Exchange Student

10 Great Gifts for International Students

Coming to America from a foreign country can be difficult, and finding gifts for international students that make them feel welcomed can be an overwhelming challenge for their hosts. After all, everything is new and confusing for these students, and life can be a bit overwhelming—especially around holiday seasons.

Friends and coworkers often try to extend their help and companionship but may feel at a loss as to what gifts to get for exchange students and how to best integrate them into this new culture. For example, how does one know what to get a foreign exchange student for Christmas? What are good gifts for exchange students during holidays both new and old? Are American gifts for foreign exchange students appropriate, or would they rather have something more familiar? Navigating cultural differences is a challenge for everyone. 

Of course, it is important to extend invitations to social gatherings and events, and it is always kind to offer assistance when needed. However, in order to truly show you care, offering a gift for a foreign exchange student is a unique and personal way to extend your companionship and introduce them to new aspects of our culture. Seriously, you can give them a whole cultural lesson if you play your cards right and find the perfect American gifts for foreign exchange students.

Whether you’re shopping for something little and personalized or bigger and more extravagant, you’re sure to find the perfect gifts for exchange students below! 

10 gift ideas for foreign exchange students

1. Kindle Paperwhite

kindle paperwhite

If you want to truly go all-out, the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best gifts for international students and is a fantastic way to spoil any traveler. International commutes are long, and jet-lag can often make sleeping difficult. Help students pass the time with the extremely lightweight Kindle Paperwhite. Containing an extremely long-lasting battery life and being waterproof, this device is the ideal travel companion for any exchange student. Help them remember home with texts in their language and practice their English or discover new passions with American books, podcasts, and more. If you’re wondering what to get a foreign exchange student for Christmas, look no further! 

2. Action Camera

action camera

If you’re looking to be a little extravagant with your gifting without going overboard, this action camera rules. Pair it with the travel journal listed above, and help the foreign exchange student in your life document their travels digitally and create a sort of scrapbook to remember their time in America. This camera is designed for travel and water resistance, so it can be taken and trusted to deliver breathtaking photos anywhere throughout the U.S. 

Want to upgrade? Consider the GoPro Hero7!

3. Hot Dog Toaster

hotdog toaster cool gifts for exchange students

Silly, awesome, or… just plain awesome?

As far as American gifts for foreign exchange students go, what’s more American than hot dogs? However, they don’t make the most ideal gifts. Therefore, these hot dog toasters make the best gifts for international students. Use them as a funny and functional way to remind exchange students of all the quintessential American activities and foods they partook in and consumed during their travels.

These hot dog toasters also serve as the perfect gift ideas for Chinese exchange students (or others) to be introduced to the American white elephant tradition. Delight in their confusion and laughter as they unwrap this truly unique present and learn of this strange custom of gag-gifts. Coming in at a fairly affordable cost, this item is sure to bring a smile to the recipient’s face for years to come as they remember the fun memories behind it.

*Adds one to personal shopping cart*

4. Personalized Christmas Ornament

ornament for exchange students

Still wondering what to get a foreign exchange student for Christmas?

As previously stated, one of the biggest obstacles for friends and hosts during an exchange student’s stay is often knowing what to get a foreign exchange student for Christmas. However, there’s no need to spend hours searching for the perfect item, because these personalized Christmas ornaments is one of our favorite gift ideas for foreign exchange students, no matter where they’re from. Pick your favorite memory, their favorite place, or any other special moment.

Then, add dates, lettering, and more to create a truly heartfelt present that can be kept for years to come and will serve as a reminder of your friend’s special time in America and of you. 

5. A Nice Passport Wallet

passport wallet gifts for international students

More convenient than the typical passport holder, these passport wallets are cool gifts for exchange students as they make traveling a breeze as they allow for easy access to passports, credit cards, cash, and anything else students may need. Compact and affordable, these passport wallets also come in a variety of colors to fit any outfit, season, or personality. 

6. State Necklace

state necklaces gifts for exchange students

These necklaces are a perfect gift for international students to help them carry a piece of their temporary homes with them wherever they go. Making the perfect Christmas presents, these necklaces can easily be customized to include any state and are the perfect addition to any outfit. 

Tip: This is a really popular goodbye gift for an exchange student!

7. International Power Adapter

travel plug adapter

In today’s world, everyone is always plugged in, and ALWAYS looking for a charger it seems. However, when traveling across countries, not all outlets are created equal, and students may find themselves needing to buy entirely new electronics when the correct cords cannot be found or used. Save them the trouble with this affordable international power adapter.

These ideal gifts for international students can be used wherever they go. That way they can save money and hassle and stay in better touch with loved ones through familiar devices. 

8. Travel Journal 

travel journal from wandrd

These travel journals are one of our go-to gift ideas for foreign exchange students, as journals are every bit as sentimental as they are useful. Add on a pack of colorful pens, and let the foreign exchange students in your life document their journey, wherever it takes them.

9. Long Distance Touch Bracelet Set

bond touch bracelets for international students

Traveling any amount of distance can be daunting. It’s easy to get swept up in the magnitude of the world, and constantly moving from place to place can feel lonely. Let the foreign exchange students in your life know they are always in  your heart with this long distance touch bracelet set. Coming in at a very affordable price, these easily answer the question of what to get a foreign exchange student for Christmas, particularly those leaving after the first semester of classes is finished. Simply touch your bracelet to let them know they’re on your mind and never alone or forgotten. 

10. Face Masks

face masks for exchange students

It’s no secret that traveling can take a toll on one’s skin, and international flights are no joke. Whether the foreign exchange student is traveling right away or staying in town, these masks are a fun way they can treat themselves to a pamper night to unwind and destress after a long day of learning a new culture or traveling back home. 

Buy meaningful gifts for international students

Whether you want to help the foreign exchange student in your life feel closer to home, better immerse them in American culture, or simply show them you care, all of the items on this list make amazing gifts for international students and come in at a variety of price points to meet your needs.

Feel free to mix and match items to create the perfect gift for in your life. However, no matter what you choose, it really is the thought that counts, and these cool gifts for exchange students are sure to touch the student in your life. Whether you choose something sentimental, useful, or a combination of the two these gifts for international students are a gesture that will remind students of their precious time in the United States and the lifelong friends they made along the way.

Authored by Shyanne Reynolds

Shyanne Reynolds works as a Virtual Assistant and does copywriting on the side. She graduated from Indiana University in May of 2019 with an English degree. Her skill set includes Tailwind, Convertkit, Canva, Excel, Microsoft, Squarespace, WordPress, and more!

Keep up with Shyanne on LinkedIn.