Colby in Dijon

First-Year Student 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. A detailed arrival handbook will be distributed to all students at the first orientation meeting in Dijon.

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. You will be met at Boston's Logan International Airport by Gabriel Weiss, who will accompany the group flight to France. You should plan to be at the airport at least three hours before departure (8:20AM). Please review airport and airline security procedures and safety information information for both Boston's Logan and the Transportation Security Administration.

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 20067 is Jonathan Weiss, NEH Class of 1940 Distinguished Teaching Professor of Humanities. Jon holds degrees from Columbia and Yale universities, and has been in the French department at Colby College since 1972. From 1991 to 2000, Jon was associate dean of faculty and director of off-campus study. He is a published scholar, and his new book, a biography of the best-selling French author Irène Némirovsky, was published in Paris in March 2005 and will appear in English in October 2006.

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 first-year seminar on Contemporary France, 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, Jon has the authority to lower grades if a student has missed classes without reasons, 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, Jon 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 be available on a regular basis for students consultation.  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
Email: [email protected]



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 27-39

Excursion to Loire Valley 

October 6-7

 Excursion to Vézelay,  Fontenay and Northern Burgundy

October 20

Day trip to Lyon

October 29-November 2

Fall Break (no classes)

November 10

Day trip too 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



An important characteristic of the Dijon program is that all courses (except for one section of the first-year seminar) are given in French. This fact may cause some concern for students who have had only two years of French (or have not had French recently), but there is no cause for alarm. Your teachers are aware of your levels; they will speak slowly, if necessary, and repeat important points. Students at all levels of French have successfully completed the Dijon program in the past twenty years, and this year’s group will not be an exception!

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, you will have three other courses for the duration of your time in France: Professor Weiss's seminar on contemporary France, a course in art history, and a course in the history and civilization of France. These courses will meet two hours per week each and will include out-of-class excursions and activities.

Except for Professor Weiss's class, you will be taking classes from French nationals who already have considerable 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.

Your course in history and art history are given in other locations in Dijon, and the seminar is given in the director's apartment. These courses are exclusively for Colby in Dijon students and may be scheduled mid-week during the evening.

For several reasons, including an academic calendar that does not correspond to the US model and a lack of introductory courses in most disciplines, first-year students in the Dijon program do not take regular French university courses. Ample opportunity exists, however, to meet young French people through a variety of activities, some planned by the program and some by other organizations.

Except for the seminar, which is taught in the US American style, classes will have a very European flavor to them. Many 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 professors evaluate students less on class participation than on the quality of the homework and on exams. You can expect a mid-term and final exam in all of your courses, and a research project or paper in some of them. 



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. 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 you; recreational/cultural excursions (for example, the Alps) and excursions related to your courses (Burgundy, the Loire Valley). During the excursions related to your courses, you will be given assignments that are due in class. Excursions are normally 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. All host families in Dijon have had Colby students before. 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 environment. Even in the most ideal placement, however, 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.

Normally, you will be informed of the name and address of your host family in early August. In rare instances, we have had to change a student's host family at the last minute. You will, of course, be informed if any changes occur.

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 cafés for conversation to noisy discothèques 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.

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). An American 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 American 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.

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 (credit cards are universally accepted) 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.

If you have an ongoing medical condition, you should bring a copy of your medical records with you. If you are taking medication on a regular basis, including birth control pills, bring with you a supply that will last for the entire semester. If your condition requires monitoring, please inform the resident director as soon as possible (before you leave). 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. 

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 more 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 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 (40 EUR). 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 and currently, the US dollar continues to fall against the euro. A coke taken in a cafè is likely to cost 2EUR ($2.80), but of course, you're paying for the time you sit in the cafè. Clothes, toiletries, and paper products are expensive as well. You will be given a fixed allowance of 40EUR 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 there are no classes or other activities planned, and 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. As a general rule, you should not plan any personal travel during the final month of classes (after November 13). Returning home (to the US) during the semester is not allowed except in an emergency, approved in advance 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.There are inexpensive buses that link Dijon to major European cities (Eurolines), and low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air are available from Paris.    


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.

Taxis in Dijon are clean and safe. When you arrive in Dijon, you will be given a number to call for taxi service. Should you need to go home after buses stop running, and if the route is unsafe or too far to walk, you should call a cab. The resident director will review reimbursement procedures for late-night taxi expenses during the on-site orientation. 

Telephones and Internet Access

Mobile phones: Cell phones have become the standard means for communication in Europe. 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 to 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.

You may purchase a mobile phone in France for approximately 60EUR. Most mobile phones work on a prepaid, card system. Generally you do not pay for incoming calls. Outgoing calls are fairly costly, but text messages (SMS) are inexpensive. More information about purchasing a mobile phone in France will be provided upon arrival.

Email and Internet: You may not have email access from your host family's home. Some host families, but not all, have wireless 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 internet service at the University (you will be told which buildings have wireless service). You will be given a username and password for this service, and it is free. Alternatively, you may choose to use a local "cybercafe" in town. These, of course, are services for which you pay a fee. You will be given an "internet 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.

Landline usage: Telephone service in Dijon is unlike service in US where, in many locations, a flat monthly fee allows you unlimited time on local calls. Local calls in Dijon are metered, and charged accordingly, thus making the long conversations that you may be accustomed to quite expensive. Moreover, the French spend far less time on the phone than Americans. Lengthy phone calls discussing minute details of day-to-day life are extremely uncommon. Keep any calls you make from your host family short. Talk to them about telephone use and respect their wishes.

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. Many host families have wireless internet access, and most buildings at the university have wi-fi. 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 in advance (it allows North American plugs to be put in European sockets) 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 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:You need to bring two books for your courses in Dijon: Les Français by Lawrence Wylie (for the seminar) and Je suis noir et je n'aime pas le manioc by Gaston Kelman, your summer reading. You will need to purchase the Wylie book on line; you cannot buy it in Dijon. The Kelman book is being sent to you. Do not bring paper (including portable printer paper) and notebooks with you because you will need to purchase European-sized paper in Dijon.

Camera: Students are asked to bring a camera with them to use in their course on the history of Burgundy. Please contact Professor Weiss for details.

Clothing:In general, young people in France dress in a variety of styles but slightly more formal than most young Americans. Your goal should be to dress in a culturally acceptable way for each occasion. Blue jeans are ubiquitous. Polo shirts are commonly worn. Running or tennis shoes are fine, 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. 

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 adapter.


Coming to Colby

In late October or early November, you will be receiving information from the Dean of Students Office regarding your housing on campus for the spring semester. You will have an opportunity to request a specific roommate if you have identified someone with whom you would like to live. You will also receive information from the registrar on course selection for the January term and spring semester. Your resident director, who will also be the academic advisor to first-year students in Dijon, will meet with each of you privately to help you choose appropriate courses.

A new “Dijon Links Program” has been set up by former Dijon students. In November, these students will contact current Dijon students via e-mail, and will help current students integrate into campus life in January through a variety of social events.

All first-year students at Colby are required to take a course in January ("JanPlan"), normally on campus, and there will be many activities organized for the entire Class of 2011 during that time. The Dean of Students Office will be providing information for you about the orientation that will be held for you during January, including a winter COOT (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip). and activities related to the “Links Program” described above. 


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 the European Union (and Switzerland), 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 counseling 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.
To call France from the US, first press "011" and then the country code for France (33). Then dial the complete number, omitting the first zero.

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


(207) 859-4620

Colby in Dijon apartment

03 80 50 17 18

Jon Weiss mobile

06 63 35 51 82



Colby in Dijon Class of 2010

Students are asked on their program evaluations what they would advise an incoming student to the program. The following is a collection of comments from the Colby in Dijon Class of 2010:

"It was an amazing experience that I doubt I will ever get a chance to repeat in my life. What a feeling it is now to know that somewhere in the world I have a little city I know inside and out. Dijon will always feel like a second home."

"If I were to give advice to a student going next year the only thing I would day would be to totally immerse him/herself totally into the culture and speak the language as much as possible. I believe if I did that I would be so much better at French."

"Go into the program with an open mind ready to try new things. If you are opened to new ideas and trying new ways of life in a foreign culture you will have a great time."

"Expect ups and downs. Don't think you won't recover from the low points. After everything, it will all be worth it. You get out of it what you put in. If you are determined it will be miserable, it will; I've seen it happen. Realize it is three months out of your life, an amazingly unique experience, and appreciate it."

"This program is very structured and filled with opportunity. You can engage in sports, community service, outside classes. The opportunity was endless. We had all the means. Classes were comprehensive and thorough; food was excellent, good orientation to the city, always felt safe with the group. "Les animateurs" gave us perspective on the young adult world in France. Cultural activities everywhere. And lastly, your host family really does seem to replace your family from home, which is why after the first week (or less) you should find yourself to be quite independent and not homesick."

"It's a chance of a lifetime and even if it's going to be a hard transition, so what? You're going to be in France and once you make friends with the other Colby kids, it'll seem like you're on a four month vacation. Don't miss any opportunities to go abroad.. Take advantage of the night life, etc."

"I have to say that those three months were most likely the best of my life. I learned a great deal about myself and others. Of course, I vastly improved my French language skills, and knowledge of French history, art and culture, but the most important part were the other things, such as learning how to function in a group, live and interact with host family and French people. I think everyone had a different experience but it was an extremely beneficial program. I would go back in a heartbeat."

"I would tell future students not obsess about the difficulties of being so far away from home and being off-campus first semester. Colby in Dijon is a one of a kind experience, and although 3 and a half months may seem like an incredibly long time, it won't seem that way a year later, or even after a month of being at Colby. They will have plenty of time to enjoy being on campus and in America. Ultimately, the experience will be what you make of it, so you should take advantage of the great aspects of living in France, like sitting for hours in an outdoor cafe with your friends, ordering wine and cheese plates. If you're concerned about transitioning into life at Colby after being abroad, that too will be as easy or as hard as you try to make it. My friends and I had a great time in Dijon, and we concur that in retrospect, we wouldn't have wanted to do Colby any other way."

"I would advise people to join an activity outside the Colby circuit. The group can feel very small at times, and it is nice to have somewhere else to go. Even if you are homesick or not happy about being sent to France, appreciate where you are and what you are learning. It is a short period of time and will go quickly. Take advantage of free weekends to travel. There is a lot to see not far from Dijon. Trains are not very expensive and adventures are always exciting, even the ones that go wrong. Be brave even when it scary to try something new. This concerns all aspects of being in a foreign country, with food or traveling or meeting people. And always know that home is waiting where you left it. Dijon is an opportunity now. Enjoy it. Appreciate it. Don't waste away your time complaining. It won't get you anywhere."