The muddy banks of the Mississippi River don’t exactly compare to the sunny coasts of Australia, but Southeast Missouri State University student-athlete Hayley Abbott doesn’t mind calling Cape Girardeau home—for now.
In fact, besides missing her family, the ocean and Aussie food, Hayley loves the laid-back, warm-hearted Midwest.
Hayley, from a small coastal town, Narooma, located on the southeast corner of Australia, arrived in the United States in August 2009 to play soccer for the Redhawks while pursuing a degree in sports management.
“That’s something you can’t do in Australia—play a sport competitively as well as study at the college level. I love soccer, and it was something I couldn’t give up,” Hayley said.
So how did Hayley end up in southeast Missouri?
“One of my friends from Australia also attends Southeast, and she told me she really liked it, so I decided to come over,” she said.
Southeast’s influence isn’t just national anymore; it is reaching worldwide.
Hayley says the people she has met here made her adjustment into the Midwestern culture very easy.
“The people are so nice and welcoming, making it easier to be comfortable in your environment. Southeast is not very big and has a relaxed environment, and the professors and faculty are nice and friendly,” she said.
There were a few differences between Australia and America, however, that took some getting used to, one involving the game she loves.
“Australia and U.S. A. play different styles of soccer. Australia is a little more technical whereas the U.S.A. focuses more on the physical side of the game,” Hayley explained.
She also said Halloween her first year at Southeast was unforgettable, being the first one she had ever experienced.
Besides playing soccer for the Redhawks, Hayley is a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and works at the Student Recreation Centers.
Her favorite hobby is something she doesn’t get the opportunity to do often anymore, being landlocked.
“When I’m home, I like to go surfing. I lived by the ocean my whole life until now and have been surfing since before I can remember. So being away from the ocean for so long makes me eager for my next surf,” Hayley said.
The experiences she has had and the friendships she has made so far make this an opportunity Hayley encourages everyone to try.
“Study abroad if you can. Go for it! You have nothing to lose! It’s a really cool experience to learn about a different country and culture, and you make friends for life,” she said.