Q&A: Sara Lezin '14
Sara Lezin ’14 spent her first semester in Salamanca, Spain, on one of two study-abroad programs for first-year students offered by Colby. Two weeks after arriving on campus, she spoke with Hannah DeAngelis ’12 about her salsa dancing host-sisters, learning Spanish, and getting used to the Maine cold.
I was really enticed by Salamanca. There was nothing unappealing about going abroad at all. I spent a summer in Costa Rica ... and I was so excited to learn Spanish. I think it helped a lot just to know that I could be away from home and I don’t get homesick. Actually, the part that I was the most afraid of was Iced COOT [winter orientation]. I was very frightened of the cold, and it was sort of this unknown to me. I didn’t know what to expect, because I had never experienced anything close to it.
So, are you cold?
It hasn’t been that bad for me, shockingly. Before I came I thought I was going to be in ten layers all the time and never wear anything but sweatshirts. I thought that because it was going to be so cold there would be limited activities—but there are so many more things you can do, surprisingly. I mean I love the outdoors, but I never thought that I would be moonlight cross-country skiing tonight with the Outing Club.
You decided to head east for college?
My brother goes to school on the East Coast, so it made it, I guess, more tangible. I visited him [and] I felt like, ‘Okay I guess I could be far away.’ I visited Bowdoin, Bates, Colby. I wasn’t a fan of the other two schools. Colby was the last school I visited, and I came here and just completely fell in love with it. Everyone was so active and happy and nice and—just a completely different vibe.
Back to Spain. Did you have a host family?
There was just a really fun dynamic within the family. I had two host sisters who were adorable. I was right in the middle of them—they were 15 and 19. Before dinner they would practice their salsa dancing, and sometimes they would teach me. I mean, I am the worst dancer in the world, so it was pretty embarrassing. I was normally the spectator, but they would blast salsa music and put on their heels. They never dressed me up, thankfully, but they would take dance classes once a week, so they had to practice to stay up to par.
What about classes abroad?
Everything was in Spanish. Grammar class for two hours every morning. That was brutal. Then a conversation class, and then Spanish film class. And once a week we also had a seminar for two hours about the transition to democracy in Spain. All of our classes were in the international part of the university, so in our classes we had other students from American universities but also students from all over the world. I loved that part. Being with international students was incredible. Everyone was so friendly. A lot of the times the common language was Spanish. I made friends with a Taiwanese girl, and we would speak Spanish all the time, which was really funny. English is such a universal language, but everyone was there to learn Spanish.
Photo by Kimberly Johnson '14
I definitely miss my host family a lot. I don’t miss the food. My family served a lot of liver, which was not my favorite, and essentially everything is fried. But mostly, I miss the siestas. That is something that just has to come here. We all are just so out of sync without siestas.
What are you up to during Jan Plan?
I’m taking English 115—writing academic papers. I thought because we were just writing Spanish and speaking Spanish it might be nice to get back into the routine of actually writing papers. It’s been a while. It’s with Professor Mills. He’s a really cool guy. I don’t actually have class, I just have meetings twice a week with our teacher. We go over papers together and then meet with our teacher, then write another paper. I’m going downhill skiing for the first time tomorrow, … and I met someone so I’m playing broomball. It’s really, really awesome. I have all of these bruises—it gets aggressive. I just joined a team.
Have you met lots of people on campus?
I’m living in Woodman, which is a quiet dorm. It’s actually worked out really well. My roommate could not be nicer. She was not a February freshman, and it’s been really nice to have someone who’s already been here.
What about classes for the spring?
I came here hoping to be a biology major, but I can’t take the intro class in the spring. But I think it’s going to be a good thing, because I really don’t know what I want, and I’ll be able to explore different avenues. I mean I think that it really worked out. It will keep me with an open mind rather than putting myself on a one-track course. I’m taking intro to pysch, multivariable calc, science, technology and society, and Roman history. I was telling my friend who is premed at a different school about my schedule, and she was like, “It sounds soooo liberal arts.”
Anything you would tell future freshman going to Salamanca?
I definitely was lucky because I had almost the perfect host family situation. You can’t expect to have the ideal host family situation, and if you don’t, like many of us didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. You still can get involved and put yourself out there. Just to take advantage of Salamanca. I feel like we could have … really explored what was just around the corner. Salamanca is such a cool place. I feel like there’s a lot more to offer than we really tapped into.
Can you tell me a story about your time in Spain?
This is just a story of stupidity. Ten of us decided to go to Paris together. We rented an apartment, for only thirty euro a night, in the center of Paris. It was so artsy, a penthouse suite, and somehow we got this incredible deal. On the way there … the timing was a little off. We took a bus from Salamanca to Madrid. Once we got to Madrid we only had fifteen minutes to change terminals and board the plane. We sprinted through two terminals, somehow we all got our boarding passes. We pleaded with them and convinced them. We got there just in the nick of time—the last minute, completely drenched in sweat—then spent a fantastic weekend in Paris.