Colby in Dijon

Junior Pre-Departure Handbook

Fall 2007

Table of Contents


This handbook was developed by the Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) at Colby College in order to give you advance information about the Colby in Dijon program which you will be joining in the fall. It addresses administrative issues as well as daily life in France. It also contains rules and regulations that apply to this program, and of which you and your parents should be aware.

Please keep in mind that there is a great deal of information that we cannot give you in advance; indeed, there is much you will take pleasure in learning once you are in France. We hope that this handbook serves to orient you, ease some of your initial anxieties, and prepare you to commence your Dijon experience with confidence.

Travel Information

Your departure is scheduled for Thursday, August 23 at 11:20PM. Prior to departure, you will be met at Boston's Logan International by a representative of Colby's off Campus Study office, who will accompany you on the flight. You should plan to be at the airport at least three hours before departure (8:20PM). Keep in mind airline security procedures and review the information for Boston's Logan and the Transportation Security Adminstration.

Make note of regular luggage restrictions (normally two checked items and one carry-on) and the fact that you will have to carry your luggage yourself during some points of the journey. Also keep in mind that, although you will likely accumulate new items in France, the same luggage restrictions will be in place for your return trip. Additionally, storage space in European homes and apartments is significantly less than in most US homes.

Make sure you keep your passport on your person while you travel and not packed away in your suitcase. Your passport will be required at check-in and several more times as you pass through airport security in Boston. Upon arrival in Paris and after proceeding through immigration, the group will transfer to Dijon by coach.

The Resident Director

The resident director of the Colby in Dijon program for 2007 is Jonathan Weiss, NEH Class of 1940 Distinguished Teaching Professor of Humanities. Professor Weiss has been in the French department at Colby College since 1972, and has directed Colby's former year-long program in Caen, France, as well as the Dijon program on numerous occasions. From 1991 to 2000, Professor Weiss was associate dean of faculty and director of off-campus study. He is a published scholar, and his book, a biography of the best-selling French author Irène Némirovsky, was published in Paris in March 2005.

Jon has directed the Dijon program since 2003 (with the exception of 2004). His responsibility in Dijon will be both academic and administrative. He will teach a course on Contemporary France (FR233), will organize and direct all group excursions and activities, and will be responsible for the welfare and discipline of the group. He has the ultimate authority in matters of discipline, academic policy, and disbursement of Colby funds. Grades are submitted by French faculty members, and then evaluated by Professor Weiss before they are sent to Colby. In particular, Professor Weiss has the authority to lower grades if a student has missed classes without reason, or even (in extreme cases) to give no credit for a course. If a student’s conduct puts the group at risk, or is inconsistent with Colby’s standards for behavior, Professor Weiss has the right, after issuing a warning, to dismiss the student from the program with no refund or credit

Professor Weiss is also on hand throughout the semester to advise students and provide help. He will call group meetings from time to time, and will have set periods of time ("office hours") for students to consult with him. Please also respect his privacy and, outside the regular weekday, daytime hours, call only for a question or situation that cannot wait. Some classes and events will be held in the director's apartment.

The Colby director's apartment is located at:

8, Place Bossuet (a block from the rue de la Liberté)
21000 Dijon, France
Tel: 011-33-380-50 17 18
Fax: 011-33-380-50 17 19
Cell: 011-33-663-35-51-82

Tentative Academic Calendar (Subject to change)

August 23

Departure from Boston's Logan International Airport

August 24

Arrival in Paris; chartered coach to Dijon

August 25

Orientation in Dijon

August 26

Students move in with host families

August 27

Placement exam for language courses

August 28

Courses begin

September 2

Outdoor excursion (hike), weather permitting

September 8-9

Excursion to Alps 

September 21

Exams for September language course

September 23-26

Excursion to Paris

September 27-29

Excursion to Loire Valley

October 6-7

Excursion to Vézelay, Fontenay and Northern Burgundy

October 20

Day trip to Lyon

October 29- Nov 2

Fall break (no classes)

November 10

Day trip to Beaune

November 22

Gala Thanksgiving Dinner with Host Families

December 1-2

Excursion to Jura Mountains

December 4-8

Final Exams

December 8

Final Reception for Students at Colby apartment

December 9

Return to Boston


You will be spending a significant portion of your week in class when you are in Dijon; more, in fact, than if you were on the Colby campus. You will take a placement test upon arrival in France, and depending on the results, you should anticipate 14-20 hours per week of language classes. The language classes themselves are usually broken up into blocks of grammar, composition, oral comprehension and written comprehension, although this varies somewhat according to the level you are placed into. This is true for both the September language orientation period, and the October -December semester. In addition to language classes, your course load will be rounded out with options chosen by you in consultation with the director and according to your academic goals and interests. 

Except for Professor Weiss’ class (if you take it), you will be taking classes from French nationals, some—but not all—of whom already have experience with American students. Your language classes will be offered at the Université de Bourgogne, one of France’s leading universities, located just outside the center of Dijon. These are courses designed specifically for non-native French-speaking students. Classes may include some other American students, but are likely to consist mainly of students from other European countries as well as from Japan and China. The section of the university that offers this French language curriculum is called the Centre International d’Études Françaises, or CIEF. The CIEF operates on its own schedule, distinct from that of the rest of the university. 

You may also be taking regular university courses, which begin at various times, from late September to mid-October. These courses may include tutorials with the course professor and you will be required to do a written paper or exam before the end of the program, in early December. In some cases, this will mean missing a week or two of the course (which continues on until the end of the month); this should not pose a problem, however.

Your classes will have a very European flavor to them. Teachers tend to lecture rather than conduct a discussion-type class. Particularly in non-language classes, do not be surprised if the whole class period is taken up with the teacher’s interpretation of the material. On the other hand, some teachers may ask for student opinion during class. In general, student questions are dealt with at the end of the class, rather than during the lecture. French teachers generally expect students to be physically alert in class. Even so, they will evaluate them less on class participation than on the quality of the homework and on exams. Expectations here also differ from those in the United States, especially as concerns the form and neatness of the work you do. Students can do their work on a laptop computer, but this is not necessary. It is perfectly acceptable to do assignments on European-size paper, lined or unlined, in ink (French teachers almost never accept work done in pencil), and paying special attention to neatness. Work scribbled on a sheet of paper torn from a notebook will usually be handed back ungraded or with a failing grade. 

Speaking French

The Colby in Dijon program is a language immersion program and you will be expected to speak French most of the time. Your goal for the semester should be to make as much progress in French as possible, and much of your learning will take place outside of the classroom. This progress will not occur unless you make a pledge to yourself to speak French whenever possible. Remember that every minute you speak English is a minute lost for your French. The more you commit to speaking French, even with your Colby classmates, the more satisfaction you will gain from your experience. It is by your efforts to speak French that you will show your host family, and all the people you come in contact with, that you are interested in learning all you can about life in France and that you take yourself and your studies seriously.

A French-only rule will be applied in the following instances:


Two types of excursions have been planned for the Dijon group: recreational/cultural excursions (for example, the Alps) and excursions related to program courses (Burgundy, the Loire Valley). As a junior, you are welcome and encouraged to attend all excursions. During the course-related excursions, assignments will be given out that are due in class; if you are not taking the class but are participating on the excursion, consult with Professor Weiss as to what your obligations might be. Excursions are normally considered a required part of the program. If a student is, for exceptional reasons, excused from an excursion, no refund will be issued.

No alcoholic beverages will be permitted in buses during excursions. Students are expected to behave with decorum during excursions and to be respectful in both hotels and restaurants.

Your Homestay: What to Expect and What is Expected

The principal purpose of the Dijon homestay is to provide you with a physical home and a social and cultural window into French life. Your homestay family has been chosen with care, but even so, there is no guarantee that your personalities will match. No two families are alike; habits and traditions differ considerably from one family to another. Some families may invite their host students to family events or outings; others will not. Some families may allow students to use the kitchen and serve themselves from the refrigerator; others will be more private and protective of their space. Enjoy observing different traditions and patterns of interaction. The most important quality you yourself can have is adaptability. Be as flexible and as positive as possible. 

You should expect to be comfortable in your host family.  Even in the most ideal placement, adjustments are necessary and misunderstandings will likely occur. If you believe a misunderstanding has occurred or that someone's feelings have been hurt, use this as an opportunity to ask and clear the air, rather than making assumptions based on what you think happened. If you are uncomfortable discussing any particular issue, consult with the resident director for suggestions and support.

Colby expects each family to provide you with:

In turn, you are expected to:

It is not permitted to have overnight guests in your family's home without the advance, express permission of your host family. Some French families are very private, and do not be surprised if there is some reluctance for you to have your friends stay over. Ask in advance and be flexible. Host families will not allow visitors of the opposite sex to stay overnight in your room. Please observe this rule.

The most important things to keep in mind during your homestay are to be considerate, perceptive and flexible. You will not have a curfew, but you should inform your host family of your approximate return time in the evening. Tell your family what your plans are, particularly if it involves missing a meal. A phone call is worth a great deal in goodwill. The family is not meant to act as a form of police, but they will need to plan around you. The more informed they are of your plans and intentions, the more harmonious the experience will be for all of you.

Colby will make every effort to notify you of your placement prior to your departure from the US. However, while confirmation will be obtained before sharing this information with you, last minute changes sometimes occur and details about your final homestay placement may not be available until your arrival in Dijon.

Safety in Dijon and Elsewhere

Safety and security have always been of utmost priority for Colby programs abroad, and these concerns have been intensified by recent changes in real and perceived threats to US citizens, both at home and abroad. Events since September 2001 have affected many aspects of all overseas programs. Throughout the duration of their study program, students must remain attentive to advice and precautions issued by Colby College, by the resident director, and by US government entities at home and abroad. Additionally, the Office of Off-Campus Study must have telephone (and where possible, email) contact information for parents or guardians of all students participating in Colby-run programs. While the probability is low that a terrorist incident will occur in Dijon, communication access among Colby College, program participants, and their families facilitates correspondence, information sharing, and reassurance during any event of global impact.

Dijon itself has always been considered a relatively safe city, but there are some basic precautions that students should always take. You will be given an extensive briefing on safety and security when you arrive in Dijon, but even before you leave you should be aware of the following reasonable precautions for traveling in Europe: 

Be aware, particularly when travelling outside of Dijon, that pickpockets and thieves often operate in crowds, especially those near spots frequented by tourists (including fast-food restaurants). Often, they work in pairs so that one will create a diversion, allowing the other to take advantage of people's lack of attention to their belongings. Many times they act so quickly that victims do not realize they have been robbed until well after the event.

Always inform the resident director of any incidents that may arise. Rumors spread quickly and misinformed students may exaggerate or underestimate an incident. Inform the resident director first, before you call your parents or talk to your friends, so that appropriate immediate action can be taken.

Note: The US State Department has advised Americans travelling anywhere to remain inconspicuous for their own safety, and we strongly support this advice. You are advised to keep a "low profile" while in Dijon and wherever else you may travel. Pay attention to culturally appropriate dress and behavior. Keep your voice down and avoid congregating in large, noisy groups, and avoid US entities considered symbols of US capitalism, such as McDonald's and US chain stores. Use restraint in situations that could get out of hand; your personal safety is far more important than your "honor" or your need to express yourself. Any US State Department travel advisories issued will be immediately forwarded to students by the resident director.

Cultural and Social Life

Colby in Dijon encourages you to be engaged in the cultural life of Dijon. If you go to a French movie, attend a play, or go to a concert (classical, folk, jazz, etc.), keep your ticket and present it to the resident director; you will be given a 50% refund of the cost. In addition to cultural activities you choose to attend, there will be group cultural events arranged by the resident director. There is, of course, no cost to you for these events.

You will discover your own social life depending on your personal tastes. Opportunities exist in Dijon for almost every type of social activity, from quiet caf&eacutes for conversation to noisy discoth&egraveques for dancing. Remember, however, that you have an obligation to your studies. If you don't restrict your nightlife to the weekend, you will find that you are behind in your work and that your budget is seriously depleted! Remember that for early morning excursion departures, you will be expected to arrive at the departure point on-time.

Cultural Notes: Politeness (La Politesse)

French people are warm and welcoming, yet they are not always perceived as such by Americans. The issue may be one of customs. The French greatly value their concept of politeness ("la politesse"). A visitor who does not respect some basic rules may, unwittingly, offend French people. You may well find that your experience in France is much more positive and enjoyable if you observe some simple rules of French politeness, such as greetings and dining etiquette. These rules may differ considerably from what you are used to in the US, but by respecting them, you will create the goodwill that will make you a welcomed guest. In the end, it is your cross-cultural sensitivity that will enable you to function smoothly in France. By the time you leave, you will take these and other cultural details for granted. A detailed review of "la politesse" will be included in your on-site orientation.

Gender Issues

You will soon discover that gender relationships are different in Europe than in the US. This is true in France as well. Certain social behaviors help define the relationship between men and women in France. For example, the bise (kiss on the cheeks) is the accepted way for French women to greet men they know; to refuse to give a man a bise would be considered odd, or perhaps rude. While traditionally, when meeting a man for the first time, a woman would extend her hand for a handshake, currently, young people tend to greet one another with a bise. Additionally, French men tend to express more openly their appreciation of a woman's appearance, which is not generally considered rude by European women. Some of these behaviors may be troublesome for some women, who may interpret stares from men as aggressive or threatening. A detailed discussion of gender issues and cultural behaviors will be included in your on-site orientation. Feel free to approach your resident director if you want to discuss your impressions of how men and women interact in France. Try to keep in mind during your adjustment to your host community that you do not have to accept an attitude to be able to adapt to it in everyday life.

Note: Once in Dijon, if you believe that you are experiencing something more than cultural differences, such as harassment, be sure to speak immediately with the resident director. A detailed policy on harassment will be distributed and discussed upon arrival.

Alcohol and Drugs

Colby's policy is to respect the laws of the host countries of its programs. In France, it is legal to drink alcohol at the age of 18. It is not legal to use drugs, including marijuana, at any age. Specific details regarding the alcohol and drug policy in Dijon will be distributed and discussed on-site during your orientation.

Many French students of your age do not drink. However, if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, be aware that you must know your limits and be moderate in your use of alcohol. Not only will you heap embarrassment on yourself and your country if you consume excessively, but you will also jeopardize your health and physical safety. The resident director has the authority to dismiss students from the program for violation of the alcohol and drug policy. If a student is expelled from the program, the student may be sent home with no credit and no refund of fees. Colby takes the alcohol policy very seriously, and asks students to take it seriously as well.

Colby's policy concerning drugs in France is one of zero tolerance. French law prohibits the use of marijuana and other drugs, and provides up to a year's imprisonment for this offense. We simply cannot permit students to be put at risk of accident, arrest or imprisonment. French customs officials routinely search, even strip-search, young men and women arriving on trains and buses from other European countries. Dijon police can stop people in the streets or in parks if they think illegal drugs are in use. If a student is caught using illegal drugs, either by the police or by the resident director, that student may be sent home immediately, without prior notice, and with no credit or refund of fees. Students caught selling illegal drugs may be dismissed from the program and from Colby College.


While you are in France, you are subject to its laws, not those of the US. If you are arrested, your home country embassy can only ensure that you receive equal treatment under the terms of local law and procedure. The protection of United States law and legal procedure does not apply. You should always, in all circumstances, treat the police with respect and produce any document they may request, without confrontation. Being offensive to the police is a crime in France. Do not expect that Colby College can exert any pressure to extricate you from a situation which results from your own inattention to, or disrespect for, the laws of France. 

Health and Insurance

During your orientation in Dijon, Professor Weiss will supply you with a list of medical contacts you may need during your semester, including information for general physicians, gynecologists, dentists, and mental health practitioners. We encourage you to discuss any health concerns with the resident director, but you may choose to consult with any of the practitioners independently.

You are responsible for paying for any visits to doctors, dentists or counselors while in France and during your travels, as well as any hospitalization or testing. You should familiarize yourself with the coverage and procedures of your health insurance provider, including the procedure for filing claims. Please note that French doctors, clinics and hospitals require payment at the time of your treatment and will not bill insurance companies directly.

If you have determined that your parents' health insurance will not cover you abroad (either in France or other places you may travel) and that there is no possibility of purchasing a rider to extend coverage, you can consider purchasing a policy through Colby, underwritten by Commercial Travelers. Although we do not administer the policy, the Office of Off-Campus Study can direct you to the relevant information if this policy is of interest to you.

Health care costs in France are considerably less than in the United States. A regular office visit to a physician costs from 30EUR to 50EUR, and hospital bills run about a third as much as those in the US. Most physicians and dentists accept Visa and Mastercard; you should make sure to keep the receipt (feuille de soin) and send it, along with a translation (Jon Weiss can help with this) to your parents who will, in turn, submit it to their insurance company.

Health care in Dijon is excellent and hospitals have all the modern equipment you find in the US. If you have an ongoing medical condition however, you should bring a copy of your medical records with you. If the condition requires monitoring, please inform the resident director. You should also make a note of any allergies you may have to certain medicines and remember to mention them also to any attending doctor in France. 

Note: Cigarette smoking is much more prevalent in France than in the US. There are few designated non-smoking areas and such designations are still frequently disregarded. Students with sensitivities to cigarette smoke should discuss an adaptation plan with their family doctor.

Dietary Restrictions

It is difficult in France to stick to a strictly vegetarian diet and even more difficult to stick to a vegan diet. While we will try to make allowances for vegetarians, they will need to be flexible and understand that items such as tofu are not commonly eaten in France. Food allergies, however, are another matter, and students with allergies should indicate these on the host family preference form. The resident director will attempt to place students with dietary restrictions in homestays where such needs are readily accommodated. Details on food issues will be reviewed during your on-site orientation.

Money Matters

    You will have an account at the rue de la Liberté branch of the LCL Bank (formerly called the Crédit Lyonnais). While the account carries no interest, there are no charges, except for exchanging money or overdrawing your account. This is a deposit account and has an ATM card which is valid at any branch of the LCL. You will have a PIN code which you should memorize. This code cannot be changed and the bank does not have access to it. 

Your lunch allowance will be deposited directly into your account each month. You can deposit personal checks into your account and they will clear in euros, however there is a sizeable fee for this (up to 40 euros). You may prefer to use a US bank ATM card in France at any one of the numerous machines, but make certain that the card you have will work in foreign countries. Inquire with your US bank about possible service fees that may be assessed at international ATM machines. 


France is an expensive country. A coke taken in a café is likely to cost 2 euros ($2.80), but of course, you’re paying for the time you sit in the café. Clothes, toiletries, and paper products are expensive as well. You will be given a fixed allowance of 40 euros a week for the lunches you won’t have at home. You can also make a sandwich at home and bring it with you. You will have to learn to live on a budget, however, particularly during any personal travel that you do. 

A conservative estimate of how much money to bring would be $2000 for personal use, exclusive of travel. Keep in mind that travel in Europe is expensive, so if you travel extensively, you will need far more than this. Your ISIC card will get you important discounts, especially on admission to museums and historic sites and on travel so be sure to get the most out of it. 

Personal Travel

Travel can be a very enriching experience, and a state-of-the-art rail system makes travel in Europe easy. There will be times when you will want to travel and see new cities and maybe new countries, however you will be in Dijon as a Colby College student with a semester's worth of work to do. Just as on campus you would not leave for the weekend when you have a big paper due during the next week, there will be times when you will have to forego personal travel in Dijon in order to complete assignments.

You will have a fall break (October 29-November 2), when you are free to travel on your own or in small groups. You can also stay in Dijon with your host family for some or all of that period. There will also be a few weekends when, if your work schedule permits, you will be able to travel. Your work comes first, and you will have a great deal of work to do in late November, so you should get most of your traveling in before then.  Returning home (to the US) during the semester is not allowed, except in the case of an emergency, as approved by the resident director.

If you choose to travel independently during your semester in Dijon, the following rules will be strictly enforced for your safety and protection:

You are encouraged to travel to culturally enriching places that are easily accessible by train from Dijon. People under the age of 25 automatically get discounts on trains in France, and a special discount card giving you a 50% reduction costs only 50EUR. 


Dijon has a reputation for the best public transportation system in France, and you will use the system frequently to travel from the center of the city to the university. Buses run almost everywhere and are clean and efficient. You will be given a bus allowance that will enable to you purchase a monthly bus pass.  Bus route maps are available at the station where you purchase your monthly card.

Depending on where you live, the buses will stop running at midnight or at 8pm. On Sunday, the buses run the regular schedule after 12pm. If you are in town and are returning home after the buses have stopped on your line, you should take a taxi (there is a taxi stand at the main train station). Keep your receipt, and Jon will reimburse you the full fare. 

Telephones and Internet Access

Mobile phones: Cell phones have become the standard means of communication in France. You may already have a “quad band” cell phone that operates on European frequencies. You can use that phone in France, but the “roaming charges” added by your US wireless company will be very high. You would do better to purchase an inexpensive cell phone in France without a contract and purchase minutes for it on a pre-paid basis. Please note that the French cell phone system is incompatible with most US cell phones, so do not bring your dual-band US phone to France. More information about purchasing a mobile phone in France will be provided upon arrival. 

E-mail and Internet: You may not have e-mail access from your host family’s home. Some host famliies, but not all, have high-speed Internet access. The resident director has one computer with Internet access, but this is reserved for official Colby business. With your own laptop, you can get Interet service at the University, in almost every building. You will be given a username and password for this service and it is free. Alternatively, you may choose to use a local “cybercafé” in town. These are services for which you pay a fee. You will be given an “Intenet allowance “ of 30EUR a month to help defray these costs.


Pay phones: There are public pay phones throughout Dijon, and by far the least expensive way to phone the US is on a prepaid phone card purchased in France. Pay phones also accept credit cards and calling cards provided by US carriers, but the rate on this is far more expensive than for the French telecards. 

Land line usage: Telephone service in Dijon varies according to the service provider. In general, it is similar to the US, except that some families may not have unlimited local calls. Keep any calls you make from your host family short. Talk to them about telephone use and respect their wishes. 

Your host family may well have some reservations about your using their phone, especially if your calls are lengthy, that may be issues of privacy rather than cost. Most families want their phones to be free for calls from their own friends or relatives. When their host student occupies it for an hour, they may feel that their “space” is invaded. 


While you will want to keep in touch regularly with your family, be kind to your parents and share with them the positive aspects of your experience. There is nothing they can do, for example, to improve the hot water situation in your host family or a misunderstanding that may have arisen with one of your teachers. Let your family know about all the exciting things you have done. Tell the resident director about your problems, big and small, so that appropriate action may be taken on-site. When you have discussed problems with your family, remember to inform them when your issue has been resolved. They will worry until you let them know that you are fine. 

What to Bring

In general, we advise you to bring far less than you think you will need. You will accumulate items as you stay in Dijon, and the baggage limitations will be the same on the return flight (2 checked pieces), so leave room in your suitcase. Also, storage space in European homes is significantly less than in standard US homes. 

Computer: Although students are not required to have a laptop computer in Dijon, most of them find it very useful. If you do choose to bring one with you, make sure it works on 220V AC current (almost all of the computers on the market do). You will need a plug adapter that you can purchase either in advance or in Dijon. If you have a small, portable printer that works on 220V, bring it along, but a printer is not necessary. You will be able to print up your papers at the Colby apartment by saving your work to a CDRom or to a USB-port saving device. If you do choose to bring a computer to France, make sure that it is insured under your parent’s home owner’s insurance policy. 

Books and supplies: Please bring the book you were sent during the summer (Jesuis noir et je n’aime pas le manioc by Gaston Kelman) and, if you are taking FR233, the book by Lawrence Wylie, Les Français. If you do not already have this book, contact Professor Weiss to find out how to purchase it.

Camera: Don’t forget to bring a camera, and, if you have a digital camera, make sure to take it. You will be required to produce a “photo essay” at the end of the program, and a digital camera will be very helpful. If, however, you have a film camera, it will be possible to get digitized copies of your photos to use in the photo essay. 

Clothing:  In general, young people in France dress in a variety of styles. Your goal should be to dress in a culturally acceptable way for each occasion. Blue jeans are ubiquitous. T-shirts and polo shirts are commonly worn (but leave any shirts with offensive messages at home). Running or tennis shoes are also commonly worn, but leather shoes and sandals are more popular and stylish. You will certainly need some sweaters, as France in the fall is quite cool and damp. 

 It is culturally appropriate to dress better, especially for class, than you would in the US. When you attend some cultural events, you may want to dress more formally. Women can bring a dress or two, and men can bring nice trousers and button-down oxford shirts with a tie or two, as well as a sport coat if desired. It often rains in the fall in Dijon, so bring a folding umbrella and lightweight rain jacket. Your resident director will provide you with more details prior to departure. 

Two items of clothing should not be worn in France, because they are perceived as offensive. The first is a baseball cap, especially if worn backwards. The second is a hooded sweatshirt. Young men may find themselves in difficult situations if they wear these items. Please leave them at home.

Medications and toiletries: If you are on any prescription medication, try to take enough with you for the duration of your stay. French pharmacies will not honor US prescriptions. In a pinch, it is possible to obtain a prescription from a French physician for the same medication, or its European equivalent. Likewise, it may be difficult to find comparable over the counter medications that you may use regularly. If you wear glasses, bring an extra pair. If you wear contacts, it is advisable to bring a pair of glasses “just in case.” 

What Not to Bring

Do not bring anything with you that has great sentimental value - you will most likely not use it, and it may be lost or stolen. Avoid bringing unnecessary electrical appliances (hair dryers, etc.) since France uses a different electrical current as well as completely different plugs. If you do need to bring an appliance, make sure it is rated for both 110V (US) and 220V (FR), and that you have a plug converter.

The Group

You have chosen to spend a semester in France as a member of a group. Being part of a group imposes certain responsibilities. For the program to function well, there have to be some ground rules. There are few of these rules, but they are strictly enforced:

  1. You must attend all your classes. Unjustified absences (travel and family visits are not justifications) may result in the lowering of grades or credit, or may result in dismissal from the program.
  2. You must attend all group meetings and be on time. Repeated absences and tardiness may result in the lowering of grades or credit.
  3. You must notify the resident director and your host family of any overnight absences from Dijon. You must tell the resident director where you are going and when you will return to Dijon. You may put this information in a sealed envelope, to be opened only in case of emergency. This rule is for your own protection, and not respecting it may result in dismissal from the program.
  4. You must obtain the resident director's permission for any travel outside of France, and you may not miss classes or group meetings for travel. Not respecting this rule may result in dismissal from the program.

Please keep in mind that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and students may be asked to withdraw, without refund or credit, from the program if the resident director feels that their behavior is irresponsible and threatens their well-being or that of other members of the program. Students are subject to the policies and procedures, where applicable, listed in the Student Handbook, which can be viewed via the web on Colby's home page under "Publications." 

Colby's Responsibilities...And Your Own

Colby College, through the resident directors of its programs abroad, is responsible for the academic program, housing and board allowance, group excursions, and academic guidance of students. The resident director can be of help in some personal matters and has responsibility for all emergency situations that may arise. The resident director is not qualified as a psychologist or social worker.

Colby College does not have personal property or liability insurance for its students abroad. If students lose personal property or if it is stolen, the only recourse they may have is to their own (or their parent's) insurance policies.

The resident director is not a travel agent and is not authorized to help students plan their personal travel. Students are responsible for planning their own personal travel and for informing themselves of any potential safety issues that may exist in the countries they are visiting. They are also responsible for returning to Dijon at the date set by the resident director.

Colby will provide, in addition to round-trip air transportation from Boston, transfer from Paris to Dijon and from Dijon to Paris. This transfer will be at the discretion of the resident director and may include coaches or trains. Excess baggage, and any transportation in addition to the above, is the responsibility of the student. Colby in Dijon cannot be responsible for shipping excess baggage for you at the end of your term abroad. Please keep this in mind as you prepare your luggage for departure from the US and as you accumulate belongings during the semester in France.

Students are responsible for reviewing the information in this handbook and referring to it as a resource during preparation for departure and time abroad.

Important Colby College Telephone Numbers

To call the US from France, first press "00" for an international call, then "1," the international country code for the United States. Finally, dial the US area code and the number.

Colby College

Colby switchboard (207) 859-4000
Off-Campus Study (207) 859-4500
Dean of Students (207) 859-4250
Student Financial Services (207) 859-4120 or 800 723-4033
Registrar (207) 859-4620