An Inside Look at Colby in Dijon, Fall 2018

Established in 1985, Colby in Dijon offers an in-depth, language intensive, structured experience of cross-cultural study in the heart of France. Dijon is a medium-sized city with a university that dates back to the middle ages. Because there are few American students in Dijon, there is more of an opportunity to speak French and to meet French people than in Paris. The Colby in Dijon program encourages the use of the French language and cultural integration through a homestay with a carefully chosen French family and through a variety of cultural activities, including some with French students.

Colby in Dijon serves both Global Entry Semester students and upper class students, and is available for the fall semester only.

Colby in Dijon is available for the Fall semester only.

A Language Acquisition Program

For students with limited French experience (from one semester of college French to four semesters), Colby in Dijon offers a language acquisition program that includes special classes for non-French speaking students at the Centre International D’Etudes Françaises (CIEF) of the Université de Bourgogne, as well as courses in French history, art history, and current events. Students are placed in appropriate levels and receive a full semester of Colby credit.

A Program for More Advanced French Learners

Students with more than two years of college French (equivalent to 200 level courses at Colby) take language courses at the advanced level, may take one or more of the courses in history, art history, and contemporary France, and may also take one or two regular university courses at the Université de Bourgogne, in areas including history, political science, economics, literature, and sociology.

Other Program features include

  • Student support services provided by Resident Director Jonathan Weiss.
  • Students live with carefully chosen French families.
  • The program includes activities with French student animateurs.
  • Field trips and excursions, including the south of France, Paris, Normandy, Chartres, Strasbourg, and World War I battlefields. All excursions are included in the program fee.

Dijon: The City

Dijon is located approximately 300 kilometers southeast of Paris and is easily accessible from the capital via high-speed train. A medium-sized city of almost 200,000 inhabitants, Dijon contains many famous cultural attractions, including the spectacular palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the Puits de Moïse, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which houses one of the finest collections of painting and sculpture in France. The city has the largest preserved old quarter in France, much of which is now a pedestrian mall.

Dijon has one of the most perfected public transportation systems in France. Students will have classes in a variety of places—the university, a lycée, the archaeological museum, and the director’s apartment—but will be able to get easily from one place to the other.

The director’s apartment is in the historical center of the city, and is where Professor Weiss and his wife, Dace, live. The seminar on contemporary France is held there, as are a variety of program activities.

Colby in Dijon for Upper Class Students (Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors)


All students take French language courses, taught on the university campus through the Centre International d’Etudes Françaises (CIEF).

In addition to these courses, upper class students attending the Dijon program have two options. They can either:

  1. Take special Colby in Dijon courses. This option is recommended for students who have not yet taken a 200-level French course at Colby.

Colby in Dijon courses, taught in French, include the following:

  • French History from the Gallo-Roman period to the Revolution (H)
  • Portrait of a City: The History of Dijon through its Art and Architecture (A)
  • Major Issues in Today’s France (seminar) (offered in English and French) ( S, I)
  1. Take one or two regular university courses at the Universite de Bourgogne, as well as one or two special Colby in Dijon courses. This option is open to juniors who have already taken at least one 200-level French course at Colby. University courses begin in early September and extend until early December; there is no final exam for Colby students, but students will be required to write a mini-mémoire of approximately 25 pages in French. Courses that Colby students have taken in past years include: Sociology, Modern History, Comparative Literature, The Institutions of the European Community, European history through food.

It is impossible to know which university courses will be offered until the beginning of September, although courses offered in past years will usually be repeated.

Language Requirement

If students successfully complete the intermediate language course (level 3 at the CIEF) with a grade of C or better, they will satisfy Colby’s language requirement. Students who do not complete this course with a grade of C or better will normally be required to take a semester of French at Colby to satisfy the language requirement.

Students who have already satisfied the language requirement will get credit for more advanced courses.

Grades and Credits

Grades are assigned by the resident director upon recommendation from the French faculty.  For Colby students, all grades count toward the grade point average (GPA). The following Colby all-college requirements may be satisfied by courses taken in Dijon: language (L), social science (S), history (H), art (A), and international diversity (I). The normal number of credits satisfied in Dijon is 16, the equivalent of a full semester.


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. During the week, 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 with their host families. Students are given a stipend to enable them to purchase lunches during the week. They are also given a bus and tram pass valid for the semester. 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 guarantee of a perfect match. We can, however, assure students that only the families that receive excellent reviews by former Colby in Dijon participants are selected to participate in the homestay program.

Social Life and Extra-curricular Activities


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.


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 soon after arrival in France.
  • A three-day excursion to the south of France, including a canoe trip (weather permitting).
  • A day excursion to northern Burgundy (including the pilgrimage town of Vézelay and the Cistercian abbey of Fontenay);
  • A three-day excursion to Paris, emphasizing the medieval and renaissance periods of the city, and with ample free time;
  • Two days on the seaside in Normandy, with visits to the landing beaches and the American military cemetery.
  • An excursion to be determined with the Colby in Salamanca group
  • An excursion to the city of Beaune and its 15th century hospital;
  • An overnight to the city of Lyon

The cost of excursions is included in the program fee.


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.

Program Schedule

Colby in Dijon normally begins at the end of August and extends until mid-December (fifteen weeks). There is a week’s break at the end of October. The fall 2019 schedule will be available from the Off-Campus Study office in the spring.

Program Fees

The fees for Colby programs abroad are equivalent to the comprehensive fees for Colby College. (Please note that program fees are also subject to any annual comprehensive fee increases.) Students are billed by Colby, and are exempt from the $1000 study abroad fee. The fee covers: tuition, room, board and a board allowance, excursions, and roundtrip airfare and transfers to program sites. For Colby in Dijon, fees also include a monthly bus and tram pass. Books, meals during vacation periods, insurance, laundry expenses, and personal travel are not included. A forfeitable deposit of $500 is due at the time of acceptance.


Colby in Dijon is open to upper class students in good standing who have a cumulative grand point average of 2.7 or higher (on a four point scale) and have had at least one semester of college French or its equivalent (or 2-3 years of French in high school).


For more information about the program, and for specific questions, e-mail the resident director, Professor Jonathan Weiss ([email protected]).

To Apply

Colby programs abroad are open to any Colby student, regardless of major, who meets the specific program requirements outlined above.

Colby students should follow the Colby Application for Approval process due March 15.