How to Meet With Your Partner (Virtually or in-Person)

How to Meet With Your Partner

I’ve been paired with a partner, now what?

The first step is to contact your partner via your partner’s email address. This is provided to you in an automated email once you are paired. Email your partner to:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Decide on a means of communication (email, text messenger, video call application)
  • Talk about your schedule and what times and dates work best for you to meet
  • Schedule your first meetings

Your First Meeting – Icebreaker Activity

To find some “Icebreaker” activities, check out our Icebreaker and Conversation Topics page (under the "Resources" tab). These are activities that are designed to quickly make you comfortable with talking with your partner and to get to know some fun things about them right away.

We suggest that an icebreaker activity is the first thing you do when meeting your new partner, as it will help you feel comfortable together.

Choose a Conversation Topic!

To find some “Conversation Topics” check out our Icebreaker and Conversation Topics page (under the "Resources" tab). These conversation topics are themes that you can choose for your meetings. The purpose of the conversation topics is to prepare for your meetings ahead of time and make it easier to continue talking without long pauses – it will help you when you “don’t know what to say”.

How do we use the Conversation Topics?

Contact your partner before you meet and decide together which conversation topic you will focus on for your upcoming meeting. You can choose from one of the topics we have shared with you, or you can create your own.

For example:

  1. You and your partner talk through email or a text messenger and decide on a date and time for an upcoming meeting.
  2. Once the meeting date is set, decide together on a conversation topic that you like, such as: “Food Around the World”
  3. Once you know the conversation topic, you can individually prepare ahead of time for the meeting by researching the topic
    1. Google search for interesting ideas related to the topic and write down your thoughts
    2. Find vocabulary related to the topic in your target language (English/Spanish) and write them down
    3. Research your partner’s home country (Mexico, USA) related to the topic and come up with a list of your own questions if you have any.
    4. If you have something fun and appropriate to share with your partner, such as a souvenir from a trip, pictures, food you like to eat, consider having it prepared so you can show it and talk about it.
  4. Meet with your partner and have fun!

If you need more conversation topics to choose from, you can do a Google (or another search engine) search and lookup “conversation topics” – there are many resources online!

Remember: these exchanges are set up for both language and culture exchange. This is an opportunity to meet someone from another country and another culture. There are always cultural differences and these differences make us unique. Be respectful of each other’s viewpoints and histories and be sure to enjoy learning from each other!

Virtual Options for Meeting

How do we decide which software application to use?

This is a decision that is entirely up to you and your partner. If you need suggestions, please see the information we’ve provided below.

Zoom Accounts through the University of Minnesota

Zoom is the University of Minnesota's official video and teleconferencing application and is our recommendation for online meetings. It's easy to use and best of all, as long as one participant in a partnership has access to a Zoom account, the other participant(s) can join the meeting without needing an account. 

How to access Zoom

All students and staff at the University of Minnesota have access to a free Zoom account that they can use to host and attend virtual meetings. If you have not set up your Zoom account yet or have questions on how to use Zoom, check out the University of Minnesota’s Zoom resources below. 

Zoom: Join a Zoom Meeting as a Student or Participant

Zoom: Best Practices in a Meeting

Zoom: Teach, Meet, and Learn with Zoom Self-Help Guide

Zoom: Training and Help Center

Recommended Headsets and Webcams

Zoom: Zoom for Google Calendar Add-on


More Virtual Meeting Applications

While Zoom has a free version available to everyone, If neither you nor your partner(s) are UMN students, together you may opt to use one of many other methods that are available to you.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a unified communications service that enables text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group. Hangouts is built into Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice, plus there are Hangouts apps for iOS, Android, and the web. This application is our second recommendation for virtual video calls between TandemPlus partners.


Skype is one of the longest-running video calling applications and you have probably heard of it before. It’s still a great option for video calls between participants, although it is not our most recommended as the functionality of Zoom and Google Hangouts is more intuitive and account access to those platforms is easier.


WeChat, owned by the Chinese Tech-Giant Tencent, is a free, all-in-one, mobile communications application that has more than a billion active users each month. You can use this application to text, post social media posts similar to Facebook and Instagram, and even video calls. It’s an excellent application and we recommend it to TandemPlus participants.


KakaoTalk, similar to WeChat, KakaoTalk (sometimes called KaTalk) is another excellent, free, mobile communications application and it sports some 39 million active users per month. It is also available in 15 languages.


WhatsApp is another easy to use text and voice messaging application that is popular worldwide. It also supports free international calling.


Viber is a Japanese voice over-IP mobile messaging application, and we’ve heard good things! Check it out.