How to get here. The easiest way to get to Caen from abroad is to fly to Paris, and take a train. From the airport, a RER train will take you from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris city centre. You buy a ticket with your credit card in a green distributor (see picture here: http://www.transilien.com/static/ta...). It should cost about 10 euros and take 40 minutes to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare du Nord station. At Gare du Nord, you take RER E in the direction of Gare Saint-Lazare. You can use the same ticket to get there and it takes about 5 minutes. Gare Saint-Lazare is where you take the train to Caen (they depart from the far right platforms, and their final destination is either Caen or Cherbourg ; for schedules, see http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/). You buy a ticket with your debit/credit card in a yellow machine that looks a lot like the one you bought your RER ticket from (see picture at http://www.cartes-bancaires.com/cbm...). A return ticket should cost about 70 euros return, and the journey lasts about 2 hours. Don’t forget to put your ticket through a low yellow punching machines before you get on the train (see http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F... ; this operation is called "composter"), and it you haven’t, tell the train controller when they first go through the carriages; otherwise, you might be fined about 10 euros. You can also buy a ticket on the train, but they are more expensive by about 15 euros. Once in Caen, you take the tram in front of the train station (another ticket to buy with coins or cards in the by now familiar machines at the stop itself), which within 5 minutes will take you downtown where most hotels are (there are also taxis at the station, sometimes). The CRISCO is situated on the ground floor of building N (see plan on http://www.crisco.unicaen.fr/IMG/pd...) on Campus 1 of Université de Caen (tram stop is called “Caen – Université”).
Where to sleep. Caen has a variety of hotels, most of which are downtown (do avoid the station area, not dangerous per se, but a bit depressing). Most can be booked via your favourite touristic website; Booking.com allows you to book without having to pay immediately. The best hotel in town is probably the Best Western Le Dauphin; the Hôtel des Quatrans, the Ibis and the Kyriad are also very satisfactory options.
Where to eat. Not too far from the university, top of the range include the Café Mancel, Archidona, and the restaurant of Le Dauphin hotel. Excellent mid-range options comprise Le Bouchon du Vaugueux and El Olivo. In the cheap and cheerful category there are Buona Tavola, Passe-Temps, Nucléon, and the university canteen (known are RU) which is surprisingly good. These and more at http://www.tripadvisor.fr/Restauran...
What to see. Medieval Caen is built in the local stone that was used for so many English cathedrals. Place Saint-Sauveur, Abbaye aux Hommes, Abbaye aux Dames and William the Conqueror’s castle are close to the uni and well worth a visit. Further afield, there are the popular D-day beaches and various memorial sites (Taxi Abeille organises visits). Seaside towns are interesting in their own right: Houlegate, Honfleur and Deauville are less than 30 minutes away by car (no easy train connection), and Mont Saint-Michel is about 90 minutes away. For these and much more, see http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en.
Communication. Eduroam should afford you on-campus WiFi on a good day. If your mobile is unlocked (if it isn’t, check with your phone operator), you will be able to buy a SIM card in one of the many mobile phone shops in town (they will need an ID, preferably a passport). As an illustration, the Bouygues Telecom shop on rue de Bras will charge you 25 euros for a French SIM card, 2 hours of French calls and 1 hour of European calls.
Weather. A lot like England, only a tad warmer.
Language. Unlike many places in France, English is actually widely understood, but locals shy away from speaking it. Speak slowly and smile, and if that doesn’t work, don’t say the same thing louder in English, ask if someone else can help. Learning a few basic phrases will always get you somewhere.