First Semester Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

                                      Answers to FAQs  pdficon_large



What are Colby in Dijon and Colby in Salamanca?

Colby in Dijon and Colby in Salamanca are programs designed to give you a language-intensive experience of cross-cultural study in either France or Spain. You will be part of a group made up of approximately 20 first-year Colby students and several juniors studying abroad in Salamanca or Dijon.
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What are the approximate dates of the programs?

These dates are tentative until final group-travel arrangements are made.  

  • Colby in Salamanca students are scheduled to depart for Salamanca August 29 and leave Salamanca December 14.
  • Colby in Dijon students are scheduled to depart for Dijon August 28 and leave Dijon December 16.

You will receive detailed schedules at a later date.


I don’t really feel confident in my language skills. What should I do?
The Salamanca and Dijon programs are designed to accommodate students at various levels of language competence—even students who have very limited language skills. Your commitment to learn is vastly more important than the level of your language skill before you leave.

If you have taken two years of high school French or Spanish, the Dijon and Salamanca programs are perfectly appropriate. If you’ve taken more-advanced courses like AP French or Spanish, you will also find the Dijon and Salamanca programs challenging, as you will be placed in advanced courses based on your language skills.


Can I choose the courses I will be taking abroad?

In general, the first-year programs abroad have a fixed curriculum, which means that your course options are more limited than they will be on the Waterville campus. Based on the language placement test upon arrival, you will be placed in the section appropriate to your language level.

In Salamanca your courses will include

  • Intensive Spanish (at your level)
  • A choice of Spanish literature, Spanish art history, Spanish culture, Spanish and Latin American cinema, or the Arab world in the Hispanic world (at your level)
  • Seminar on contemporary Spain

In Dijon your courses will include

  • French language (at your level)
  • French history
  • Portrait of a City: Dijon (art history)
  • Contemporary France seminar (offered in English and French)

Who, besides other Colby first-year students, will be in my courses?
You will attend language courses with students from around the world who are also interested in learning French or Spanish. Colby also runs junior-level programs in these locations, and some of the juniors may be in your courses. The first-year seminar in Salamanca will be for Colby first-year students only. In Dijon, the history, art history, and contemporary France courses are offered to Colby students only, both first-years and juniors.


What Colby graduation requirements will I satisfy with my program abroad?

Colby in Dijon: If you successfully complete the intermediate language course, you will satisfy Colby’s language requirement. You will also satisfy the arts, historical studies, social science, and international diversity requirements.

Colby in Salamanca: If you successfully complete the intermediate language course, you will satisfy Colby’s language requirement. You will also satisfy the social science requirement, and depending on which courses you take, you may also satisfy the literature, historical studies, or arts requirements. 

You will begin on campus in January with a number of requirements already fulfilled, and you have three and a half years to satisfy the others.


Will the courses count in my Colby grade point average?
Yes, your grades in the courses taken on these programs will count towards your Colby grade point average and will appear on your Colby transcript.


Can I study abroad again as a junior?
Yes, you can study abroad again as a junior. These FSA programs, in some cases, may not satisfy the study-abroad requirement for majors that require it.


Can I change my program?
The admissions committee placed you in a program according to your academic background and interests. Occasionally it is possible to change programs, but to be fair to all students, we have to wait until after May 1 to make any changes. We are committed to small classes and close collaboration with resident directors, so we do not want either program to become too large. If you are interested in changing programs, please send us an essay by May 1 ( explaining why the program you would prefer is more academically appropriate for you. Since we cannot guarantee any program changes before May 1, you will need to make your decision to attend next fall based on the program to which you were originally admitted.


What is the tuition and what is included?
Fees for the program are equivalent to the Colby comprehensive fee for one semester. All program courses and activities, round-trip travel between the U.S. gateway city and Salamanca or Dijon, food and lodging, health insurance, and all group excursions are included. Personal travel and expenses are not included.


Will I be required to come to Colby before I leave for my program abroad?
No, you will not be required. A Colby staff member will be at the airport and will accompany the group on the flight overseas, and the resident director of your program will meet you upon arrival in France or Spain.


How will I get from home to my program and back?
Transportation is provided and arranged by Colby from a gateway airport (usually Boston, LaGuardia, or Newark) for both Salamanca and Dijon depending on flight availability. You will be responsible for your own transportation to that airport. Upon arrival in France or Spain, ground transportation is provided to the program sites by coach. You will receive more details from the Off-Campus Study Office (OCS) during the summer months.


What travel documents will I need to have?
A passport and student visa are required. Your passport MUST be valid for at least six months after your return date. We urge you to apply for a passport ASAP if you do not already have one. The processing time for new passports could take awhile so apply online today:

You will receive more information about the visa application process from OCS. Please be aware that visa regulations can be complicated and applications can take a long time. You will be encouraged to begin the process as soon as you receive the information from OCS. Please note: You cannot apply for a visa without a passport and documentation from Colby. 


What about fall vacation breaks?
Each program has breaks during which you may travel or your family may visit you. We will send you more-specific information on these dates during the summer, which should give you and your family adequate time to plan travel. Because Thanksgiving is not a holiday in France or Spain, you will not have time off and are asked not to plan any travel or visits at that time.


With whom will I be living?
In order to facilitate language learning, there is one student per host family. The resident director matches students to host families using a housing preferences form that will be sent to you in May. We hope to be able to provide you with the name and address of your host family in early August.


Should I bring my computer?
Computers are not required for either of the fall FSA programs, but you may find it useful to take a laptop if you own one or were planning to purchase one (most students do). If you decide to take a laptop, make sure it is compatible with European voltage (220V). Almost all laptops are compatible.


Will I have e-mail, internet, and cell phone access?
Access to e-mail and the Internet from your host family’s home may be limited, but most university buildings, Colby facilities, and many public places have wireless Internet access. This means you may have less time to write e-mail messages to friends and family than what you may be accustomed to. 

Cell phone usage is readily available everywhere in Europe, but you may not be able to use your U.S. cell phone. We generally recommend renting a cell phone upon arrival, and the resident director will work with you to make that happen as soon as possible. You will receive more information later this summer.


What about safety?
Living in large cities like Dijon and Salamanca requires greater attention to safety than living on Colby’s Waterville campus. Safety is of great concern to Colby. Your resident director will give you advice when you arrive on site, will review safety information and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will keep the OCS office informed of any potential risks. We make every possible effort to ensure that your homestay is located in a safe neighborhood and that you are properly prepared for the realities of living in a large city. We urge you to discuss any concerns with your resident director. Please consult the OCS webpage for more information on safety concerns for all students abroad.

The bombings in Madrid in 2004 remind us all that vigilance and awareness are especially critical in large urban centers and transportation hubs. You must keep in mind that terrorist activity is unpredictable and that guaranteeing the safety of anyone—local citizen or international visitor—is simply not possible. You and your family will, however, want to inform yourselves to the best of your ability before you go. For information on conditions in Spain and France, the U.S. government's most recent public announcements regarding safety abroad, and Colby's contingency plans in the event of any incident affecting its programs abroad, use the links from our webpage.


When do I find out about my room and roommate(s) for Jan Plan and spring semester at Colby?
In October you will complete an online housing preference form provided by the Office of Campus Life. This questionnaire will be used to match you with another first-year-student roommate. More information regarding housing at Colby can be found in your myColby Class of 2017 portal. If you have specific housing questions, please feel free to email the housing office.  


How will I register for Jan Plan and spring semester courses at Colby?
Selection of January courses will take place in mid-October, and selection of spring courses will take place in early November. The Registrar’s Office will provide information via e-mail about selecting courses online. You are encouraged to consult with your academic advisor at Colby and your resident director abroad when planning your course selection.


I am nervous about going so far away. What if I feel homesick?
This is absolutely normal and to be expected. Just as the transition to college is harder for some than others, adjusting to life in another country can be challenging. Homesickness when you are far away from friends and family and trying to speak a different language can be very real and difficult to deal with. For most students the first two weeks are typically the hardest, but it will get easier if you try to focus on adjusting to your new life, making new friends, and staying busy. Remember that you are not alone—reach out to someone in your group or the resident director. Of course you will keep in touch with friends and family at home, but calling too often may have negative effects on your experience abroad. Try to restrict calls home to once or twice a week, rather than every day (or multiple times a day). You can catch up on news via e-mail.


How can I find out more about the cities of Dijon and Salamanca?
We recommend the following websites for general information on the cities:


Will I participate in orientation?
Yes, you will participate in COOT (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips), called Iced COOT in January, along with other FSAs, other incoming students, and other Colby students. Iced COOT trips take place during the second weekend of January. You’ll also take part in C2IT (Colby Community Involvement Trip), the civic engagement component of first-year orientation, during the third weekend of January. In November the Office of Campus Life will contact you about registering for Iced COOT. Read more information on COOT.


Should I come to Colby as soon as my program is over, in mid-December?
No, you should not plan to come to Colby in December. You will be required to come to Colby Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014—the day before the beginning of Jan Plan. You’ll participate in an orientation program for all FSA students and then begin your Jan Plan course the next day.


What connection will I have to students on campus?
You will be introduced to LINK, a student group that connects FSA students to the Colby community. LINK leaders and members help FSA students transition to life at Colby through extensive communication and various activities. This process begins as soon as you choose to enroll at Colby and continues through the spring of the following year. LINK students lived where you are about to live and studied in the same classrooms—and they’ll be available to answer your questions before departure, while abroad, and when you arrive in Maine. 


Who else can I speak to about the FSA experience and the transition to campus life? 

Please feel free to contact any of the students listed below to discuss questions or concerns you may have.

Student Assistants in the Off-Campus Study office. Call 207-859-4500 or email

Lindley Wells ’13 (Salamanca ’09)
Amy Tortorello ’13 (Salamanca ’09)
Kevin Galvin ’14 (Salamanca ’10)
Molly Nash ’15 (Salamanca ’11)
Cam Copeland ’16 (Dijon ’12)

Class of 2016 FSA students

Cam Copeland
Oliver Shawn  
Sarah Higgins 
Kate Alden      
Casey Romeo  
Hutch Hurwitz  
Clint Ross       

Peter Wirth      
Molly Feldstein
Lindsay Gallo             lkgallo@colby.eduy
Hannah Macquarrie
Grace DiBari    
Caroline Burlingham
Andrew Elmore 
Buck Auchincloss
Emily Sapoch     
Samantha Sturchio


What will a typical day be like?

Salamanca Dijon
  • 8 a.m.—Wake up, eat breakfast with family, walk to school
  • 9 a.m.—Spanish grammar class
  • 11 a.m.—Conversation class
  • Noon—Break. Go to Colby Center and hang out with friends
  • 1 p.m.—Elective class
  • 2 p.m.—Walk home for lunch with family
  • 3 p.m.—Siesta time
  • 5:30 p.m.—Free time. Take a cooking class, salsa class, or cultural experience through Colby. Or spend time with friends exploring the city, shopping, eating tapas, going to the gym, or doing homework.
  • 9 p.m.—Dinner with family
  • 10 p.m.—Go to a concert in the plaza with friends or spend time with your host family.
Weekends—Go on excursions or attend weekend meals with the extended family. You may also spend time with your host family or meet friends in town—there are many restaurants and movie theaters in Salamanca.
  • 7:30 a.m.—Wake up, have breakfast with or without family depending on schedule, get ready for school Morning—French language classes
  • Noon—Lunch at the university café or in town with friends
  • Afternoon—Attend classes (history, art history, French language, seminar on contemporary France) on Monday and Wednesday, and either Tuesday or Thursday. If no classes are scheduled, spend time shopping, relaxing in a café, and doing homework.
  • 6 p.m.—Walk home or go to the gym
  • 8 p.m.—Eat dinner with family


—Sleep in, go to the gym, go on excursions, or attend a big meal with your host family. You may also hang out with your host family or meet friends in town—there are many good restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, opera, etc. in Dijon.