Wild Kangaroo Sightings in Yanchep National Park

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Yanchep National Park, known for its cave systems and koala colonies, was only a hop, skip, and a jump away from where we were staying, so we decided to do a day of exploration there.
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Surrounded by silly looking lumpy birds with bright red beaks, we started by the lake, which was entirely dried up due to the dry season. (It did not rain once during our entire Australia trip).

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We beelined over to the Koala enclosure to check off a quintessential auction item from our Aussie to-do list: see a koala!!

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Hanging with the Fishes

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The Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) was only a 45 minute drive away from us, ( more rental car left-side driving adventures!), and is the largest aquarium in all of Australia, complete with a walk-through underwater tunnel and lots of scary-looking critters, so we had to go check it out!

Exploring the underwater tunnel:

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After exploring the pretty, cutesy areas, we entered…

The Danger Zone

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I Wouldn’t Survive Long Alone

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Sitting in the living room after having just eaten a large home-cooked meal, the three of us contentedly focus on our own activities as we digest—Kate puzzles away at a large, almost entirely monochromatic puzzle, Valerie self-indulges in some young adult fantasy fiction, and I half-heartedly read my CFA prep book with glazed-over eyes. We are like an old married triple, each happily invested in our own hobby, and that’s when we hear it.  A big thump from downstairs.

Immediately, Kate’s and my eyes widen in fear and we look at one another for confirmation as to what we have both just heard. Valerie, engrossed in her poorly written but nonetheless entertaining novel, notices nothing. The two of us, on the other hand, continue our frightened staring contest, hearts racing as our imaginations take hold.

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I’m Moving to Hong Kong!

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Kung Hei Fat Choy!! Happy Chinese New Year! 恭喜发财!

(And a very belated one)

It’s a few days past the end of Chinese New Year and officially a year since I first traveled to Hong Kong. Last January, I was right in the middle of the hubbub, haggling in the markets for Year of the Snake decorations to put in the apartment and picking out elaborate cards to send to family and friends. Now, as we welcome the Year of the Horse, I am back sitting in my dorm at school sending Chinese New Year e-cards to my future employers, who live in Hong Kong. Yes, that means I am moving to Hong Kong after graduation. A lot has changed in the past year!

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Finding Entertainment in the Ghost Town Called “Two Rocks”

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We journey to Two Rocks, a small town about 20 minutes north of Yanchep, with a set mission for the day: to eat our first ever fish n’ chips.  Unfortunately, the plan is foiled when we realize upon arrival that the one fish n’ chips restaurant in Two Rocks does not open for another two hours, and this “town” does not have much else in it to help us pass the time. Not ones to give up easily, we begin to wander around aimlessly and soon stumble upon the weirdest collection of statues ever.

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Making a Fool of Myself Yoga-Style

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Our lazy days at Yanchep typically involve waking up early and running down along the beach before beginning our touristy activities. Since I am far from being an expert runner, heck, even an intermediate one, I dabble more in the slow jog territory, while Kate, our resident track star, will sprint ahead and then double back, bouncing up and down right in front of me, waiting for me to catch up and already eager to run some more. Huffing and puffing out a few words at a time, I will attempt to gossip and tell her stories for a spell, but will soon throw my hands up in the air (metaphorically speaking, since I am typically too tired for any unnecessary actions and barely pumping my arms by this time), and give up. “Maybe…you..should…tell…the stories!” I will wheeze and then she’s off, chatting away, running and talking at the same time effortlessly. And so goes our symbiotic running relationship.

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Caroline Meets an Aussie

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Having picked up our third and final member of the pack at the airport, we drive back to Yanchep, a small fishermen’s village about an hour north of Perth where we will be spending the next week. Donning our bathing suits as soon as we arrive at the house, we frolic down to the beach to give our pasty, sun-deprived bodies the vitamin D they deserve. After plunking myself down on a towel and whipping out a chic-lit beach read I found in the house, I bury myself in its predictable cookie-cutter storyline. When my two friends go back up to the house a little later on for a bite to eat, I can’t be torn for my book, so while they pack up and trek up the sand dunes, I continue flipping pages. Listening to the soothing rhythm of the waves slapping against the shore and deeply engrossed in whether my book’s female protagonist is going to get the guy (even though I know the girl always does in these types of books), I am in my own little world, so I barely catch the words of a man walking by when he says something along the lines of “mumble, mumble, g’day, shrimp on the barbie, seaweed.”

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Help, What’s the Metric System?

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After rendezvousing with my friend Valerie at her hotel and sprucing up a bit, we headed out into the hot streets of Perth to locate food and rental cars, practicing our left-hand side sidewalk walking against a sea of pedestrians and trying not to get run over as we crossed double-lane streets with traffic coming from the (relatively) wrong direction.

We meandered over to Bayswater, the car rental place where we had booked a car in advance. Preparing to rent our first car ever, we, as uneducated Americans who have never driven on the left side of the road, marched into the rental place full of bluster and acted very car-educated, how ever one does that, to disguise our entire lack of left-side car-driving capability. Valerie ruined our act when she asked what a liter was. Hearing our accents and observing our lack of knowledge regarding the metric system, the people behind the desk immediately knew something was up and eyed us a bit suspiciously as they answered, “it’s a unit of measurement. Four and a half liters is equal to one gallon. ”

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The Bird Flies Business Class

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After a 15 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, one where I had a bad case of restless leg syndrome and had forgotten to download all the books and tv shows I had purchased in advance to my ipad, I entered Hong Kong airport, a bit smelly and disheveled, with a face that had all its makeup evaporated and with hair that had frizzed and frazzed in every which way. The flight had been delayed by an hour and a half and I was afraid I was going to miss my connecting flight, so when I emerged from my airplane hibernation, blinking dumbly in the bright lights of the terminal, and spotted my name on a sign, “Davis-CarolineFowler. Contact Ground Authority”, I thought, “crap, I missed my flight.”

I bumbled over slowly to a lady dressed in Cathay Pacific’s fancy airline garb and standing near my name sign to receive the bad news. “Hm, yes, hi, that’s me. I’m Caroline.” I grumbled. “Oh, hello CarolineFowler! Here is your new ticket!” She chimed enthusiastically.

“Darn, okay, so I missed the other flight?”

“No, we are just changing your ticket, here you go. Have a nice flight!”

“Ah yes, ticket change, right,” I mumble to myself as I walk away. Is she being sarcastic? Confused, I look down at my “new” ticket. Same flight, same departure time, so why did I get a new ticket? And then I see it…

BUSINESS CLASS.

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One More Continent Checked Off the List

Every year, Harvard gives its students the full month of January off, so after all the hubbub of final exams, Christmas, and New Year’s has died down, we find ourselves with a whole month of downtime, with no exams to study for and no projects to complete. Many students take this time to simply laze and veg out; others find a month-long internship or school-provided activity to do. I personally like to use this time to travel.

Two “J-terms”, as we call this break, ago, I traveled down to Kigali, Rwanda, where my eldest sister Elizabeth runs a non-profit school for women, and my other older sister, Mary Patton, was moving to start a new career. For a month, I lived with Dave, Elizabeth’s fiancé, Elizabeth, and Mary Patton, traveling about the city and helping out at the school, learning some basic Kinyarwanda and attempting to bargain in the markets.

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Page 217 of my 300 page autobiography– the written portion of my UPenn Application

Today, I’ve been backing up all the files on my computer in preparation for exams and stumbled upon my high school folder of college applications, so I’ve been reading old essays I wrote. Below is the 1-pager I wrote for UPenn’s prompt: “You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

Looks like I haven’t changed much, minus the vegetarianism:

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that my results for the “Are You Left- or Right- Brained” Test were pretty balanced, 16 to 14, much to the annoyance of my classmate, who was seeking results for a psych class project. The results made perfect sense to me though. I love my math class, Calculus BC, because the calculations are reliable. As long as I’ve memorized the equation and understand the concept, I can’t go wrong. I’m always either right or wrong- no middle ground. So my preference for the absolute makes me left-brained, doesn’t it?

But I also love Chinese…and for entirely different reasons. Mandarin, unlike Spanish or French, has no verb conjugation, no past tense. I can invert sentence order and still be understood, regardless of whether I say, “give me the book” or “the book give me.” The spontaneity and lack of order surrounding the Chinese language is thrilling. But wouldn’t my preference for a language without restraints categorize me as a right-brainer?

Is my balanced brain an oddity in a community obsessed with labeling students as either “arsty” or “mathy”?

Do I contradict myself? I puzzle over Sudoku, pencil in hand, the numbers 1 through 9 whirling in my head, then turn on classical music, make a pot of green tea, and write a monologue for drama class. I fill out the cryptoquotes in the newspaper, cracking code to find the quote of the day, and then grab needle and thread to sew a handbag from old t-shirts.

Wouldn’t the fact that I’m in the computer programming class immediately classify me as a nerd? I can recite the correct set-up for any program written in Java. “ {public static void main (String[] args){ System.out.println (“TYPE INFO HERE.”);}” Yet I’m also vegetarian. I eat quinoa, couscous, and tofu, cook with coconut oil and agave nectar, and refuse to eat high-fructose corn syrup. So do I now fall into the class of “Artsy Earth Lover”?

And why am I bothered by a silly psychology survey anyways? Maybe I should take the class to

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Gotta love creative prompts!

Bombings at The Boston Marathon

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It’s hard to understand why terrible things happen. Why they happen to other people and not you. And why sometimes, that annoying inconvenience of your day is what ends up being your biggest blessing.

I was supposed to go to the Boston Marathon today. I was supposed to go watch my roommate run across the finish line, alongside all my other roommates, holding signs and wearing silly t-shirts. But I didn’t go. I got the 24-hour bug and stayed in bed all day.

At 3 pm, I pulled myself together and went to a meeting that would determine next year’s housing. At 3:15,  I sent a quick text to my roommates informing them of the room we would be living in together for our senior year.

And then at 3:18, I  exited the meeting room and walked into the main hall, into a crowd of people all standing in dead-silence. Continue reading

Empowering Women to Lead: Sheryl Sandberg Speaks at Harvard

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Stand up if you have ever said any of these words OUT LOUD:

          “I am going to be #1 in my field.”

          “I am going to be the CEO of a company.”

          “I am going to be the president of an organization.”

This is how Sheryl Sandberg, current COO of Facebook and past VP of Global Online Sales and Operations for Google, started her speech last week on Harvard campus. As I stood up, I looked around the packed theatre, and to my surprise, only about Continue reading

La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy): Surviving the Absinth Depot

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The Absinth Depot is a funky little shop in Berlin that offers over 100 different types of absinth.  Stepping into the store felt like being transported into a different time and day, surrounded by old floral wall paper, antique furniture, and dusty, old glass bottles covering every inch of wall space.

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Although wormwood, the ingredient in absinth that causes the hallucinations, is illegal– so you won’t find any wormwood in absinth bought in the states– this store Continue reading