The Month of Exploration

10 Feb

It is not often that most of us are able to take 20 minutes out to reflect on the passing days and coming weeks. I, for one, have surely been unable to stop and think about everything that has happened to me over the past month. However, as I sit here in the biblioteca (library) of the school in Sevilla, España that I have been attending, I begin to recognize just how many firsts and how many challenges the past month has brought to me.

From losing my luggage, to not understanding anything that was said to me, to taking a French Class in Spanish, to contracting the Flu, and to taking my first online course, I have been hit with everything over the past month. All of these challenges seemed enough for me to want to be on the first flight back to normalcy, but I have come to realize that it is because  all of these  challenges that my past month has been one so filled with discovery and adventure.

I came into both the exchange program in Spain and into this AP US GOV online course with very few expectations. I truly had no idea how I would get through one of them, let alone both at once. However, I can assure you all that I have been pleasantly surprised.

I have been so greatly enjoying having all day, every day filled with learning. My mornings are filled with the exploration of the Spanish culture, and the afternoons are filled with the exploration of my home. However, I will admit that bringing myself to study when the weather is 68 degrees and the sun is shinning, can be quite difficult, but my fascination with political science drives me to look forward to coming home from school everyday and learning something new about the United Sates Constitution while working with girls across America.

Because of AP GOV, over the past month, I have developed a true appreciation and respect for the strength, beauty, and vitality of the United States. I feel so privileged to be able to continue my passion of studying political science in the midst of learning about a new culture. There is also always a certain feeling of accomplishment every time I am able to press Hand In or Post on the Haiku Page. For me, being hours ahead and still able to press “post” on time is proof that I am able to challenge myself, even in the oddest and the most difficult of circumstances.

Both the AP GOV online course and the exchange program  in Spain are such unique opportunities and challenges that I  can honestly say, even within the past month I have grown  so much as a person and as a student. I am truly looking  forward to seeing what the coming months bring me in both learning more about our government, while at the same time exploring more about the culture of Spain.


Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Learning


22 responses to “The Month of Exploration

  1. jackieosg2012

    February 10, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Hey Julienne, I think it’s so cool that you’re doing a study abroad. I always wanted to do one, and had actually applied at one point. But, alas, it didn’t work with my schedule. You must be having such a great time this year with so many new experiences.

    Your perspective on learning about the awesomeness of the US is really interesting. Not only are you living in another country, which probably gives you a newfound appreciation for our country, but you’re also learning about our country’s revolutionary government.

    This year must be a real challenge, but still, I’m jealous!

    • Julianne

      February 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Hello Jackie,

      Thank you so much for your response! I truly am so fortunate that everything worked out, especially during senior year, in order for me to participate in this exchange. I am certainly having an amazing time, and everyday is a new experience for me.

      You are absolutely right; living in Spain for the past month has given me a newfound and very deep respect for our country. To be honest, I never even thought about the possibility of learning so much about the United Sates while in another country; it’s pretty neat.

      It has definitely been a challenge, but I am enjoying every minute of it.

      Thanks again for your comment.


  2. Ross Mannell

    February 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Hello, Julienne.

    On reading your post it makes me wish such exchanges were offered when I was still a student. They are marvelous ways to learn about other cultures and histories by being on the spot. While I may have never had the chance to personally experience such changes, a number of students I have taught while they were young have gone on to enjoy exchange experiences.

    From the details of your trials on first arriving in Spain, I can see not all ran smoothly. What we must remember is it’s life’s little tribulations and events that can help to make us strong. A life full of smooth running doesn’t challenge us to exceed our known abilities. One point I admire most is your lack of Spanish on arrival and what must have been a steep learning curve in order to understand and be understood. I have a chance to comprehend if I see something written in Spanish but would be lost if it were spoken.

    Enjoy every moment you can. The memories you make now will last a lifetime and make you greater appreciate home.

    Teacher, NSW, Australia

    • Julianne

      February 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Hello, Mr. Mannell.

      Thank you for your post! I can honestly say that I have never learned more in just one month than I have during my time in Sevilla. You are absolutely right; participating in an exchange is certainly a marvelous way to learn about other cultures and histories.

      I am strong my belief that the challenges I have experienced during the past month will be what make my experience so much greater in the end. When I first arrived in Spain, I too could only read the language. However, after one LONG month, I am proud to say that I am now able to both understand and speak it fairly well.

      Also, what you said about life’s little tribulations really spoke to me, and I am going to carry that quote with me throughout my time in Spain because it is so true.

      Thanks again for your comment; I really appreciate it.


  3. hannahlat

    February 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Hey Julienne, I was actually just in Sevilla over winter break to visit my sister who was studying abroad for a semester! She studied in Granada, but our family visited Sevilla. It was so gorgeous! Like Jackie, I’m incredibly jealous of your senior year. You must have so many amazing stories!

    • Julianne

      February 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Hey, Hannah!

      Thank you so much for your response! You and your family must have had so much fun. I absolutely agree; Sevilla is such a gorgeous city. Were you able to visit Granada too?

      This exchange has made my senior year so much more than I could have ever imagined, and I certainly have some amazing stories.

      Thanks again for your post!


  4. Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs)

    February 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    What a wonderful opportunity you have this semester, and it sounds like you are taking full advantage of it.

    I am a teacher of American history, with some government, of 8th graders. The students are young, so my class is nothing like your AP online course. I do enjoy studying government too. It would be interesting to study American government from another country. I am sure you will see a side of America that we never do.

    Best wishes to you in Spain. Enjoy the beautiful weather! Good luck on your online course too.

    Denise Krebs

    • Julianne

      February 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Hello Ms. Krebs,

      Thank you so much for your response! I remember loving eighth grade American History, but yes, you are right, it is nothing compared to an AP online course.The course has certainly been quite challenging.

      I truly believe that my being on this exchange has opened my eyes to another side of America that I had never seen. It has also allowed me to discover a new depth to the pride and respect I have for my country.

      Thanks again for your comment, it is very much appreciated.


  5. dbambi

    February 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Well as everyone else has stated, I am quite jealous that you are studying abroad, but so happy that you were given this opportunity while in school. A question though I had was whether you compare the Spanish and the US ways of governing? Since you are learning them at the same time, have you noticed that there are more similarities then differences?

    • Julianne

      February 13, 2012 at 7:26 am


      Thank you so much for your response! To be honest, I have not directly studied the Spanish government; however, I have been able to pick up on ideas while watching the Spanish news.

      To answer your question, I have noticed a few similarities, but there are also a few distinct differences. For example, Spain has a king and queen and a President. According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Government is considered to be a “parliamentary democratic constitution monarchy.” There are also local governments in the different regions of Spain.

      So, as you can see there are a few differences in it being a monarchy, and a few similarities in it also being a democracy with local governments. At times I do find myself comparing the strengths of the government, and have come to the conclusion that I cannot compare any form of government to the one we, as Americans, have. I look forward to continuing to learn more, over the next few months, about the Spanish Government.

      Thanks again for your comment and questions.


  6. Paul Monheimer

    February 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Hey Julianne,
    Your post reminds me of when I studied US government while in Germany. As you learn about the US Constitution, consider its implications for Spain. Do Spaniards have the same rights as Americans? Protected the same way? Are there Spanish rights Americans do not enjoy? How is the Spanish Constitution
    different from the American one. Do Spanish students ever learn about the US Constitution? How are those lessons presented? Enjoy your immersion into another culture.

    Paul Monheimer

    • Julianne

      February 13, 2012 at 6:58 am

      Hello, Mr. Monheimer.

      Thank you so much for your response. You bring up some excellent questions, and I am certainly going to do a bit of research so I can learn even more. I am really interested to know how different, or even how similar, the Spanish and American Constitutions are. I will also have to ask some of my classmates if they have ever studied the US Constitution.

      Thanks again for your post, and for the questions you have presented me with.


  7. Heather Mannella

    February 13, 2012 at 6:52 am


    What a wonderful perspective that your time in Spain, and taking this AP Gov class at the same time has given you. To be able to directly compare different government and legal systems by actually being there to see the differences must be eye opening.

    I had no idea how challenging your first weeks are in Spain. You certainly have been through alot! And I am sure come out of it all with stories to last a lifetime! I can’t wait to hear them =)

    • Julianne

      February 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Hello, Heather!

      Thank you so much for your response. It is so nice to see a familiar face commenting on our blog.

      I truly am so lucky to have been given this unique perspective, and I can assure you that I will carry it with me forever.

      Yes, the first few weeks were certainly challenging, but when I look back on them, I do laugh and realize that the challenges are part of the adventure. I have plenty of stories to share with everyone at Westover, and I look forward to coming back and sharing them with you all.

      Thanks again for your comment, Heather! Send my love to Westover.


  8. michbishop

    February 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Julianne, my name is Michael and I’m a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. Having traveled abroad with my senior class I know you will be receiving an amazing perspective into how other countries operate within their government and the rights given to the citizens of that nation. I could not imagine having to take a French class in Spanish though, I had enough trouble taking German and Spanish in English. I am amazed by your resiliency during your trip. Having faced many trials from the flu to having to communicate in a foreign language in a nation where you are an outsider and overcome these obstacles is a great learning experience and shows that you are an excellent student. I continue to hope that you learn amazing things during this trip and enjoy it above all else.

    • Julianne

      February 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Hello, Michael!

      Thank you so much for your post. It’s great to know that there are other people out there who have been able to experience something like this.

      Thanks again for your kind words!


  9. Jeni Stovall

    February 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Hello Julianne!
    My name is Jeni Stovall and I am from Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class as well. I am glad that you are learning now that you need to study even when you want to just be outside enjoying the great weather. It is a lesson I learned later in life and wish I would have had at your age. I also want to tell you how proud I am of you for taking on an online class at the same time that you are learning about a new culture through first hand experiences. I am not even brave enough to take on an online course right now because the temptation to put off the work until the last minute always gets me. I hope that you have a great time in Spain and a great rest of the semester!

    • Julianne

      February 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

      Hello, Jeni!

      Thank you so much for your response. Learning that I need to study despite the nice whether was certainly a difficult lesson, but I am glad I have been able to learn it now, rather than later.

      I really appreciate all of your nice thoughts. Thanks again for commenting!


  10. AllenMichael Boasten

    February 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Hello Julianne!

    Hi there another student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 Class. My name is AllenMichael. It is great to see how you have over came many obstacles in reaching your ultimate goals. Being positive throughout the whole process is a great way to continuously handle the troubling task as they present themselves. You have a great opportunity ahead of yourself and it is good to see that you are willing to make the most of it. I hope that you will continue to succeed, best wishes.

    Sincerely, AllenMichael

    • Julianne

      February 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

      Hello, AllenMichael!

      Thank you so much for your response. Remaining positive has certainly been a challenge, but looking back I am so glad I was able to, for it has made the adventure that much better.

      I really appreciate all the support and wishes. Thanks again for commenting!


  11. Natalie

    February 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Hello, Julianne!

    I’m so excited to have stumbled upon your blog post simply because I can relate! This past summer, I studied in San Sebastian for a little over two weeks and it was one of the best times of my life and I’m glad to see you’re enjoying it as well! Spain is absolutely beautiful and a great learning environment as you pointed out.

    I found your ability to stay on task with your work in AP Gov very admirable as well. I’m a government student at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, TX, and I understand the sometimes frustrating aspects of combining technology with academic studies. I was wondering, what is your take on the modern combination? Do you think it is an effective way to learn?

    Personally, I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts online on sites such as Twitter, Blogspot and the blogs of students’ around the nation. I find it an excellent way to maintain interest in the classroom seeing as the majority of young people can navigate their way around the internet.

    I hope you have enjoyed yourself in Spain! It sounds like you have truly learned a great deal.

    Natalie Johnston

    • Julianne

      February 29, 2012 at 7:50 am

      Hello, Ms. Johnston!

      Thank you so much for your response. I am so glad to hear that you too were given such an amazing experience. I have heard San Sebastian is beautiful.

      For me, the combination has taught me a lot about modern technology, and I have really enjoyed feeling as though I have all the information in the world right at my finger tips. Like you have said, there are so many different tools like Twitter, VoiceThread, WordPress, Google Docs, that all make learning so much more exciting and effective.

      Thanks again for your comment.



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