First Semester Abroad in Dijon

IntroductionDijon FSAs FA13

Colby in Dijon offers incoming first-year Colby students an in-depth, language-intensive experience of cross-cultural study in the heart of France. Through a structured, demanding program of classes and cultural interaction, Colby in Dijon seeks to provide students with an understanding of the differences between the American and French ways of life, and to enable students to better understand the complexities of French culture. The program is open to students with various levels of French, from two years in high school to advanced placement. Upper class Colby students are also part of the Dijon group.

Academic Program

All Colby in Dijon participants are registered at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, and have full use of the campus. They take French language courses at the Centre International d'Etudes Francaises (CIEF), a branch of the university that specializes in the teaching of French to foreigners. Students are placed at levels corresponding to their abilities, and attend classes on a daily basis along with students from other countries.
In general, the first-year programs abroad have a fixed curriculum, which means that your course options are more limited than they will be during January and the spring semester at Colby. Based on the language placement test upon arrival, you will be placed in the section appropriate to your language level. In addition to the language courses, all Colby in Dijon first-year students take other courses specifically arranged for them and taught by the resident director and French professors hired by Colby. Students normally take three of these courses, including a required course on French history and the architecture and art of Dijon (both of which include field trips) and a seminar on contemporary France.

On the Colby in Dijon program, your courses will include:

  • French language (at your level)  
  • French History 
  • Portrait of a City: Dijon (art history) 
  • Contemporary France Seminar with the Resident Director (offered in English and French)
You will, if you successfully complete the intermediate language course with a grade of C or better, satisfy Colby’s language requirement. Students who do not complete the intermediate level will normally be required to take a semester of French at Colby to satisfy the language requirement. You will also satisfy the arts requirement, the history requirement, and the social science requirement, as well as the international diversity requirement.

A wellness lecture, in French, will be held during the semester in Dijon. Although not obligatory for first-year students, it is strongly suggested, since attendance will reduce the number of wellness lectures required when students arrive on campus in January.

Taft_William_2013_FranceThe Homestay

The homestay, in which students are placed with selected families in and around Dijon, is as important an aspect of the program as the academic courses. The homestay is more than a place to sleep and eat; it is here that students will develop their spoken French and learn the most about France. It is a portal to French civilization and culture. It serves as a resource for class assignments in the first-year student seminar.

Students take their breakfasts and evening meals in their host families; on weekends, when there are no excursions, students are offered all of their meals in their host families. Students are given a stipend to enable them to purchase lunches during the week; they are also given money for a monthly bus pass and for taxis when the buses have stopped running at night.

Not all the host families are traditional. Some of them consist of young, professional women, with or without children. The resident director will try to place each student with the family that best seems to fit his or her profile in the housing form included with the registration packet, but there can be no guarantees of a perfect match. We can, however, assure students that only the families that are given excellent reviews by former Colby in Dijon participants are chosen as homestays.

Program Schedule (Program calendar)

There is time for personal travel, but students are expected to attend all their classes and may lose credit or have their grades lowered if they miss classes for travel. Parents who wish to visit their sons or daughters should not expect that students would be able to miss classes. More details on travel will be given students in the program handbook and on site by the resident director.

Social Life and Extra-curricular Activities

Animateurs: Each year Colby arranges to have a number of French college-age people, including university students, to work with the group in September. These animateurs et animatrices have specific responsibilities toward the group during the first two weeks of the program. Their role is to spend time showing students around Dijon and organizing some social events for the group. They are expected to communicate in French at every opportunity.

Cultural Events: All students receive a “carte culture” that gives them special discounts at cultural activities, which include: concerts (classical, jazz, rock), operas, theater and cinema. Colby in Dijon reimburses 50% of the cost of cultural events in French. Excursions: All the excursions have a pedagogical as well as recreational purpose, and professors occasionally accompany the group.

Excursions include:

  • A visit to the Burgundy countryside
  • A three-day excursion to the French Riviera.
  • A two-day excursion to northern Burgundy (including the pilgrimage town of Vézelay and the Cistercian abbey of Fontenay);
  • A four-day excursion to Paris, emphasizing the medieval and renaissance periods of the city, and with ample free time;
  • A three-day excursion to the châteaux of the Loire Valley;
  • A day excursion to the city of Beaune and its 15th century hospital;
  • A day excursion to the city of Lyon, with emphasis on its architecture
The cost of excursions is included in the program fee.

Fitness: There are a number of gyms in town that offer aerobic classes and weight training at reasonable rates. Colby will pay for half of each student's membership (up to a reasonable limit) in one of these private clubs for students who wish to join.

The Université de Bourgogne has no varsity sports as there are at Colby. In early October, students will be given a schedule of sports classes offered at the university; these can be taken at no additional cost.
Community Service: Students may volunteer to give a few hours each week to the Secours Populaire de France, a non-religious charity that helps poor people and women in difficult situations. Activities include helping distribute food and other items, and helping raise money for the organization.

Program Fee

The fees for Colby programs abroad are equivalent to the comprehensive fees for Colby College. The fee covers: tuition, room, board or a board allowance, excursions, and roundtrip airfare and transfers to program sites. Books, meals during vacation periods, insurance, laundry expenses, and personal travel are not included.

Health and Safety Abroad

Students are responsible for their own health insurance, and proof of health insurance must be submitted before students may leave for France. If a student needs health care while in Dijon, he or she must pay for services (credit cards are accepted) and submit the bill to his or her family's insurance company for reimbursement.

The resident director briefs students on the issue of safety, during the orientation period. Students are also responsible for each other. Dijon is considered a relatively safe city, but the standard precautions of living in an urban area are required.


Student Experience

View a scanned copy of the student-produced Colby in Dijon FSA Student Guidebook which is sent to incoming FSA students prior to departure.