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14yo French Exchange boy here - struggling to find common ground - HELP!

33 replies

IDismyname · 05/08/2012 11:16

I am doing a second generation French exchange with the girl I did my exchange with. We have her 14 yo son here, who arrived with a double ear infection last Monday.

So - it wasn't a good start; he was very brave and we got him to a doctors and got him some ear drops and antibiotics, and he's def on the mend, now. He's a lovely chap - good English, bright and rather 'bookish'. He's devouring books very fast and I've ordered more for him on Amazon (written in French). Loves music, too. Is in his own world half the time

Trouble is, I have a 14 yo son who is a speed freak. Loves being outside, doing downhill biking, getting muddy, getting wet and generally being pretty active. Reading is a last resort! The two are like oil and water.

We've been out quite a bit, in order to make a bit of common ground, done Mercedes Benz World (lot of shrugging and looking at the ceiling from my French friend), we went down to Portsmouth where I spent a small fortune at the Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays etc. Felt I got no value for money that day and came home feeling v demoralised. Don't want to do a repeat performance in London, for instance, and get the same effect. I may say something that I'll regret!

Its pi**ing down with rain here, and I feel really stuck! Every time I ask him what he wants to do, its the shrug and "I don't mind". Apart from watching the Olympics (that's about 10 mins) and watching DVDs with subtitles, there is nothing I've found that they can do.

Has anyone else been here? What did you do?

Any ideas gratefully received!

OP posts:
IDismyname · 05/08/2012 11:47


OP posts:
ggirl · 05/08/2012 12:04

god sounds painful!
I feel for you...have had a few awkward exchanges myself.
14 is difficult age too.
I can't think of anything besides everything you're already doing hopefully someone will be along with a brilliant idea.

ggirl · 05/08/2012 12:06

how about the Harry Potter warner bros studio place?

LadySybildeChocolate · 05/08/2012 12:07

Is there a Games Workshop near you? He may like to play something. Any bands? Theme park? He'd probably like the British Library in London if you're planning a trip. Why don't you ask him?

Theas18 · 05/08/2012 12:09

WE took our french exchange student walking on the Malverns ona moderately foul weather day and then out for tea at a tea shop. tHat was fun- though taking 10yr old DD2 (and DS then 13) was the think that cemented the whole thing together I suspect.

FallenCaryatid · 05/08/2012 12:09

Pity you didn't liaise more with his parents, is it too late to email and ask them for suggestions?
You said he likes music, pop or more classical? Would a ticket to the proms appeal?
Theme park?
What sort of books is he reading, what are his interests? What does your DS do that he could be included in as a first-timer?

bigTillyMint · 05/08/2012 12:18

Was going to say Apple Store and Theme Parks.
Are you near London? There's loads of stuff to do here, both Olympics related and otherwise that is free Wink

IDismyname · 05/08/2012 12:43

Thank you all for your thoughts -

I sent over a whole load of ideas that we'd put together as suggestions for his time over here -
Thorpe Park, Warner Bros Studio Tour, Stonehenge, London museums (was a bit hesitant over London as I didn't know was it was going to be like), rock climbing at local centre, Go Ape tree trailing, Go Karting, Portsmouth and The Victory.

I had no reply, so pushed again, and his Mum said "Oh, he'd like to do all of those things".

Well as it turns out, he doesn't. He is managing to do bike rides now and again, but won't get wet or muddy.

We ARE doing the Warner Bros Studio Tour tomorrow, but anything active has been met with a "non". The Victory and Portsmouth was an expensive mistake.

I'm just at at a loss, and a bit stressed knowing we have another 9 sleeps to get through. I'm willing to throw a bit of money at the situation if I know it will conjure up some Entente Cordiale.

(And there remains to be a conversation about a return match in France next summer - I'm thinking, er - no! :))

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LadySybildeChocolate · 05/08/2012 12:49

Is he homesick? He won't enjoy anything if he's missing his mum and his home comforts. Is there a french restaurant you can take him to for some 'home' food.

GWenlockMaryLacey · 05/08/2012 12:50

Does sound painful but tbh, I'd leave him to it. if you're suggesting things and he's outright saying no then what else you can do. I'd tell him to have a think and let you know if he spies anything he fancies doing. Otherwise point him towards the fridge or local shops and leave him to his books.

FallenCaryatid · 05/08/2012 12:51

Poor sods, I feel for the pair of them. Grin
Parents often have these wonderful ideas...

bigTillyMint · 05/08/2012 12:54

London is great at the moment - transport system seems to be holding up OK and there are lots of extra things on.

I did lots of French exchanges and only one was a drip. But her mum and dad and little brother were lovely, so it was fine! If your exchange boy's mum reckons he'd do those things, maybe she'd be prepared to do some fun stuff with him? And maybe he has funner siblings?!

LadySybildeChocolate · 05/08/2012 12:54

I love to pack ds off for a week so that he can experience another culture. I don't think he'd be happy at all though, he's a mums boy.

IDismyname · 05/08/2012 15:00

I think the return trip for my ds will be better, as our French boy has a younger brother who's into football, swimming and table tennis. The mum and dad are lovely, so think it'll work better. They're in Nice and have a house in Corsica, too. Heavenly!

Am just sitting here after lunch, and he's slunk back into his bedroom. If it wasn't for Ben Ainslie on the box over lunch (YES! another Gold!) - we'd have had the 'So what do you REALLY want to do?" discussion.

It will have to wait a bit longer....

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princessclaradoll · 06/08/2012 15:34

Show him your suggestion list and suggest he googles them (le google?) and picks three he would like to do over the next 9 days. Also suggest he does some research (la google?) and see if he can find anything locally he may be interested in.

the whole point of an exchange is to try new cultural things so give him a bit of a nudge in that direction!

IDismyname · 06/08/2012 19:06

I thought I'd update you - if you're bothered!! :)

I said at supper last night - look, we want you to be happy staying with us, and we feel that sometimes you're not. So - we've got a few ideas....

and with that, we sat him down, explained all the ideas, and then told him he had to say Yes or No to each suggestion. (A Gallic shrug and a purse of the lips as air is exhaled was not an option).

I feel we've made progress, and also he knows that we are doing our best.

Went to see the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio Tour today - great success. Its the most animated I've seen him all week.

He nearly smiled....

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IDismyname · 06/08/2012 19:07

... but I'm still counting the 'sleeps' until he goes back!

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ggirl · 06/08/2012 20:21

arf at 'he nearly smiled"

sounds so painful!

discrete · 06/08/2012 20:26

The museums in London should be great for him. Natural history, science and the V&A all have something for pretty much anyone. What did he think of those as an idea?

IloveJudgeJudy · 06/08/2012 20:37

Having been on lots of exchanges myself I think he's got a bit kof resonsibility to decide to enjoy himself. Could you ask your friend to talk to her DS? Do you have any younger DC? I do sympathise. It must be horrible for you. Second the big museums idea if he's bookish. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

EclecticShock · 06/08/2012 20:46

Does he like cooking? Music? 14 yr old boys are hard enough but the culture difference must make it more challenging. I'm sure he likes girls :). Although, that probably doesn't help you...

Earlybird · 06/08/2012 20:54

Sounds like you are making efforts of heroic proportions to be a good host and ensure he has fun.

Wild guess, but sounds as if his Mum wanted him to come for the 'experience' but that he wasn't much into the idea - hence the lack of interest in most everything.

BUt that doesn't help you manage the next (very long) week....

PrincessOfSnails · 06/08/2012 21:03

Sounds like you're in my neck of the woods so how about Winchester for a mooch around? There's some culture stuff there with the cathedral etc but also a Jack Wills which I believe all the kids are into these days. Intech Science Museum is nearby. Plus there is a fantastic French restaurant.

Alternatively what about:
The New Forest
Monkey World in Dorset
Weymouth (if Olympics is still on thee, not sure)
Longeat Safari Park and maze

Umm I'm all out

IloveJudgeJudy · 06/08/2012 21:07

Plus, I sometimes teach students English in my own home and the company has the most trouble with teenage, usually French, boys. Their parents want them to come, but they don't want to. Usually 14-16 yos.

starfishmummy · 06/08/2012 21:14

Perhaps he is still not feeling great due to the ear thing and abx??

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