After being accepted and deciding that you will go on the program, you have to tell the Office of Off-Campus Study that you are going go to go. It is not simply a box that you check off on a form, but instead you have to sign a contract. In addition to maintaining a minimum GPA, taking the right amount of classes etc. You also have to commit to get to know everyone else going on the program by attending all of the pre-departure meetings.
The first part happens the week after you are informed, that starts with a lunch meeting at Collins (In one of those private back rooms people don't usually use). Kristen Mallory and Professor Pitney start to give some basic information about Washington and helps get conversation going amongst all the participants. Professor Pitney even gives out a little Washington DC/Current events quiz. After you finish your Collins you walk over to Bauer Center. There you go over many topics, with both Professor Pitney as well as program alumni. They tell you the good places to live, help explain the DC public transit system as well as how to find good internships. Fid Castro even came and helped explain the process of finding housing and played some ice breaker games (You know, the one's you do during Freshman orientation, that you thought you'd never have to do again) so that everybody can get to know each other.
As the semester goes on, there are two more events, a dinner at the Ath and a final lunch at Collins. One of the ways that this gets you ready for DC is that there are no reminders sent out about the events, this is to help you keep to a schedule that you will have to face in DC, where they will not constantly remind you of upcoming events, similar to a semester in Washington.