There are study abroad programs in over 100 countries, so it is impossible to generally characterize the local students you might encounter. In some countries, the host country students you encounter will have gone through a more specialized system of education. As a result, they tend to be somewhat older and better prepared to meet the academic demands of their university education.
Most likely they will have begun studying their major subject earlier than their American counterparts, so expect them to have a much more extensive knowledge of the subject. They may seem more serious, tending to act with formality and reserve, even among their peers. It is conceivable that you might sit next to a local student in class for a year without ever striking up a conversation. On the other hand, in another location, local students may be surprisingly like the American students you are used to.
Students in your host country will be politically knowledgeable; work on improving your own knowledge of history and politics of the United States and of the host country before you go. We recommend reading The Economist, Washington Post, Asian Wall Street Journal, or The International Herald Tribune, all of which can be found in the Messinger Periodical Reading Room at Rush Rhees Library. Many newspapers and news magazines have Internet sites. You can access them at http://news.yahoo.com.
Class schedules on study abroad programs are often organized differently than those at UR. For instance, classes may meet only once each week for three hours at a time. In many cases, the class may involve fewer exams and quizzes than at the University of Rochester. At the same time, expect to do more independent learning.
Talk to peer advisers who studied in your host country. They will be able to give you more insight into student life.