Despite all the things he’s looking forward to at Missouri State (like capturing a NCAA championship and working toward becoming an engineer), there is one thing he plans on not picking up while here: the Midwest twang.
“I talk to my friends back home occasionally on the phone, and the first thing I ask them is, ‘What does my voice sound like?’ I don’t want to pick up any twang,” he said with a laugh. “My voice is part of my individuality.”
“I was looking forward to living with some other people, not sure about sharing a room.”
Hayden is adjusting to living independently and in a new country. “I think I was prepared to live independently. I had been living at home for a year out of school, and I was ready to move out at that stage. I was looking forward to living with some other people, not sure about sharing a room though,” he said. “My roommate has been great, so I’ve had no problems there.”
Some days Hayden longs for a touch of home like a view of the ocean that surrounds his hometown of Wellington, New Zealand. “Food, family, familiar faces—there’s lots of things to miss. But at the same time, I might miss them one day and the next I’ll be having a ball meeting new people and seeing new things,” he said. “The longer I stay here the easier it’ll be.”
“There’s always an opportunity to meet new people.”
Although things are becoming more familiar, Hayden admits that it wasn’t always smooth sailing: “The first month was the hardest because of the culture shock. I didn’t know anyone’s names. I didn’t know who to trust. Who is your friend? Who wasn’t? But now, I’ve got a core group of friends that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Hayden is excited to expand that core group of friends. “I was talking to my mate the other day and told him that next semester was going to be cool. I’m going to have new classes, new people to talk to, new people to sit next to,” he said. “When you change classes, there’s always an opportunity to meet new people, which is cool.”
“I read the whole common reader in a 16 hour bus trip.”
With playing soccer, Hayden spent much of his first semester on the road, learning how to balance school and sports. “Learning to balance everything—studying, soccer, friends—because we traveled a lot this semester,” he said of his biggest challenge. “I always took homework to do on the bus and hotel but that didn’t really happen. The only time I’ve been productive on the bus was when we had to read the common reader. I read the whole common reader in a 16-hour bus trip.”
Through it all this semester, Hayden has set his eyes on his goals: helping his team win a NCAA championship and getting a professional degree, most likely in engineering.
Learn more about Hayden's first year at MSU via My Place at Missouri State.