Orientation provides an information and values-assessment phase, which prepares the students and the Academic Directors emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually for the intercultural experience. Students and the Academic Directors get to know one another in their respective roles. It is designed to clarify the program in some detail, introduce basic information and skills for the initial adjustment to the host culture, introduces logistic and health and safety issues and establishes learning criteria and expectations. The Academic Directors and students should finish the orientation phase in a climate of understanding and having made certain definite agreements.
The orientation phase is also a learning unit insofar as it responds to questions of a logistical, emotional, and descriptive nature. It introduces students to the participatory, field-based model of learning. At the end of this phase students should not only understand that this program of study abroad will involve personal and educational changes, and it will impact their academic careers and professional opportunities.
Of course, orientation is also the time when group members get to know one another and thus should include relaxed social moments.