An Exchange to Remember!

Waiting for your kids to come home from an overseas trip is nerve wracking.  Although you know an exchange experience is a great for them – the fact they are over 7000 km away makes it tough.  I guess this is something we will have to get used to.  We couldn’t wait for Zoe and Mikhaila to come home from their very successful French exchange in Annecy, France.

This is how I was feeling while the kids were away!

We were so happy to see their fabulous faces when they returned and we couldn’t stop hugging them!  It was also wonderful to welcome our French guests Zoe (yes another Zoe!) and Juline.

Welcome Home and Welcome to Canada!

The main goal of the exchange was to assist Zoe and Juline in learning English. The ground rules were easy….everyone had to speak English.  If the girls didn’t know a word, we would help them out and they would have to repeat it in their sentence.  They were game…it was time for their adventure in Ontario to begin!

We started off the English Exchange by getting ready for Mikhaila’s Sweet 16 Friends Party.  We had fun eating, playing games, and watching the Princess Bride under the stars in the backyard.

The next day, we packed up an overnight bag and drove up North to Midland.  The girls learned more about Canada’s history at Saint Marie among the Huron and enjoyed some time at Wasaga beach. Nothing beats cottage ice cream – the cones are always bigger than in the city…Zoe and Juline were so impressed with Moose Tracks ice cream!

Back in Toronto, the weather was lovely and we had a great time at the Toronto Zoo.  Everyone had a chance to see the baby pandas, as well as polar bears, rhinos, birds, monkeys and more!  To follow up our special panda visit, we went to the Mandarin restaurant where our young visitors experienced the all you can eat Chinese buffet.  For fun, we all received a plush panda bear as a treat!

Another time, we went to Canada’s Wonderland where the girls went on rides, ate funnel cakes, and enjoyed some of the great shows put on by fabulous performers. There is educational value and language learning opportunities at Wonderland – trust me.  I kept making the kids talk while we waited in lines for the rides!

Of course working at TVO has its perks! We were able to get into a studio tour where all the kids had a chance to explore the TVOKids set, meet Daniel – the host of the live show “the Space”, check out master control, and learn more about live television.  It was a treat for all!

Time in nature is always needed even when you are learning a second language, so off we went to our backyard national park, The Rouge!  We had a great time hiking, creek walking, and enjoying the beautiful fresh air.  It is  such a fantastic space!

During the summer, High Park always puts on a Shakespeare play outdoors – this year it was Twelfth Night.  The girls were able to discover the park playground, check out the petting zoo, and have a picnic.  Prior to the play, we made sure they understood the story so they could sit back on the lawn of the outdoor theatre and watch Twelfth Night under the stars.  Nothing like Shakespeare to help you learn English:)

We were also really impressed by our own Pickering library who put on an outdoor movie night so we could enjoy Beauty and the Beast.  It was a great connection with the French girls because the movie takes place in France and they already knew the story in their first language.  It was a perfect opportunity to learn some more vocab and have a fun evening.

For one week during their exchange, all of the girls participated in the Scarborough Music Theatre Youth Camp.  Each day they danced, sang and acted as they learned more about the theatre.  Their final show for the week was Beauty and the Beast.  Again – another great connection! I can’t post more photos from the camp as they include  kids that haven’t given us permission. But trust me – it was amazing and all the girls couldn’t stop talking about the fun.

For a final night of frivolity and learning, we went to Medieval Times where everyone could eat a meal with their hands and watch a spectacular show involving horses, knights, a king, princess and more.  The girls even had a chance to see a falcon close up after the show!

But all good things must come to an end!  I know how Zoe and Juline’s parents must have been feeling….going through your usual day, and then all of a sudden, you realize something is just not right. Part of the family is not there…and even though you tell yourself it’s a good experience for all involved, it doesn’t make it any easier.  As we said au revoir to our young travellers, we know that all four of these wonderful young women will always remember their incredible exchange this year.  I think all of the parents will also never forget it.

We’re so glad everything went well and all the travellers arrived home safely.  Oh yeah – and the exchange for all was very successful.  Both sets of kids improved their language skills and had an exchange to remember!

Back home in France!


12 thoughts on “An Exchange to Remember!”

  1. Sharon Faulhaber says:

    How wonderful that both the exchanges went so well. It certainly will be a forever memory for all concerned. The experiences we give our kids help them to become amazing & productive adults. Kudos to you & your family.

    1. Katina says:

      Hi Sharon,

      We know these things are good for our kids – I just wish the adults can be part of the exchange too!


  2. Gail Lawlor says:

    Awesome is all I can say about all of these posts. thanks to all of you for sharing and showing all of us the things we can do locally with our future guests. You took full advantage of so many activities. Well done !!

    1. Katina says:

      Hi Gail,

      After this summer, I can tell you all the best tourist spots and how to get great discounts all over Ontario!!


  3. Ingrid Stevens says:

    hello Katina,
    I’ve been reading your girls blogs when they were in France. It always is such a pleasure to read about your adventures !
    I already told Mikhaila (I think it was Mikhaila..) about a full year exchange program as our daughter Dymphi did. I am sure it would be something for her too, as wel as for Zoe. I suppose you remember the turkish boy in our family when you were here ? They had their exchange program with AFS (American Field Service). I’m not sure if they also operate in Canada, but I also informed Mikhaila about other organisations. With AFS you follow the schoolprogramm, while living with a family, worldwide. Dymphi now speaks fluently spanish, which was only possible with this exchange. She even has a kind of Dominican accent 😉
    As far as I know this exchange would be possible between the age of 15 and 18. You would have to subscribe one year ahead, as there is a lot of preparation.
    Wish you all the best with all your daily things and with your adventures 🙂
    Friendly greetings,

    1. Katina says:

      Hi Ingrid,

      Thanks so much for the information – AFS does operate in Canada! It’s amazing to see the different programs that are offered throughout the world. That’s amazing for Dymphi and her Spanish….we know the only way to learn a language is to live it. I’m not sure if I’m ready for either girl to leave just yet, but I would be happy to host…I think it would be very exciting!

      I hope you and the family are keeping well!


  4. JEnny says:

    Hi Katina,
    It certainly was a wonderful experience for all of you! Beautiful memories! Love Mom

    1. Katina says:

      Hi Mom,
      Yes – great memories indeed!


  5. Juline says:

    MERCI pour tout!!!!!
    C’était trop bien

    1. Katina says:

      Coucou Juline – we are so glad that you were able to stay with us….always know you have a family in Canada!


  6. Zoé d'ANNECY says:

    mille merci pour cette magnifique expérience 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Katina says:

      Merci Zoe! It was a pleasure to have you stay with us!

      I hope you will never forget the poutine!

      We’ll send you some in the mail!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: