Kim Hudson: Hosting summer student a revealing experience

Lisa, a summer exchange student from France, has her first culinary encounter with a steamed Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab.

I love to travel. I especially love going to new places and experiencing the local culture and people. So when friends of mine asked if my family would host a girl from France this summer, I jumped at the opportunity. I may or may not have had to twist the arm of a family member or two.

Lisa, our new friend, is 15 years old. She’s from a small town called Agen located in southwestern France. She stayed at our house for 15 days and impressed us with her English. Lisa’s father, Eric, is a Chief with the fire station in Agen. He visited Salisbury 20 years ago with a group when they competed in the Fireman’s Muster. He’s been back several times and keeps in contact with many from our local fire station. Eric came to Salisbury with Lisa but in order to give his daughter an independent experience, he stayed and worked at the fire station while she stayed with my family.

My goal was to introduce Lisa to our little slice of America here on the Eastern Shore. She explained that coming to the United States had been a dream of hers for a long time and she just wanted to experience life here. So we did a little bit of everything that we could.

We went boating and crabbing. She tasted her first steamed crab. We went to Salisbury University, downtown Salisbury, the mall and other stores. We rode around town and pointed out buildings and shops. We went to Assateague (we rode around until we found horses to show her) and Ocean City where she enjoyed Thrashers and ice cream. The boardwalk was definitely a highlight of her trip. We took her to her first baseball game. We went to Annapolis where I should have taken her to see the Maryland State House and the Naval Academy, but she’s 15 and she wanted to shop. So we went to the mall – twice.

We took her to different restaurants and to the grocery store. She wanted to eat at a fast food restaurant that was not in France, so we went to Chick-fil-A. There was more that we did and much more that we didn’t get a chance to do. It was a fun filled two weeks.

Here’s what I learned – a teenager is a teenager no matter where they live. I laughed at the amount of time Lisa was on her phone. The nice restaurants I wanted to take her to didn’t hold a candle to French fries and Chick-fil-A. The perception others have of Americans is just what we thought, fat and lazy. Although Lisa assured us we did not fall into that category.  And I was reminded yet again how the rest of the world values our English language.

Showing our beautiful area to someone new is a treat. It’s so easy to take it all for granted. Lisa commented on how nice everything was and how friendly the people are. One of the highlights for me was the chance to tour Salisbury Fire Department Station 16, thanks to Lisa’s dad Eric and Assistant Chief Bryan Records. This facility is most impressive and I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to visit.

Lisa and her father left Salisbury to explore Philadelphia and New York City before they headed back to France. I helped her pick out some American junk food to take home and laughed as she stared wide eyed at all the choices.

I really enjoyed hosting Lisa. I will say that my kids didn’t bond with her like I’d hoped they would, but two weeks probably wasn’t enough time, considering each of their personalities. I thought Lisa was very brave to come to our country and stay with strangers. She did remarkably well with her English and navigating our currency. Learning about Lisa’s hometown only sparked my travel bug even more and I look forward to the day that I can visit France.

Contact Kim Hudson at


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