Nearly every exchange student wants to visit well-known American cities like San Francisco and New York City, but activities pertaining to everyday life can be much more meaningful and perspective-altering than travel tourism. Whether you are currently hosting an exchange student or are simply curious about what activities are highly American in nature, consider these memorable ideas:
1. Visit a monster truck rally. Consider providing earplugs. It's even more of a cultural experience if the show takes place at a state fair.
2. Shop at Costco, Sam's Club, or another warehouse-style wholesale store. Nothing reflects mainstream American life like the pallet-sized quantities of the stuff we typically eat.
3. Dine at Red Robin, TGI Fridays, or Applebee's. These may not be your favorite go-to restaurants, but these eateries will immerse your student in pop culture Americana while he or she chows down on a mainstream American meal.
4. Take your student trick-or-treating (in costume, of course). That said, he or she may find it even more entertaining to be the one to open your front door at every knock or ring.
5. Go to a high school football game. (American football, that is—not soccer.) The cheerleaders and padded players will prompt your student to say, "It's just like [that sitcom T.V. show]." But unlike watching an American sitcom, your student will get to spot classmates he or she is getting to know.
6. Visit a megachurch. No matter one's religious or personal beliefs, attending a large American church service is definitely a unique experience. Ask around for recommendations for a good church-based youth group in your community, because many exchange students make true friends there thanks to the lighthearted social games and camaraderie.
7. Go to a country music concert. Bonus points for dressing the part.
8. Visit the local humane society. This explains a lot about why we don't have stray animals wandering around.
9. Seat your student at your family's Thanksgiving table. Pumpkin Pie and cheesecake are much tastier than their odd names imply.
10. Get him or her into prom and the graduation ceremony if you can. These rites of passage are unforgettable, particularly for those who are seeing them through a foreigner's lens. Many schools allow exchange students to walk at graduation even if they are not receiving a diploma.
Other ideas: Snap your student's photo with Santa at the shopping mall. Participate in a (peaceful) flash mob. Attend a rodeo. Go camping.
Which of these activities have you never done? Which do you consider to be the most American? What would you add to the list?