10 Things to Do with Your Exchange Student

10 Things to Do with Your Exchange Student



If you’re wondering what to do with your exchange student, consider this: Even something you think of as mundane, such as going to the grocery store, can be interesting to an international guest. When you're in a different country, everything can feel different and exciting—so we encourage you to include your student in all sorts of activities, big and small. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Walk Around Your Neighborhood

You might’ve walked around your neighborhood 1,000 times, but keep in mind that it’ll be your exchange student’s first time. Get your new friend acquainted with your street and beyond! Things will likely look different than they do at home in France or Spain or Japan (or wherever the student is from). Plus, you might see your neighborhood through a new lens. 

2. Cook or Bake Together

There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal. Cooking or baking with your student is a great way to spend quality time and get to know each other. It’s also an opportunity to share your recipes and learn new ones from abroad. If your exchange student wants to share a recipe from home, take a trip to the grocery store together and let him or her pick out the ingredients.

3. Do Arts and Crafts/Build Something

Get your creative juices flowing and draw, paint, or craft together. Or, go big and build something! This can be done around the house with any available supplies, or somewhere in the city. Painting ceramics (which are then glazed and kiln-fired) is a lot of fun for all ages, and Portland has lots of studios, including CeramiCafe Art Lounge.

4. Play a Game

From pool to ping-pong to board games to sports, playing a game with your exchange student is always an exciting way to have fun and bond. Unless you’re playing Scrabble, language barriers need not apply!

5. Go on a Hike/Nature Outing

Portland and its surrounding areas are full of stunning places to hike. Show your student the beauty of the Pacific Northwest by heading to the Columbia River Gorge, or even checking out one of Portland’s parks or trails. Exploring a section of the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park is a great way to experience a lush forest without having to leave Portland.  

6. Go to a Farmers Market, the Saturday Market, or a Nearby Festival

Strolling through one of Portland’s markets is an exciting and relaxing way to spend a few hours on the weekend. Plus, it’s the perfect place for your exchange student to pick up a souvenir to bring home! Nearby seasonal festivals are always big hits, too. Many families like to head south to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest in the spring, but the Portland area has dozens of great festivals throughout the year.

7. Visit a Museum or Garden

Is there a museum you’ve been wanting to visit for a while (OMSI or the Portland Art Museum, perhaps?), but keep putting it off? Or maybe you’re overdue for a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden or Rose Garden? Having a guest in town for a few weeks is always a great excuse to do all those things around the city that you’ve been meaning to do. Exchange students love visiting museums and other centers of interest to see more of what Portland has to offer—and even learn a thing or two.

8. Watch a Sports Game

If there’s something that people from any country can bond over, it’s sports. Depending on the time of year, it could be possible to see one of Portland’s teams in person (Blazers, Timbers, Thorns, etc.). Watching a game at home or at a restaurant can be fun, too! Gather friends and neighbors and make it an event your exchange student will be sure to remember.

9. Grab a Sweet Treat

Who doesn’t love a delicious, locally made treat? Portland is chock-full of places to grab coffee, hand-churned ice cream, or unique donuts. International students are always delighted by the interesting flavors at Salt and Straw and the fun donut shapes at the legendary Voodoo Doughnut. Take your exchange student to one of these Portland staples, or to a hidden gem in your neighborhood!

10. Go on a Photo Adventure

Your friend from abroad will want to show their family and friends back home lots of photographs from their trip. Why not spend a few hours walking around and making snapshots? This is a good opportunity to pay a visit to the “typical Portland” spots—those photogenic places that just scream Portland. Or, simply walk around a neighborhood with interesting houses, or check out a part of town you’ve never been, camera in hand. By seeing Portland through a visitor’s eyes, you might be surprised by what you notice or learn about the place you call home.

What's your favorite low-cost activity to do with exchange students in Portland? Let us know on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!