In light of growing opportunities for prolonged intercultural communication – both inside and outside one’s home country – and prospects of study/work in different cultural environments, language programs are placing increased emphasis on competencies that prepare students for global citizenship. The ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (National Standards Collaborative Board (NSCB), 2015) stress the importance of integrating cultural knowledge into the curriculum with a focus not merely on accumulating a variety of culture-specific facts, but rather on the ability to communicate with cultural competence that is predicated upon understanding values and beliefs as a matrix for all cultural practices and products. Since study abroad is one of the most preferable approaches to students’ intercultural competence growth among post-secondary institutions (Poehner & Pasterick, 2021), it is important to equip students for their future ventures prior to departure. This chapter describes a preparatory course for a short-term study abroad immersion experience. The course includes the integration of open online resources to support the extracurricular pen pal project. The preparatory stage allows students to immerse themselves in the target culture and create interpersonal connections with peers before leaving home for a more engaging and productive experience once they arrive in Russian-speaking countries. The study is conducted in the Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) context and carries implications for the wider field of applied linguistics. It is of interest to world language students, instructors, and administrators responsible for study abroad programs in institutions of higher education.