Minsk is not exactly a tourist haven at this point, and you can go entire days without hearing a single word of English (or any other western European language, for that matter). However, locals are open and friendly, and are almost always willing to help with directions. It's worth learning a few words of Russian, the main language in Minsk, before you arrive as familiar Latin letters, let alone the English language, are few and far between. This is especially important when finding your way around the city - you might find your map has streets described in Latin letters, and then be faced with street signs exclusively in Cyrillic. It can be helpful to carry a Cyrillic alphabet around in your pocket a as a guide.
One of the most striking aspects about Minsk is its cleanliness and safety. You'll rarely feel threatened by any shady characters, particularly in the city centre, and you will most likely never see a single piece of litter or graffiti throughout your stay. Streets are spotless and green spaces are immaculately cared for by city workers. The citizens are so law abiding you will quickly learn that jay-walking on even a small, empty street is frowned upon. Do like the locals and behave in a way that would make your gran proud.
Make sure to carry your passport and visa documents with you while exploring Minsk, as well the health insurance details that you were required to purchase for your stay. If your stay exceeds 5 working days you'll have to register your visit at the local Regional Department of Internal Affairs. It's also a good idea to keep the address and phone number of your country's embassy at hand for emergencies. In general, acquiring a visa for Belarus is not a piece of cake so make sure to read up in our Visa section for further details on general visa procedures.
Finally, public toilets are popular so if you find yourself needing one pronto, they'll do in a pinch (but don't expect any toilet paper). Most toilets are marked with familiar male/female symbols, though you may occasionally be forced to navigate a bathroom marked with the cryptic-looking symbol Ж - which simply denotes a Ladies toilet (the alternative being M for Men's).
Above: On the road
Below: Cooling off