If you have a love of travelling, be it for work, vacation, or learning, I have a great thing to share with you. The first contact with a culture is the language. Speaking and understanding naturally lead you to a greater experience abroad.
I had studied languages in school. But I've found that classes only give you a small basis on which to build. You have to push yourself to use the language in order to eventually master it. And that means to go abroad, or to talk to a native speaker. But how can you prepare yourself beforehand?
There are plenty of language-learning methods out there. CDs, DVDs, websites, books, etc. But years ago, I've found one that REALLY helped me dig up my high-school Spanish and take it to the next level. It's Michel Thomas.
I would like to specify that I'm not trying to sell anything, and that I'm not getting anything from them to talk about the method. But listening to Mr. Thomas' soothing voice while he made me remember my verbs without taking any notes is the greatest language preparation I've ever had. Apart from picking it up at destination, obviously. :)
Has anybody tried the method? Do you have a favorite one?