Category Archives: Dion

States: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Dion Stroot. His eleven month mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no (Aussie) Stroot has gone before.

You have found Dion’s area.

Lift Off

Leaving Perth
Leaving Perth (cudos to rhaynna for the photos

After last minute packing it was an emotional departure at Perth airport on Friday the 14th, Josh, Callum, Kelly and Rhyanna. Coming up to the departure I didn’t think it would be that difficult to say goodbye to them all, but I surprised myself. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

It wasn’t long afterward until Mum and I were picked up and brought back to Oma and Opa Thodis’s house and welcomed with some hot soup and a bed. The next day it was wake up, breakfast and straight to the Stroot’s fam bam where I was made jealous with all the awesome stories of Stroot

get togethers I’d missed out on by being in Perth, but I caught up with some good old Omanopoly, I was the proud owner of the Jonkman residences. It was good to know us cousins were still close after so long.

Stroots Rueunion
Stroot’s Reunion

After the many farewells, and gifting of an awesome Aussie Akubra from my uncle, it was off to the Thodis Party.

Mmm, tea
Mmm, tea

Seeing how much my little cousins, Lily and Katie, had grown was great, as was getting the chance to play hide and seek. I hid a bit too well in their playhouse,making them forfeit after 5 minutes. Then a mini tea-party with the bigger Thodis’ after dinner, many snaps were sent around.

Home again for my last good sleep of the next two weeks.

Waking up, quick breakfast and straight to Warrandyte to meet up with some old mates, we went trekking into the bush and took a detour in a cave, freaking each other out with the darkness. It was good catching up with them but lot has changed between us in the past 5 & 1/2 years.

A quick play in the park with the little ones, then home again for a Thodis dinner and final goodbyes after I packed.

Lily & Katie
Lily & Katie

When it came to leaving Dad and Oma behind at Melbourne airport, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but there was still much to come.

Mum and I arrived at Sydney airport at about 8:30 pm, and got to our crappy little airport hotel soon after, the bathroom was the size of a shower and my mattress didn’t fit to the end of the bed, but knowing I would spend the next two days on an airplane trying to sleep I cherished every last squeaky moment of that mattress getting some crash courses from the internet on American history.

Getting up the next morning at 4:30 am Western Australia time and 6:30 Sydney, Mum and I went for breakfast and found a strange machine in the hotel kitchen, Looking at it for a while I found that it made pancakes, 3 at a time. So after some mushy flapjacks and a cup of medicine tasting yogurt it was off to the airport yet again. Where the final goodbye to Mum took place as I walked into the enormous line leading into customs..

Leaving Sydney airport for LAX
Leaving Sydney airport for LAX

Being the closest to the airport and having gotten there the night before, the others expected me to be the first one on the plane. But the shuttle bus from the hotel left after they were all already there, then as I was going through the scanner, my water bottle popped up on the x-ray. It was the only thing in my bag that needed to be checked out so I assumed it would be a minute or two like normal. But it happens to be that the man in front of me, dressed in a weed leaf hoodie, refused to take off his beanie that sat bolt up at least 20 cm off his head. Then after inspecting his bag they found his personal metal herbal paraphernalia looking teacup in his carry on. Along with a screwdriver, spray on deodorant, nail clippers and a few other random things.

After a 20minute wait, I skulled the entire water bottle and hurried to the plane where Cobie was waiting for me and the 6 other scholars had already boarded.

  Walking throughout the gates without my parents it started to hit me that this was the beginning of my journey, and that a lot of things were going to be different when I got back.

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

I’m Dion; let’s get through the formalities before anything. The main reason I’ve begun blogging is to keep my friends and family up to date on my American scholarship experience, but also to keep as an artifact.

10 months without family, in an unknown country, with a new culture to adapt to. Sounds like an adventure!

I’m still yet to find out where I’m heading (and at which school I’ll start my temporary life) but I should find out some time in May this year. Then in August I’ll be leaving for the Australian orientation where I’ll meet the other 5 of the 7 Australian scholars, then finally to the international orientation in Boston. Coincidentally Cobie, another scholar from my school, was also accepted.

The Application

To get to this point I had to go through a selection process. The first stage of selection was the application; based on three criteria: Academic achievement and community involvement, while sporting also affecting your chances. Slotting into these well because of surf life saving and effort I’ve put into my schooling over the past years.

Spending time here and there after school to plan and draft my application essay during exam week and using my spare time to study the weeks leading up to it left me one week to dedicate to writing, reviewing, rewriting, editing, reviewing again, start another idea while I let it sit on my mind, and finalise the 1200 word tender selling myself. After getting through the first application process, I then had an interview with the Australian representative Alan Hutchison and and John Eidam mid November lasting 40 minutes. During the interview, which I was understandably nervous for, they asked questions about my application and many general ones to find what type of person I am. While still knowing there was only a small chance I’d be selected, it was cemented in my mind that I’d be living in America that time next year.

Somewhere close to Christmas I received the email I’d checked everyday for saying I’d been accepted into the program. Over the moon I hugged my parents and reassured my mum that I wouldn’t refuse to come back to stay with the American girl of my dreams.