Wry Exchange

Exchange Student Host Family Gifts
08-03-08, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Culture, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

For students coming to the USA: Picture books about your country and city, cookbook with photos-in English if possible, photo postcards of your town, touristy gifts (bring lots of keychains and magnets) with your country’s name on them, anything with your country’s flag.

Examples: Chile:small copper boxes, bookmarks, and plaques.  Bolivia: Andean textiles, clay figurines.  Brasil: Havaianas, Argentina: leather, dulce de leche, Netherlands-small windmills, Delft, wooden shoes, France: silk scarves, fashion-y items, Italy-murano glass, Costa Rica-coffee beans, Germany-small cuckoo clock, beer stein, India-brass, Japan-fans 

 For students leaving the USA:  Nothing with the country name or flag.  Make your gifts state, county, or city specific-don’t bring “USA” themed items.  Photo books, picture cookbook with measuring cups for liquids and solids.  If you take scented candles or body products, make certain they are made in the states!  Pretty much anything Ralph Lauren.  Memory sticks.  Canvas tote bags.  Weird US candy-like kids’ sour candy and gum. Hot sauce, chocolates, peanut butter, maple syrup, beef jerky, Jelly Bellys, pancake mix.  Christmas ornaments.  Zippos.  Cool, useful, ‘only in Amurrica’ gifts like silicone potholders and baking , ShakeNBake,pans.  Take packets of mixes for ranch dressing, sloppy joes, tacos, meat loaf, gravy, and chili.  Leather man pocket tool, and American magazines-Newsweek, People, Vogue, InStyle, Men’s Health.  Small children enjoy Barbie and toys that tie in to current movies and TV shows.  Car adaptor for MP3/Ipod.  Small travel size bottles of US designer colognes-Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren.  I have 2 fridge magnets that are great international gifts-one has a brownie recipe on it, and the other is a cooking measurement converter.  ETA: quality playing cards, poker chips, quarters from your home state.

Bonus points if the gift is state specific-Zippos/PA, Victoria’s Secret/OH, Salmon/AK, Maple Syrup/VT, Ghirardelli/CA, Hershey’s/PA, Mars/NV, Smucker’s peanut butter/OH, Turquoise/NM, Jack Daniels’/KY 🙂  Starbuck’s/WA, Old Bay seasoning/MD, Tabasco/LA, Fiesta ware/WV.

I think most countries have Jello, Heinz ketchup, and jelly/jams.   Check with your specific country, they may adore items from college and pro football teams or Nascar. Do NOT take any plant seeds.


Welcome Gifts for Exchange Students
07-31-08, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

From an old post: Have you thought of a welcome gift?  I like to buy a few plain, neutral Old Navy t-shirts, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, small sizes of shampoo, soap, bath gel, razor, deodorant, and sunscreen.  She may be too shy the first few days to use the family’s products.  I get an assortment of gum, chocolate, and gummi candy, as well as a few school supplies.  And of course, a small-as-possible dictionary to carry in his pocket.
Buy a phone card so your student can call to let her family know she arrived safely.  I like buying these online. www.nobelcom.com 
  And this year’s update:  I’m picking up  small gifts for my seven students a little at a time.  I stopped at Target last week and grabbed 7 Spanish-English dictionaries from the dollar bins.  Today I picked up 7 clear plastic folders/envelopes in the dollar section.  The smaller ones are used to store checks, and the full-size ones are for bills.  Anyway, the point is for the students to keep their return plane ticket, insurance information, passport, any notarized letters from their parents, and all other important papers in this clear folder with IMPORTANT or DOCUMENTS written with a thick black marker so it doesn’t get lost.

I’m not using Nobel for phone calls as much as I used to.  I still like it, but I like Rebtel.com much better.  I can use Rebtel to call from my cellphone to cellphones in other countries.  I can automatically add $10.00 to my account anytime I get below $2.00.  I call a local (to me) number, and magically, I’m speaking with someone in Chile or Germany.  Cheap international mobile calls – Rebtel  It’s good for calling from other countries, too.  It’s an European based company.  Check them out.

For Host Families: When I host, I’ll buy a few larger items.  A full-size US flag is nice; throughout the year the students have people they meet sign them.  A pretty journal or a business card case is nice.  A teddy bear is good to hold on to for the first week; everyone needs a friend.  A tshirt or hoodie from the local high school is a great gift.

Gifts for Students Living Abroad
12-17-07, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

It’s way too late to mail anything, and it’s iffy this time of year anyway.  Go to Amazon.com, and see if they have an Amazon.whatever country the student is living in.   I went to Amazon.de to send a gift certificate to a student in Germany.  I don’t know German, but I know Amazon.  I did ok until the amount.  I put in 15 Euros for the amount, but when I got to the confirm/checkout page, 225 Euros was listed.  I’ll have to wait until another German speaker gets online to help me.

If the country doesn’t have an Amazon.com, Google ‘department store’ for that country.  They should have a website, so you can send a gift certificate or choose a gift, and have one sent from in-country.

If that doesn’t work, send a phone card from online, put money into his Paypal account, or give the parents the money to put on FES’s debit card.  Send me comments or suggestions, and I’ll put them up for everyone to read.

 Edit: Check out this post from a few days ago for gift suggestions for FES’s in the US now.   Poor M had to order his own gift.  He asked me what to write on the card.  Too funny.

Christmas Gifts for Foreign Exchange Students
12-13-07, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Exchange Students, Home, hosting | Tags: ,

 Please consider giving any exchange students you know a Christmas gift or greeting card.  The students appreciate any act of kindness.   If the student isn’t Christian, and doesn’t typically celebrate Christmas, give her a card or present anyway.  Just play up the secular American holiday aspect.   (Don’t send me hate mail, yapping at me to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas.’   Christmas is also a cultural celebration in the states, not to mention the commercialism.)

  • Small, unbreakable tree ornament as a keepsake, perhaps with 2007 engraved on it.  Target has metal photo frame ornaments with 2007 for under five dollars.  FES doesn’t have to have a tree to hang it on, he can hang it on the wall when he goes home.
  • Small snowman for students from tropical climates.
  • Phone cards.  I like the ones from Nobelcom.com
  • If FES’s cellphone is a pay-as-you-go, phone minutes.
  • Itunes giftcard
  • Starbucks, Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, or fastfood giftcard.  Most FES’s have a favorite fastfood brand.  Some love McDonald’s, others are Taco Bell kids.
  • Movie theatre giftcard
  • Memory stick/flash drive
  • Two dollar bill or a dollar coin.  Many of the students don’t realize we have dollar coins or a two dollar bill. 
  • Presentation folder for the state quarters, with quarters.  I’ve bought these at Barnes & Noble.
  • Take FES to a pro or college basketball or hockey game.
  • Husband says ‘anything electronic.’  How about an Ipod?

Giftcards may seem impersonal, but the kids are usually broke.  Five, Ten, or twenty dollars would be greatly appreciated.  The students are also severely weight limited.  Many other countries don’t permit returns or exchanges, so if FES doesn’t like or can’t fit into something, she’ll just keep it instead of going back to the store. 

Please write a note on any greeting card you give a FES.  The kids think it’s odd because we just sign ‘Fondly, Wry & Husband’ instead of writing a few or more sentences.  Think of the card as a keepsake, because he’ll almost certainly take the card home with him.

Please don’t make baby Jesus cry by giving FES Axe body spray.  Thank you.

Host Family Gifts & Wry the Pack Mule
11-09-07, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , , , ,

 Exchange students must take a number of gifts to present to certain people.  The ‘ceremonial’ gifts go to their counselor, their first host family, the person who set up the exchange, and the President of the program’s parent group.  (I put ceremonial in parentheses because it’s not quite that formal, but the gifts are expected.)

I thought of this because I’m taking gifts to Bolivia with me.  I’ll write a post for different countries later on this year after I ask some of the FES’s to help me out with gift ideas.

I have 2 suitcases, and I’ll try to stay within the 50 pound weight limit.    I am taking a ton of candy-Costco sizes of Dumdum suckers, Cow Tales, 2 bags fun-sized Snickers and Milky Way mix, Pixie Stix, and then smaller bags of candy corn, Reese’s Cups, gummy worms, and about 10 10-packs of Polar Ice chewing gum.  I have 6 bottles of anti-bacterial liquid soap from Bath and Body Works, and about 10 of their various travel sized mini products.  I have 9 Victoria’s Secret lip-glosses, 6 small colognes, tote-bag, several splashes and lotions, and some other makeup.  I am taking various scented soaps and candles, Christmas ornaments, clay coasters, 3 photo books about my state, 6 pairs of short sport socks, tech deck toy skateboards, candle holders, the car radio, a digital camera, tennis racket, huge TOEFL workbook, weird tasting Harry Potter Jelly Bellies, ball caps, t-shirts, sweatshirt, Jack Daniel’s, US wines, gold jewelry for 3 special gifts, and some small oddities like Gorilla Glue, Udder cream, measuring cup and spoons, silicone hot-pads, and gel comfort pads for high heels.  I have 20 small gift bags and tissue paper to give the gifts.   I KNOW I’ll forget something.  Oh, and 2 other people are giving me stuff to take down for them, too.

If there is any room left, I’ll toss in a pair of shorts and and a change of underwear. Maybe sunscreen, too.  Wish me luck.

Preparing for Bolivia Trip
11-06-07, 12:29 am
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , , ,

 I’ve decided not to obtain a Yellow fever inoculation.  If you get a reaction, it comes 5-10 days after the injection. I’m leaving on the 13th.  I’m not taking any anti-malarial medicine, either.  I will be in areas where mosquitoes carry malaria and Yellow fever.  I tell my exchange students they should take precautions before they go.  I should be fine as long as I avoid mosquito bites.   So my plan is…hope? Avon’s Skin so Soft?
I’m supposed to bring tennis shoes and a swimsuit.  Sparky told me I’ll be doing ‘activities.’  I teased that I don’t do activities.  He told me I will, because I’ll be in Bolivia, and he’s in charge now.  I’ll miss his graduation party.  The party is on the evening I return home.  The party begins at 10:00pm, and my flight leaves at midnight.  I’m sad.  But, I’ll be there for his 18th birthday, and graduation.  (I bought the most gorgeous formal gown, too. Damn.) I called the airline, and the next available return flight isnt until 10 days later. 
 Oh well, more room to pack gifts.  I have another huge list of beauty products from Victoria’s Secret to buy, a car radio, digital camera, Reeses cups, DumDums, 2 books about my state, a bi-lingual visual dictionary, and candy bars made by a local manufacturer.
I’ll make presentations about our program to three different groups.  I’ll look for a service project that we can help with as a joint project between our two groups.  I’ll make a few speeches once I return home, too.

Black Amish Nachos
10-30-07, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , , ,

 Do you know what are ‘black Amish nachos?’  If you speak Exchangish, you know they’re blue corn tortilla chips.  Husband and I guessed correctly.   One of the Bolivian students wants me to bring some down to Bolivia with me, ‘even if they get all smushed.’   I’m also taking  Pixie stix, Cowtails, candy corn, sour gummy worms, vinegar potato chips, Goldfish crackers, Oreos,  and a whole bunch of scented crap from Victoria’s Secret.  Junk food in one suitcase, cologne, bath gel, body lotion, and candles in the other.  

Did you know there are Amish and Mennonites in Bolivia?  When we first hosted Bolivians, we’d point out the Amish and Mennonite families.  The kids would say ‘Ho-hum, we see them at home.’