Learn all you can about the country you will be visiting! What is its history? How is its economy doing? What is the political situation? What makes its culture unique? The sites below are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of information you can access to find out more about the country or region you will be studying.
The Background Notes from the State Department provide excellent information on the country's geography, history, economy, politics and security. Each of the background notes also has links to official country websites that can be very informative.
The CIA World Factbook provides "to the point" statistics on a wide variety of topics--from roads and cellphone usage to population and and geography.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has excellent country profiles that include information on history, economy, development, human rights, and more.
The Library of Congress also has excellent and in-depth country studies. These cover not only history, but also have information on such varied topics as the role of women, foreign relations, and religion.
The BBC also has Country Profiles that give a quick overview and facts on the country. Each profile also provides links to other resources (particularly media) for the country.
Those of you heading to Europe can check out the European Union's site on European Governments, which has links to various governmental websites that provide a variety of official information and statistics on their respective countries. You should also learn more about the European Union itself. The "At a glance" page on the official EU site is the best place to start. Some brief facts and a country map are also available for each member state. For more specific info on current events, the European National Newspaper site has links to most of the major papers published in Europe--although the majority are, of course, in the local language.