Molly Juhlin '05

Molly Juhlin '05

Hometown: Winfield, Kansas
Major: Spanish and Latin American Studies

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I wanted to go to school far away. I'm from Kansas, and I wanted to go to the East Coast. I started to look at schools, found Bowdoin, came to visit, and it felt right. I came back in November to do an overnight just to make sure before I applied Early Decision. And I loved it. Everyone was really nice. So I said, "That's where I want to go to school." I just felt like people smiled a lot. I was lucky and it was [very] easy.

How did you decide on your major?
I didn't know that Latin American studies was a major until the end of my freshman year or sophomore year, but I knew that I wanted to study Spanish because I wanted to study away. I thought I was going to be a Spanish and chemistry double major, so I took some chemistry, physics, and math, and realized that I didn't really like labs, but I really liked Spanish classes.

I took a freshman seminar called Contemporary Argentina with Allen Wells [of the history department]. And then I took another class with him and then I took another class with him and then I realized sophomore year that I was on my way to a major - so I just accidentally fell into Latin American studies. Spanish worked out [very] well with study away, and I really like the department.

What extracurriculars do you participate in?
I did indoor and outdoor track and cross country both my freshman and sophomore years. I studied away junior year [fall semester] and I didn't do it when I came back [in the spring], but I am going to do winter indoor track this year because I miss it.

I'm also [very] involved in dance. I've taken dance classes and ballroom classes. I'm currently dancing in two dance [students'] independent study project.

I've led some Pre-Orientation trips. I led a community immersion [pre-o] my sophomore year, and I led one with the Bowdoin Outing Club this past August.

I just started this new activity that's a lot fun. I read to little kids in a Midcoast Maine chapter of a program called Success by Six. It gives pre-literacy skills to kids before they're in kindergarten. So every Wednesday morning I go to the Bath YMCA and read for an hour to three and four year olds. And it's hilarious. Four year olds are so funny, it kills me.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
This is a really tough question. It's not just one specific thing, but I love those days in spring when it's nice [outside]. Everyone runs to the Quad, they bring their blankets and they put on their sundresses and sunglasses and everyone reads on the Quad. That always makes me really happy. I think Ivies Weekend last year was the epitome of a sunny day in spring, with all the bands [playing]. Everyone was just relaxed and having a nice time - [there was] school bonding.

Speaking of school bonding, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees, that was another exciting moment on the Bowdoin campus. Most everyone is a Red Sox fan either because they're a New Englander or it's just rubbed off on them, and to have the underdogs finally win and break the curse my senior year in college when I was in New England - it was really special.

What has been your favorite class?
I liked Contemporary Argentina, my freshman seminar. I am now a Latin American studies major and [that class] sort of opened the door. I studied it a little in high school Spanish classes, but [Contemporary Argentina] opened my eyes to this new interest that I hadn't realized I had. I studied away in Argentina because I took this class. I think my writing improved a lot, and I made friends. It's great to be in a class with only freshmen during freshman year - it's 16 people. I think Bowdoin can be really intimidating and [the freshman seminars are] a really good way to get in there and improve your skills and "learn how to learn" at Bowdoin.

I've loved taking classes in the dance department. For example, the other day I was having a horrible day and I went to dance, and while nothing had changed about the things that were upsetting me, the world was a nicer place after the class. It's a really great escape, and I love to perform.

I took ballet, tap, and jazz before Bowdoin and now at Bowdoin I'm doing modern dance. It's a great way to look at movement and be appreciative of different ways that people can move. I think it's really opened my eyes to looking at art in general.

Have you studied away during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied in Mendoza, Argentina with Butler University. It was the most amazing experience of my entire life. I got to travel around Argentina, and while the rest of the country was beautiful, Mendoza was by far my favorite place to live. It's a city with about a million people, but it seemed really small. I lived with a host family right downtown and I got to take the bus to school. It was fun to just experience a different culture from inside of it, and the food was great.

My parents came down for Christmas - they had been in the Peace Corps 35 years ago in Chile, and Mendoza is on the western edge of Argentina, right by the mountains, so it's only about eight hours from Santiago. We met in Copiapo, Chile, where they met in the Peace Corps, and that was the first time they had gone back [to Chile] in 35 years. I got to see where they had been, and they got to spend Christmas with my host family. It was a really fun way to wrap up my trip.

What are your plans after graduation?
I realized this summer that I would like to go into international education and work with a study abroad office. I would eventually like to get a master's degree in international education, but I need a break. International education can incorporate a lot of different things, but right now I'm primarily interested in the study abroad aspect of it. I think eventually I'd like to work in immigrant education, too.

[After graduation] I'd like to either go back to Latin America or look for a job in New York or Boston. I think I'm ready for a city - I like public transportation. I like the excitement. I'm from a really small town in Kansas and public transportation doesn't exist. I love to people-watch, so I love the idea of riding the train. You get to see so many interesting people on a subway or a "T." That's one thing that I loved about Argentina - that I had to ride the bus. Whenever you get on the bus, you never know if you're going to go where you want to go. It's always a gamble. But it's exciting!

Is there anything else about Bowdoin or your experiences here that you would like prospective students to know?
I think that when you're picking a school, people aren't lying when they tell you to go with your gut. Sometimes it's not a tangible thing that draws you to a school. You just have to go with what feels right and comfortable.

Also, I think that at Bowdoin, it's a process. I'm a lot better at being a Bowdoin student now than I was freshman year or even last year. Just remember that when you get here, things aren't going to be easy and it's not going to be perfect, but you'll get better at it. You might have to learn some things the hard way, but that's the whole point. It's such a great experience and there are so many opportunities here, so just throw yourself in, have fun and just appreciate every moment. I'm getting nostalgic realizing that I'm going to be leaving in about five months!

Story posted on November 10, 2004

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