Colby Programs Abroad
Parent Handbook 2007-2008
Table of Contents
We are happy to welcome your son or daughter on a Colby College off-campus study program during the 2007-2008 academic year. We would like to invite you to review the information included in this mailing. We have enclosed this parent handbook, as well as a copy of the student handbook, to help you understand the nature of the experience that awaits your son or daughter and to better inform you of Colby College policies. If you have any questions, or if our office can be of any service, please feel free to contact us at 207-859-4500.
With best wishes for an academically fulfilling and exciting semester for your son or daughter,
The Staff of the Office of Off-Campus Study
Colby Programs Abroad
Colby College currently manages study abroad programs in Dijon, France; Salamanca, Spain; and St. Petersburg, Russia. The program in Dijon is run by a resident director, chosen from the Waterville campus, who lives and works on-site on a rotating basis. Colby in Salamanca is run by a single faculty member and associate director on a permanent basis. Colby in St. Petersburg is managed by an on-site director and closely supervised by a Colby faculty from the Department of Russian. All programs are overseen by the Office of Off-Campus Study at Colby College.
Colby programs abroad seek to maximize student integration with the host communities. Where feasible, Colby arranges housing with local host families. However, the reality of housing, logistics and cultural practices vary from one site to another. Where homestays are not possible, Colby arranges dorm or apartment style accommodations in accordance with local standards. Only on the junior integrated program with the University of Salamanca are students permitted to seek their own housing, and they are required to live with Spanish students.
Additionally, Colby programs abroad, through the resident directors, arrange a variety of cultural activities during the course of the academic term. These activities generally include regional excursions, attendance at musical or theatrical performances, and dining opportunities.
Students studying on Colby programs abroad will be studying, in most cases, with local university faculty. The first-year programs combine instruction with Colby and local faculty. Please refer to the individual program handbook for details on the academic program and credit.
Your son or daughter has been given important information and advice regarding safety in the program handbook. In addition, the resident directors discuss country- and city-specific safety and crime information with the students at orientation. However, it is always a good idea to take the time to discuss safety issues with your son or daughter before departure. While we recognize that college-age students have a strong sense of independence and self-reliance, it is critical that they inform themselves, be attentive, and take precautions in their new setting, no matter how safe they perceive it to be.
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 at any of the Colby program sites, communication access among Colby College, program participants, and their families facilitates correspondence, information sharing, and reassurance during any event of global impact.
The State Department has advised Americans traveling anywhere to remain inconspicuous and attentive to their surroundings. We will be strongly advising our students to keep a "low profile" while abroad, at the program site and wherever else they may travel. Any US State Department Travel advisories issued will be immediately forwarded to students. Parents and students alike should refer to the State Department's country-specific reports to stay up to date on local political and security issues: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html to stay up to date on local political and security issues.
Keeping healthy is a prerequisite to having a satisfactory academic and cultural experience abroad. All students on Colby programs are required to carry comprehensive health coverage, either through a family policy or purchased separately. Students are responsible for paying any fees associated with visits to doctors, dentists, or counselors while abroad and during any travels. Students are also responsible for paying any hospitalization or testing. Students and families should, therefore, familiarize themselves with the procedure for filing claims. Please note that any payment is due at the time of treatment and hospitals and clinics will not bill insurance companies directly.
If you have determined that your own insurance coverage will not extend to the overseas program sites or other places your child will 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.
Every student on Colby programs abroad is informed of the availability of medical care and provided emergency contact numbers. If a student has a pre-existing medical condition or serious allergies, these details should be included on the health form that students were required to send to the OCS office at Colby. Please call the office if you believe that there is more information on your son or daughter's health that we should know. It is absolutely critical that our staff have detailed health information so that they can arrange for the best possible care for your son or daughter in the event that it is needed. This also includes any psychological conditions for which he or she may be undergoing treatment.
Behavior while Abroad
The student handbook outlines specific issues regarding Colby's standards for behavior on its programs abroad. We ask that parents encourage their son or daughter to read this handbook prior to departure.
Most issues surrounding inappropriate behavior are related to alcohol consumption. In many European countries, the minimum age for alcohol consumption is 18; in fact, nearly every student on a Colby program abroad can legally be served alcohol in Europe. While Colby's policy is to respect the laws of the country in which our program is located, no student should feel pressured to consume alcohol.
Students should know, and parents should understand, that behavior that may be common at college campuses in the US is unacceptable in Europe. Binge drinking in particular, or drinking to get drunk, is culturally inappropriate. Additionally, other countries may have more stringent laws in a variety of areas, and being a foreigner is no protection. If local laws are contravened, the United States embassy, or your home country embassy, is only able to assure that the student receives equal treatment under the terms of local law and procedure. Your son or daughter will receive a written policy on alcohol consumption during on-site orientation, with a clear indication of possible sanctions for disregard of the policy.
Colby's policy regarding illegal drugs is one of zero tolerance. Students must understand that the consequences for possession or sale of illegal drugs abroad are brutal. Neither Colby nor the United States embassy can help if a student has broken another country's laws. Any student identified by a resident director or program staff as distributing or selling illegal drugs will face immediate dismissal from the program with no refund of fees and no credit.
Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and students will be asked to withdraw from the program, without refund or credit, if the resident director feels that their behavior is irresponsible and threatens their well-being or that of other members of the program. The Dean of Students Office at Colby will receive reports on any inappropriate behavior by students, whether or not this behavior results in dismissal. Students are subject to the policies and procedures, where applicable, listed in the Colby Student Handbook, which can be viewed via the web on Colby's home page under "Publications."
In general, ATM machines are available throughout Europe, but it is important that the ATM card used by the student work outside the US, and thus you should verify this with your bank before departure. Additionally, US banks usually charge transaction fees for overseas use of ATMs. Check directly with your bank to see if international ATM access is possible and precisely what fees are assessed per transaction. In Dijon and Salamanca, bank accounts can be opened for each student, and meal stipends and money for other expenses are provided in local currency or deposited into these accounts.
Parents often wonder how much spending money their son or daughter should take. There is no definitive answer, as it depends on your son or daughter's habits and plans. Does he or she plan to travel? Does he or she plan to buy clothing or develop film locally? Additionally, some cities are more expensive than others. Depending on the country, students often spend as much as $2000 or more per semester for personal travel, personal entertainment, toiletries and some clothing. But this amount can vary, depending on habits and travel plans.
Telephones and Computer Access
In general, locally (on-site) purchased phone cards and cell phones are more practical and economical than US long-distance calling cards. However, families may want to make sure that they have an international calling card so that the overseas student can call them easily. The student should be certain to carry along the appropriate access code (this varies from country to country). Site-specific details on telephone usage and purchase of cell phones will be available during on-site orientation.
All students on Colby programs will have e-mail available, although access is much more limited than in the US. While phone and e-mail contact are invaluable for keeping in touch, an unfortunate trend is for students abroad to spend more time on e-mail and telephone interacting with people at home than actually meeting people in their new country! Additionally, you may tend to hear from your son or daughter when things are not going so well. Usually, the student feels much differently the next day, but neglects to call you about the positive change. While we encourage students to inform their families of changes in status and their positive experiences, you can always contact the resident director if you have serious concerns or are unsure of your son or daughter's progress. Be aware that it is fairly common to receive despairing phone calls early in the semester. These moments should be handled with sympathy, but also placed into the context of cultural adjustment and homesickness.
Travel To and From the Program
The program fee includes round-trip travel from a point of departure, chosen by Colby, to an airport in Europe, and transfer to the program site. Add-on fares can be arranged through Colby's travel agent, but they are the responsibility of each student. Students can choose not to take the group flight and Colby will credit their account with the amount otherwise spent on the group flight ticket. Students who make their own travel arrangements are required to be at the program site on time, and Colby is unable to assist in coordinating local hotel arrangements if students arrive early. In the case of group flights, a member of the Colby College staff is on hand at the airport to answer questions prior to the group departure. In some cases, this staff member may travel overseas with the group.
Students on the group flight will be met at the arrival destination by Colby program staff. Transfer from the airport in Europe to the program site is most often done by bus. On programs in which all students are finished at the same time, transfer back to the airport is also done as a group. On programs where individual students finish at different times, a travel allowance, equivalent to the cost of bus or train fare to the airport, is allotted each student who, in turn, makes his or her own arrangements.
Airlines limit all passengers to two pieces of luggage and one carry-on. If you are uncertain if your son or daughter's luggage is the right size, contact the airline directly. Colby cannot be responsible for the cost of extra luggage on a flight, or for sending clothing or other items by mail or parcel post.
Personal Travel Abroad
On every Colby program abroad there is the opportunity for personal travel and almost every student has done some personal travel during his or her semester abroad. Students know that Colby is very strict about its attendance policy and that travel when classes are in session is not allowed. Students who miss classes because of personal travel may have their grades lowered and credit reduced by the resident director. Parents who visit can help us enforce this policy by not requesting that their son or daughter travel with them when classes are in session. Most programs have a vacation week; please refer to the information appropriate to the program your son or daughter is attending.
Colby College cannot be responsible for students when they travel independently. Resident directors are not authorized to help make personal travel arrangements for students. They can, however, direct them to local travel agents. During periods of individual travel, students are required to let resident directors know their destination, itinerary and date of return -fixed or anticipated- in order to facilitate communication in the event of any emergency.
The Program Fee
You will be assessed the equivalent of Colby College tuition and fees, which covers tuition, room, board, round-trip transportation and a number of organized excursions. Please keep in mind that if a student decides not to go on a program excursion, there will be no refund of money either to student or to parents. Please also note that programs have specific policies with regard to possible changes of return dates on the group flight. Contact Sharron Taglialavore in the Office of Off-Campus Study if you have questions regarding travel arrangements (see page 10).
Financial aid applies to Colby programs abroad. If your son or daughter is on financial aid, please contact the Office of Student Financial Services at Colby to find out the details about aid during the semester abroad (see page 10).
In some cases, when students are cooking for themselves or living in apartments, they will receive a per diem amount from the resident director of the program. On some programs, students eat some of their meals with a host family, and receive a stipend to cover the rest. For programs with fixed end dates, the stipend or per diem lasts until the fixed date. For others in which students have different exam dates, the resident director will set an end date, generally two days after the student's final exam, after which the stipend will be discontinued. While some students may choose to stay in the country at their own expense beyond the end of program date, Colby College cannot be responsible for those who choose to extend their visit.
We expect that your son or daughter will be with us for the entire semester. On rare occasions, however, there have been withdrawals from Colby programs abroad. It is important that parents, as well as students, understand the Colby refund policy for these cases.
In cases of voluntary withdrawal from a Colby program abroad, a student may be eligible for a refund of basic charges as follows: first 10% of the program period: 90%; next 15% of the program period: 50%; next 25% of the program period: 25%; thereafter: 0%. The program period begins with the date of the group arrival in the foreign country.
A pro-rata refund of the basic charges will be made for a student who withdraws for medical reasons confirmed by the Colby College physician. A refund will not be made until the withdrawal/leave process, established by the Dean of Students, is completed.
Please note that it may not always be possible to salvage Colby credits if a student withdraws during the semester and withdrawal may have considerable consequences for a student's academic program. The resident director of the Colby program abroad is solely responsible for determining how many credits can be awarded to the student, as well as the student's grades.
Colby stays in touch with the students on its programs abroad through the resident directors. Students receive the Colby Echo and an online newsletter from the Office of Off-Campus Study. Registration and housing materials will be available online from the Dean of Students Office. Upper-class students will be in touch with their on-campus advisors regarding course choices, and most course registration can now be done on the Internet. First-year students will receive course selection advising by a member of the OCS staff, who will travel to the program site mid-semester. If you have questions about course registration, please contact the Colby's Registrar, or for housing matters, contact the at Dean of Students Office.
Resources at Colby College
Office of Off-Campus Study:
Tel: (207) 859-4500
Fax: (207) 859-4502s
Colby switchboard/After hours emergencies
(207) 859-4120 -OR-