Room To Grow

I’m not going to lie, probably my favorite part of the time in between exchange students is setting up their bedroom.  I absolutely love it.  It’s pretty sad.  It’s not MY room.  I don’t ever sleep in there and rarely even go in other than if the kid needs help locating a city on their map.  What map?  I’ll get to that.  Without spending much money there are a ton of things you can do to provide a welcoming bedroom.  While I know people who put their exchange student in a guest bedroom, and I think this is fine, I think even if you don’t have the ability to make one room your exchange student room, you can still do a few nice little (cheap!) things to the room the student will call theirs for the year.

  1. The vinyl wall map is the coolest thing ever.  Easily procured in any color you could want from Etsy (if I haven’t mentioned it, I am OBSESSED with Etsy) for a great price are maps of the US.  Whether or not you plan on doing a ton of traveling, it’s a nice piece to put on the wall and can be marked throughout the year to show where your exchange student has been.  The first year we ordered a pink map for Naomi (the exchange student room is brown) and then used sticky rhinestones to mark off where we went.  After she left I labeled it with her name and school year.  I need to relabel it because the mailbox lettering looks awful.  But that’s a different story for a different day.  Tom’s map is green and above the bed.  We found vinyl checkmarks for him and they included a little house and some hearts for places of importance.  I haven’t ordered D’s map yet (note to self: order D’s map!) but it will be on her wall soon and ready to start.  We’re pretty sure our first trip will be in August to Chicago… it’s the traditional first trip.  The best thing about these maps, besides their price and awesomeness, is that they go up on the wall easily (if I can do it, anyone can) and come down without damage.  We’ll keep ours up forever… it’s a great way to remember the year.
  2. Something with their name for the door.  This is more a girl thing than a boy thing, in my opinion.  For Naomi we had a pink dancer (she’s into dance) in a flurry of musical notes set over a barcode.  When you scan the barcode it reads, “een jaar om te onthouden” which means “a year to remember”.  We didn’t do a door hanging for Tom (totally not into stuff like this, the boys are) but I finally got D’s the other day.  And it’s awesome.  I can’t post about it here just in case she checks in.
  3. Frames and photos of friends and family.  We’re talking dollar store frames.  Or ones around the house that you’re not using.  You don’t need to buy anything.  Then print some photos from the students facebook page, or the pictures they sent in introductory emails, and place them around the room.  You don’t have to plaster the walls, but a few pictures of family and good friends make the room feel more like it belongs to the student.
  4. A small token gift.  Naomi’s flight had been delayed so we brought hers in the car so that she would have a little something nice (the flowers Kris had bought for her died well before she finally got to us).  It was a simple box of goodies from Cherry Republic, a store in downtown Ann Arbor that carries Michigan-themed gifts.  We also left her a small box of adorable Michigan stationary.  If you know what the student is into it’s easy to pick a gift but if you don’t: a t-shirt from your town or city or from the high school they will attend, gift certificate for movie tickets, journal, or anything else that is representative of your excitement about the year to come works perfectly.
  5. Snazzy Touches.  We have an old dresser that we don’t use but never got rid of.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  It’s just very 1990’s.  To spruce it up I went to World Market and bought some cool drawer pulls.  It just gives it a little something that it’s missing.  On the nightstand that matches the bed we have a special surprise (I will post about it after D arrives… I’m a jerk, I know).  I found some cool antique stencils for dirt cheap on Etsy and spelled out Naomi’s name above her closet.  Garage sales and auctions are cool places to find the perfect little piece for decorating.

Once D is here we will post some pictures of her room.  We always find out the student’s favorite color and use that (Naomi – Pink, Tom – Green, D – white, black, silver and pink) to help guide our choices.  Even just a blanket or pillow in the student’s favorite color can make a big difference!  What are you doing to prepare your exchange student’s room?


One thought on “Room To Grow

  1. Have I posted about the flag? I feel like I always think about posting about the flag and then think, “I must have posted about this a hundred times!” and don’t. But if I haven’t, I should.

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