I can try to answer with the caveat that I am a parent (so am not on campus - my info is only what DS, a senior, has relayed.)
Yes, the students work very hard, but they seem to have time for lots of fun too. It’s easy on a small campus to study between classes, meet friends for meals, run to the gym – to have it all. If you look at IG like this Colby life, you’ll see that pretty much everyone is involved in a lot of things. Athletes in a capella groups, musicians volunteering and working on campus, theater kids leading outdoor expeditions. It’s a great place to try new things - I have been super impressed not just with what’s offered but with a culture that seems to embrace “giving it a whirl”.
There are lots of events on campus (concerts, parties, bands, games, Intramural sports, etc.) The outting club is very active and Maine is amazing in what it offers on that front. Some kids ski a lot in winter (especially Jan Plan) Jan Plan, btw, is awesome. It’s a great way to really mix it up in the middle of the year and to change the rhythm of winter (or to escape it).
There are a number of restaurants and bars, many with live music on weekends, in Waterville. There is also an art house (I think) cinema. With roughly 200 students living in Colby housing downtown, there’s frequent shuttle service into town.
The biggest complaint I have heard about winter isn’t the cold but the short days. As kids were leaving campus for covid19, they were really sad to be missing their hard earned spring. Campus is beautiful in spring and there are more activities outside.
The kids seem really happy there - there is a strong sense of community and a real love for the school. DS had friends who graduated a few years before him and has younger friends now, which is also nice. He also has profs who have the class over for dinner, etc.
As a parent with just random contact with the day to day, it really seems like a great place to live while getting a great education. There is a lot to be said for living in this kind of environment for college.