Hecker native Tyler Haudrich always wanted to study abroad while in college, but never had the chance. So, he made it happen on his own.
During his sophomore year at Southeast Missouri State University, Haudrich applied for a program that was traveling to Australia. He was not selected.
“It just really, really intrigued me throughout the rest of my college experience,” he said.
After graduating, he did some research and decided in January 2012 to travel on his own.
“I didn’t have any car payments or house payments or anything like that, so I figured it was the perfect time to do it,” he said. “I basically set it all up on my own.”
He left home and spent the next several months abroad, living in Australia, Thailand and New Zealand.
“Being over there is all about networking and meeting new people,” he said. “You have to be very resourceful and independent.”
Haudrich spent nine months in Australia, three weeks in Thailand and seven weeks in New Zealand. Each of the countries was vastly different, he said.
“Australia is very laid back,” he said. “Thailand is very unique, because it’s a part of the world that should be visited more because the culture is very interesting. New Zealand was the cleanest country I’ve ever been to.”
Haudrich said during his time in New Zealand, he went on a three-day, four-night backpacking trip.
“You have to go from shorts and a T-shirt to winter clothes because you’re going to the top of a mountain,” he said.
Haudrich and his group traveled 30 miles over the course of four days. He only brought one canister for water on the 30-mile trek because the streams were clean enough to drink out of.
“The water actually tested more pure than bottled water,” he said. “It’s all filtered through the mountains.”
While abroad, Haudrich studied the agricultural industry, picking up jobs whenever and wherever he could.
He said the demand for workers in agriculture was high in the countries he visited, and he generally had no problems finding work.
“Everybody gets accustomed to the city life, and no one wants to move inland,” he said. “If you go three hours inland in Australia, it’s the middle of nowhere.”
Haudrich said he talked to a recruiter and was set up with a job on a potato farm in Australia.Together with their other son, Darryn, Dale and Kay Haudrich of Hecker ventured to Australia last July to visit their son, Tyler. While in Sydney, they quenched their thirst at the Hero of Waterloo, a local pub near the Harbor Bridge. (submitted photos)
“It’s definitely something I would never do around here,” he said. “Everything is pivot irrigated, so their fields are in circles — which is completely different from home.”
The other farm Haudrich worked on was a cattle station that was even further inland. Most of the Australian farms are not family farms, and are instead owned by corporations, he said.
“This farm was a publicly traded business,” he said. “It was the smallest farm in the company, but it was still 70,000 acres with 18,000 head of cattle.”
Haudrich said the hardest part of being abroad was learning to adapt.
“You learn to improvise when people are speaking, whether they’re people from Ireland, Germany or Denmark,” he said. “You learn to adjust to a different type of English.”
Haudrich came back home to Monroe County in December, and had to re-adjust to a completely different lifestyle than he’d been used to for the past year.
“When I was in New Zealand, the last part of my journey, I was hopping around from place to place every few days for seven weeks,” he said. “Coming back here and being in one place was no longer normal to me.”
The trip was unique to that of many Americans traveling abroad, he said.
“You don’t find very many Americans that go backpacking like I did,” he said. “I met maybe a handful (of Americans).”
Haudrich said he hopes someday to go back and travel Southeast Asia “properly” and visit countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam.
“I think I’ve seen more of Australia than I have of the United States,” he said. “It’s something I definitely want to do again.”