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Scott Vignos' Australia Journal

Junior Scott Vignos will spend this fall term on an off campus program in Australia offered through the School for International Training (SIT). Along the way, he'll share his experiences through weekly journal entries and photos. His program, titled "Australia: The Multicultural Society," offers him the chance to study with a group at Melbourne University, where academic lectures are supplemented with organizational briefings and site visits. He'll live with a family for the first part of the program, then do an independent study project in another part of the country.

  • November 18: Victoria Drop-off

    November 23, 2004

    Bill the director pulls out a hat brimming with slips of paper printed with country Victorian towns. One by one we draw out locales: Castlemaine, Alexandra, Yea, Achuca, and I draw Mansfield. The Victoria drop-off marks the beginning of our independent study. Independently we each must venture into rural Victoria for a weekend to grasp what it is to be a country Aussie.

  • November 5: Beautiful Sydney

    November 5, 2004

    The last leg of our trip was to Sydney, the seat of New South Wales. For many who visit Australia, Sydney is the first and last stop. A city of four million, it sits on Port Jackson Harbor, which many consider to be the world’s most beautiful. Flying into Sydney Airport, shimmering fingers of the harbor reach out in all directions, dotted with sailboats, and lined with mansions. The weather is usually sunny and fine, cultural landmarks abound, and Manly and Bondi Beaches are world-renowned. Syndey is the unfortunate cause of Melbourne’s mild inferiority complex.

  • October 24: Camping at Uluru

    October 24, 2004

    At first, I tried to pretend the flies were like Minnesota mosquitoes. Unfortunately it didn’t work—mosquitoes don’t dive bomb your mouth, eyes and ears at every opportunity.

  • October 10: Alice Springs

    October 15, 2004

    Bill, our director, calls Alice “Disney World meets the Third World.” Everywhere I look, Indigenous Australia shines through the cracks that the new K-mart, Pizza Hut, and tourism try to cover up. So this is the cultural hardship that our lectures referred to.

  • October 5: 'Real' Australia

    October 5, 2004

    The magnitude of Aboriginal history in Australia hadn’t struck me until that point. The previous week was filled with lectures about the destruction of Indigenous peoples throughout Australia—assimilation programs and refusal of the present government to say sorry for their mistakes. Despite this, the context of the situation wasn’t clear until I found myself in a room holding literally millions of objects still belonging to their Aboriginal owners. I started to feel very pessimistic about a history that wasn’t my own.

  • September 28: Family Life

    October 1, 2004

    The Andrews family grows with my weekly discoveries of a new son or daughter or cousin. At last count, I’ve met two boys and three girls, though I’m told two other brothers live in Brisbane. This does not account for the hundreds of cousins I’m convinced exist with Melbourne itself. On every trip to the market or milkbar, a new cousin is introduced. They are old and young, but all wave to Jim, usually before he recognizes whom he is waving back to.

  • September 14: First Day of Class

    September 20, 2004

    I prepared for my first day of class at the kitchen table the night before. An array of Melbourne maps spread out before me, displaying varying levels of detail: a city map with arrows pointing to important sites, a public transportation map abstractly noting which trams, trains and buses stopped where and when, a map marked with the main roads by my house, and a map of the University with a purple ‘X’ marking the corner where I needed to arrive at 9 the next morning.

  • September 9: First Impressions

    September 9, 2004

    I could’ve been in California. Eucalyptus trees rose next to the roads and a morning fog rolled back to the harbor as the sun moved higher in the sky. But as we pulled into the Boy Scout camp in Gembrook Park, the similarities were put on hold.

  • August 28: On-campus farewell party

    August 28, 2004

    In the morning, I’ll catch a flight to Los Angeles, before boarding a plane bound for Melbourne, Australia, to start my study abroad program. Tonight though, we’ve managed to get everyone together in Northfield for a "Happy Trails" Barbeque. An end-of-summer hurrah to say goodbye before collectively scattering to the wind.

  • Itinerary

    August 27, 2004

    Scott's itinerary for fall term in Australia.