’s not like you’re off showing them all the sites, but absolutely any state in America is really giant compared to France, so I think it would be neat to go for just a small drive and be able to walk around. There’s a lot to be said for just exploring! But I am from a farm, I guess.

    I heard before that European countries don’t really have much peanut butter in their diets, so maybe just a good ol’ simple lunch of peanut butter and something sandwiches? Nothing wrong with the good ol’ American breakfast of pancakes, fried eggs, and bacon! A grilled cheese sandwich seems inherently American to me as well, and would be a fun treat for the whole family. =P I’ve no idea on what sort of stores to visit, but I think most teenagers, regardless of culture, would enjoy a trip to the mall.

    1. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when Noah flies the coop here. For 5 years, this little guy has slept in my arms and I use strawberry shampoo so I always smell his strawberry hair. Not having him would be like taking my “blankey”. He’s just here with us and it would be weird and sad if he wasn’t. Although I know he has to grow up. One day he’s going to finally sleep upstairs. But hell… it took Justin until he was 12 to finally go!

      Aluminum foil, OMG. LOL. I didn’t think of a buffet. That’s a good one. We have these places here called Sweet Tomatoes that people love. It’s a big salad bar but all this other stuff too. And steak, OK. We can definitely eat at a popular BBQ place (that’s total Southwest right?). I’d love to do a hike BUT it’s a 120 degrees here in July. It’s over a 100 at 10PM at night. We live at the base of South Mountain National Park which is enormous. There’s hiking and biking trails everywhere but in July, we would die. Even at 5AM, it’s rough…. June, July, Aug, Sept – we die. The rest of the year it’s awesome.

      Those are good food ideas. See I wasn’t sure like what do people think is American. To me, it’s weird, I feel like we lack culture and places like France, Mexico, Italy, Greece is full of culture. But then I’m here so it just may be me not seeing it through the eyes of someone else.

      I thought they could do laser tag one afternoon?

      1. You’re welcome! =) Ah yes, I guess the heat would certainly kill a hike! (Only 80 over here, lol, you poor things!) I think America has a lot of richness in its culture, but we’re so used to viewing it as the norm we can overlook it.

        1. I didn’t think of it but I guess Cheez-Its and Oreos would be exciting. But how does that compare to a french pastry! LOL. I guess my husband might be able to take the kids to the salt river where they do rafting down the river (or tubing) – I’m just not getting my cellulite butt out there.

          1. Lol, well I dunno about how it compares to French snacks, but I know I’m always excited when we get Cheez-Its and Oreos! ;P Might have to have a S’more night outside if it’s not too messy for youse all. As far as I’m concerned, most women have cellulite, it’s almost purely a feminine thing, why not rock it? 😉 The salt river would be awesome, I’m sure!

            1. Oh, mine is not good. I have to wear jeans out there. I don’t even wear shorts! LOL Smores is a cool idea. We have one of those little Southwest chimineas outside that we light when we eat out there. They can do smores.. yummy! How cute!

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