Preparing for your study abroad can be one of the most fun parts of the study abroad process and is a great way to ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable experience. By learning about your host country, you can better equip yourself to communicate with locals, handle some of the cultural differences that might arise, and form realistic expectations about life abroad.
There is a wealth of information about nearly every country available online and in bookstores.
- Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, and Rick Steves' books provide comprehensive information for travelers, including the destination’s demographic, political and historical profile, hotel and restaurant reviews, and even suggested tour itineraries.
- The CIA World Factbook includes a variety of facts about the countries of the world, and serves as a fantastic information resource for a country’s history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues.
- For more up-to-date information, websites such as Wikitravel can be useful. However, note that these sites are edited by users and may include inaccurate and/or biased information from the contributors.
Things You Can Do to Learn About Your Host Country
- Practice your language skills, or commit to learning a few basic phrases
- Watch films or television shows produced in or about your host country
- Listen to music from popular singers from your host country
- Cook a recipe from your host country’s cuisine
- Visit a restaurant that serves cuisine from your host country
- Read literature written by writers from your host country
- Read travel guides
- Keep abreast of current events in your host country
- If you know where you will be living, use Google Earth to familiarize yourself with the area, as well as plot your route to your host school