Seeing America (or part of it….): Road Trip With Our Exchange Student

I am not a travel blogger and don’t have any intention of trying to be one. And I don’t post many personal stories, except bits and pieces that relate to study abroad. But sometimes the two converge.

Redtail car and pupsWe’re on day three of a road trip from Portland to San Diego, complete with RV, car in tow behind (“toad,” as RV’ers call them), 2 dogs — and exchange student. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, our 16 yr old German exchange student has been living with us since August 2014. Most of the students who have been on exchange this past year have left or are leaving within the next week or so. Jan and two dozen others across the U.S. will stay with their host family or local coordinators until mid-July, at which time they will head to NY for their responsibilities as camp and orientation counselors for hundreds of incoming students.

Jan had originally hoped to spend the two weeks Mark and I are in California with family friends in San Francisco; the idea was we would drop him off on the way down and pick him up a week or so later. But with the news that the family friends were visiting their own home and family in Germany, Jan took the initiative and asked if he could come with us.

Not necessarily a small request, since it’s not a large RV. With two adults and two 75 lb German shepherds it can be a challenge to find space and not step on each other’s toes. Add a teenager and it can be interesting. Since I’m writing this post we obviously decided to do it.

Now, we’ve been to most of the places we are stopping at. We’ve taken the RV to California twice before. We lived in California during law and graduate school, and drove back and forth between northern California and Portland countless times visiting family in Portland. But this is different.

I’m hoping we can look at it anew, from the perspective of our student who has not been to any of these places. We’re doing what host families do — we’re “sharing our America” — and we hope to learn something along the way.

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