Natalie Vermeulen
Student Writer

Name: Caroline Olson
Year: Junior
Majors: Sustainability and Spanish

Meet Caroline Olson, a Messiah student full of lots of joy and many talents. You can find her studying sustainability, speaking Spanish or singing in Gospel Choir, but she’ll only be on campus for a few more months before heading to Chile next semester!

How did you choose your majors?

I came in as an environmental engineering student and quickly realized that I wanted to do something more holistically focused. Engineering felt too hardcore math and science for me, even though I love those. I wanted to do something more with anthropology and the humanities in general and still incorporate the environment, so I ended up in sustainability. And freshman year I was taking my Spanish gen eds and I loved it so much. Ginck was my inspiration and Professor Yunez was just the best. She laid out what it would look like if I added a major and I realized I could do it, so why not try it?

What are you most looking forward to about studying abroad (in Chile)?

I think being immersed in a completely different culture than I’ve ever experienced. I’ve only ever been to Central America, never South America. I’m also excited for the language learning. Hopefully I’ll experience a big learning curve because I think I’m at that point where I’m kind of intermediate level but I’ve plateaued, and I need that extra push to get me into actually speaking and using my Spanish. I’m really excited for that, but also really nervous.

What’s one story that stands out from your time in Central America?

I was there for J-term in Costa Rica, and all of the biodiversity there floored me. I think it has 5 percent of all biodiversity on Earth and it’s this tiny, tiny country, so that was unbelievable. There are plants and animals and bugs everywhere, which was so cool (so the nerd in me was coming out a bit). We had this one walk along the shore at Cahuita, the eastern shore of Costa Rica, and we walked in the jungle there and saw howler monkeys and really specific fun things that we learned about through a tour guide who we spontaneously met. He led us and pointed out snakes that we never would’ve seen, and some really cool spider we would’ve passed. And it was encouraging to see Costa Rica is actually one of the most sustainability-forward-thinking countries in the world. It’s run off of 100 percent renewable energy for three or so consecutive years now.

What’s something you like to do for fun?

I love being outside. My favorite place on Earth is New Hampshire, probably. I’m from Boston, and the White Mountains is our special place to go hike every summer.

What’s the last time you laughed really hard?

I laugh all the time. That’s definitely a thing I get from my mom, she never stops laughing. Yesterday some friends from this environmental class and I were swapping stories about times we’ve fallen in public and times we’ve publicly humiliated ourselves. My one friend has a knack for storytelling and she can make anything funny, but I was crying laughing when she was telling the story. It involved a bowl of cereal and bumping down the stairs after tripping over her cat. It was amazing.