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News Source: Los Angeles Loyolan (11th December 2007)
by Zach Bourque
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It was a musty, damp afternoon. Our small dingy airplane pulled into the Cairns International airport amidst the lush, bright green foliage surrounding the area. As our small army of Australearn study abroad students made their way off of the plane and onto the airport runway, it was ridiculous to think we finally had made it to the great down under. A land of kangaroos, koalas and that pesky dingo. A land of Russell Crowe, AC/DC, and of course, the quintessential Australian, Mr. Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin.

Then, as we were getting our bags from the baggage claim area, I think I speak for everyone when I say that amidst the humid air, our friendly Aussie orientation leaders and overall ambiance of foreigners, no one expected what came next. As I was waiting to get my bag, a commotion began to my immediate left.

As I turned around, I witnessed a small crowd starting to gather outside around an old fashioned looking Toyota 4-Runner. On the short walk over, I heard various grumbles about "Steve Irwin" juxtaposed against the phrase "outside right now." No way in hell.

Sure enough, sitting in his 4-Runner outside, was none other than the Crocodile Hunter himself, Mr. Steve Irwin. The enormous crowd around the car prohibited me from shaking his hand, but if the opportunity had presented itself, I would have.

Studying in Australia always proved to be full of exciting surprises. Four months filled with the best boxed wine in the world, amazing surfing at beaches straight out of "Endless Summer II," and of course, having the first real Australian we witnessed be Steve Irwin, just one short week before his death. The land down under proved to not just instill a neverending personal affinity for Vegemite, but also a wonderful cultural experience that made me realize how us unhappy, pessimistic Americans can learn a thing or two from the world's happiest nation, the blokes and sheilas of the great land of OZ.

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