Tips to Prepare You for Your Host Culture/Destination

You’ve picked a program, filled out the necessary paperwork, and sat through Pre-Departure Orientation. But you still don’t feel ready! That’s okay—there will be a lot of new things to learn once you’re at your off-campus destination. Before you go, though, there’s tons you can do to prepare yourself and to help you get excited about your upcoming experience. Below are 7 ways you can prepare for what’s up ahead.

Utilize the library’s resources

The Lafayette College Library website provides tons of resources for getting to know your target location and culture before you arrive at your destination. Visit the library website to start exploring.

Utilize the U.S. Department of State website

The U.S. Department of State provides country-specific information that may be especially relevant to U.S. citizens. You can learn about safety and health information, in-country transportation options, and the laws and regulations of your destination on the State Department’s website.

Learn what’s up with culture

No matter where you’re going, it’s important to be culturally prepared. The What’s Up With Culture website tells you what culture is, why it’s different around the world, and how you can prepare yourself to be open to the differences and challenges you’ll face in your new host culture.

Study the language before you arrive

If you’re going to a non-English-speaking country, you’ll probably take courses in the host country’s language once you arrive at your destination. But it doesn’t hurt to start learning some words beforehand. In fact, it can help you to adapt faster, connect with locals, and succeed in your classes.

The best way to learn a new language before you go abroad is with formal instruction on Lafayette’s campus. Lafayette offers a variety of language options in our Languages and Literary Studies department. Visit the LLS website to learn about the language courses offered at Lafayette.

If you don’t have time in your schedule for another language class or your target language isn’t offered on-campus, you can also utilize Lafayette’s Language Library or other free online resources to help you begin learning the language. Below we provide 3 free options for you, but feel free to explore the internet for more resources:

Read local newspapers

Reading the local news from your destination in either English or in the target language lets you know what’s going on in your target location, and what’s important to the people there, and helps you be prepared to discuss events and politics with the locals.

Read fiction and non-fiction books

In addition to the local news, fiction and non-fiction reading about your target location and by writers from your target location lets you get to know the culture and country further.

Watch movies and television shows

Use movies/TV shows set in and about your host culture and country to get a better feel for the place. Just note that not all television is created equal. Look for high-quality movies and shows that help you begin to understand the intricacies of your host culture and that don’t generalize or make fun of your host culture.