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Colby in Salamanca

Program Information for Incoming First-Year Students 2006


Colby in Salamanca offers incoming first-year students an in-depth, language-intensive experience of cross-cultural study in the heart of Spain.

Founded in the year 1218, the University of Salamanca is the second oldest in Europe, and is generally considered Spain's most prestigious university. It is located in the small city of Salamanca, about 200km west of Madrid, in the province of Castille. The University of Salamanca has hosted Colby students since 1985, in a program for highly motivated juniors who have a firm grasp of Spanish. This program, unlike the program for first-year students, allows students to take regular university courses (open only to juniors). Colby first-year students will get to know the juniors (from Colby and other colleges) during the semester.

Colby in Salamanca is under the direction of Dr. Javier González, who has taught Spanish at Colby since 1985 and directed Colby's former first-year student program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He holds the Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington, and has been resident director in Salamanca since 1994. Dr. González is assisted by Ms. Miriam Pérez, who has been the program assistant since September of 2001.

The program is open to students with various levels of Spanish, from two years in high school to advanced placement. It requires of students that they be open-minded and willing to speak Spanish as much as possible while in Salamanca. In this program learning takes place as much outside the classroom as inside, for students will be "studying" about Spain sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.


Academic Program

All Colby in Salamanca first-year students are registered at the University of Salamanca, and take their courses in the department of Cursos Internacionales, which specializes in teaching Spanish to foreigners. Located in the center of the oldest part of the university, Cursos Internacionales offers instruction in Spanish at all levels, from basic to advanced; courses in literature, history, and art history are also offered. About 80 per cent of the students taking Spanish language courses at Cursos Internacionales are European; in addition there are other American students and Asian students. For most of their courses, Colby students in this program will be in classes with students from around the world.

Students normally take a mixture of language and civilization courses, along with a special seminar taught specifically for them and required of all first-year students. The total number of credits an incoming first-year student will receive is 16, and the distribution is as follows:

Intensive Spanish (SP 111 or 211): 3 credits. This four-week intensive course is given during the month of September. Based on their level as determined by a placement test, they take courses at their appropriate level, three hours per day, five days per week.

Spanish Language Courses: Based on their level as determined by a placement exam, students are placed at appropriate levels and take courses in oral and written Spanish, three hours per day, five days per week from September to December. Students earn credit for equivalent Colby courses depending on their level::

  • Level inicial: SP125, SP126
  • Level intermedio: SP126, SP127
  • Level avanzado: SP127, SP128
  • Level superior: SP129, SP130

Students placing at the Superior level in September must take either Literatura española or Practicas escritas as an option if they wish to be enrolled in Spanish 135 at Colby.

By completing the intermedio level with a grade of C or better, students get credit for SP127, thus satisfying Colby's foreign language requirement. More advanced students get credit for more advanced language courses.

SP 198 first-year student seminar: 3 credits. A seminar, meeting two hours per week from September to December, is required of all first-year students. Depending on the variations in the level of Spanish within the group, the seminar will be taught in one section or two. The seminar topic will be Transition to Democracy and will include current affairs as well as a study of the structure of Spanish society. It will include two substantial written assignments.

Options: Students who place in the inicial level will take 2 hours of language lab and conversation per day instead of courses in history, literature, or art history. They will earn 3 credits for this course (one during the September program, two during the fall semester), that will go on their transcript as SP197, Spanish Conversation.

Students in all levels except inicial may choose between courses on Spanish literature, the History of Contemporary Spain, and the History of Spanish Art. These courses meet one hour per day, five days per week. Students receive one credit for a course during the four-week September program and two credits for a course during the fall semester.

Students may continue with the same subject after the first four weeks (course content does not repeat) or may change to a different course for the fall semester. Students who choose to continue with the same course during the entire semester may be able to satisfy Colby's requirements for history, art, or literature.

Grades earned in Salamanca are awarded by the resident director, in consultation with professors from the University. Grades are posted on students' transcripts and count toward students' Colby grade point average.


The Homestay

All Colby in Salamanca first-year students are housed, for the entire semester, with Spanish families in Salamanca. Most of these families live within walking distance of the University; some live within a short bus ride. There is one Colby student per family, and choices of families are made by the resident director based on a housing form that will be sent to participating students before departure.

Although every effort is made to find the best living situations possible, students and their parents should understand that many of the households open to students in Salamanca are run more like rooming houses than "families" in the US sense of the term. There may be other students living in the household (although this will not be another English-speaking student) and there may be few family activities. Whatever the family situation, however, all Colby students will have the following:

  • A single room with a table or desk to work on.
  • Sheets, towels, and blankets supplied.
  • Three meals per day (including weekends).
  • Students' laundry will be done by the families once per week.

Although there are no curfews in the families, students should treat them with the same consideration and respect they treat their own families. No overnight visitors are allowed, nor can students have parties in their rooms. There are very firm rules that will be distributed by the resident director upon students' arrival in Salamanca.


Tentative Program Schedule

In 2006, Colby in Salamanca will begin on on September 1 (departure on August 31) and end on December 15. At the end of the program, students return home and are expected to be at Colby on January 2, 2007.

August 31 Departure from New York's JFK International Airport
September 1 Arrival in Salamanca/Arrival at host family
September 2-3 Orientation
September 4 Classes begin
September Weekend day excursions throughout the month
September 28- Oct. 1 Excursion to Asturias and Santander
October 12 Día de Hispanidad (Spanish Heritage Day)
November 1-5 Mid-semester break
December 6-10 Excursion to Andalucia
December 14 Classes end
December 15 Departure from Salamanca/Arrival JFK New York


The Colby Center

A Center for Colby in Salamanca students (both juniors and first-year students) is located in the center of the city, not far from the university. It is open from Monday to Friday, in the mornings and afternoons. The center contains the offices of the resident director and his assistant, as well as a lounge, kitchenette (for snacks), and a small study room. Students may also study at the University libraries or in their rooms.

The phone number of the Colby Center in Salamanca is: (34) 923-26-40-37.
Spanish is the only language permitted at the Colby in Salamanca Center.


Money and Costs

Colby in Salamanca is an all-inclusive program. The program fee, equal to the comprehensive semester fee at Colby College, includes round-trip transportation between New York and Salamanca, tuition, room and board in the families, laundry in the families, organized excursions, and group activities. Not included are: personal travel, local transportation (but everything in Salamanca is within walking distance), books, etc.

If students wish, Colby can help them open an account in a bank, the Centro Hispano, Spain's largest. There is no cost for this account, which carries no interest, and there is an ATM card available that works only in branches of this bank, in Spain. It is not necessary, however, to open an account in Spain.

Students should bring with them either travelers' cheques (in Euros) or an ATM card on a US bank that is programmed to work abroad. ATM machines in Salamanca and all over Europe accept US cards. Students should ask their home banks before departure if their card will work abroad and what fees may be assessed for international ATM use.


Health and Safety Abroad

As a first-year student enrolled in the Language Acquisition Program, you will have some basic health insurance available to you through a plan contracted by Cursos Internacionales. Coverage includes office visits, hospitalization, and surgical interventions within Spain. However, since these services are limited, comprehensive health coverage, either through your parent's policy or purchased separately, is still required. You are responsible for paying for any fees associated with visits to doctors, dentists, or counselors while in Spain and during any travels, as well as any hospitalization or testing. You should therefore, familiarize yourself with the procedure for filing claims. Please note that any payment due at the time of your treatment will be your responsibility. Hospitals and clinics will not bill insurance companies directly. More information on health insurance will be included in the Handbook for accepted students.

Health care in Salamanca is excellent and hospitals have all the modern equipment you find in the US. Students with an ongoing medical condition however, should expect to take copies of medical records with them and discuss their situation with their own doctor before departure.

The resident director briefs students on general issues of safety during the orientation period. Although Salamanca is generally a safe city, students are encouraged to take the precautions necessary in any urban environment.


Social Life, Extra-Curricular Activities and Excursions

Colby in Salamanca organizes a number of excursions that are available at no extra cost. During September, excursions are organized by Cursos Internacionales to locations such as Toledo and Segovia, which students are encouraged to participate in. During the regular semester, there are two overnight excursions. Group dinners are held at the beginning and end of the semester.

The University of Salamanca has a sports center, but there are no intercollegiate teams and there is no field house. A number of private fitness centers are, however, located throughout the city. Colby in Salamanca will reimburse students up to half the cost of membership in a fitness center, up to a reasonable limit. Colby in Salamanca will also reimburse students half of the cost of attending cultural events (such as plays, movies in Spanish, etc.). More information on this cultural and recreational program will be available for students upon arrival in Salamanca.

The Resident Director

The resident director lives in Salamanca and is available for any emergency that may arise. The director's apartment is located near the city center, at the Plaza del Campillo. He is responsible for the academic and extra-curricular programs and has wide authority in disciplinary matters.

Students will be able to consult the resident director during regular office hours at the Colby Center. Dr. González will serve as a resource for information about Colby as well as about Spain.


What the Semester in Salamanca Will Bring

By beginning a Colby career with a semester in Salamanca, first-year students will have a cultural experience unlike any other. They will live in a university city amid buildings, some of which date from medieval times; they will see some of Europe's most fascinating architecture and works of art; they will form friendships, some of them cross-cultural, that may last a lifetime.

Most importantly, the semester in Spain will be a 16-hour-per-day learning experience. The dividing line between work and play, between what students are doing to further their academic pursuits and what they are doing to have fun, will disappear. Students may find that there is very little "work" to do for classes, certainly at the beginning of the regular semester. Yet they will be "working" on their Spanish at all times-when they are sitting in a café with friends, when they are walking through the streets of Salamanca, when they are with their Spanish family, when they listen to Spanish music, or when they dream in Spanish at night. This is truly the most natural way to learn Spanish.

How much students learn from the semester's experience depends on each student's attitude toward the experience itself. An openness of mind and of spirit, an ability to bounce back after disappointment, a willingness to accept diversity - all these will influence what each person learns from the semester in Spain. Colby in Salamanca can provide the resources for an extraordinarily rich semester, but it is up to each student to take advantage of these resources and make the semester an intense linguistic and cultural experience.



Prospective students and their parents may contact Dr. Javier González, the resident director of the Salamanca program for more program details. He may also be reached by phone, but please remember that Salamanca six hours ahead of eastern US time. His office number is: 011-34-923-26-40-37.

Information relating to travel and similar arrangements can be obtained from the Off-Campus Study Office at Colby College. The Off-Campus Study staff can also be reached at: 207-859-4500. Questions may also be addressed to the Director of Off-Campus Study, Jim Citron or the Associate Director of Off-Campus Study, Danna Lee.


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