Meet Aiden Winters

Program and Location:

Fall, NC State in Australia: University of Adelaide; Adelaide, Australia

Major/Minor:

Microbiology

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Study abroad has been something I’ve wanted to do from the moment I knew I wanted to attend university. I have always been inclined to travel and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to gain some independence and travel the world at the same time. I chose Adelaide in particular because one of my best friends who I had met while he was studying abroad at NCSU convinced me to come to his university for a semester. Having him and many other people I knew from Global Village in Adelaide was a huge factor in my decision to study there.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I really enjoy living independently. Living on campus at NCSU has many advantages; however, there is not a strong sense of independence that comes along with it especially because I live 15 minutes from my hometown. Having to coordinate my meals, pay my biweekly rent and utilities, and not having RA’s or other authority figures looking out for me really made me feel confident in my abilities to function as an adult.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I really enjoyed the NCSU orientation at the beginning of the trip. Having an NCSU faculty member to guide our first week in Adelaide was very nice and made for a good transition. We went to many iconic locations around Adelaide such as the wine region the Barossa Valley and the kangaroo park where we got to pet kangaroos.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

Make sure to go beyond the NCSU group that you attend with. I definitely met some amazing friends through the NCSU program that I plan to stay friends with, but making sure to actually interact with people outside of that is so important. Now I have a ton of friends in Adelaide that I look forward to visiting in the future.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

I plan to work in global public health in the future so any international experiences help to develop skills necessary for this job. While I was on my exchange I spent two weeks traveling Southeast Asia. I really want to work in tropical medicine so having experiences in areas like this will help prepare me for my future career. Along with this, I took a cultural anthropology course that really opened my eyes up to different cultures which will aid me in my plans for global health.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

I was very surprised about how hospitable Australians are. I had some issues with housing towards the end and my friend’s family let me live with them for the last month and a half of the trip. It was very kind.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

The classes are very different because they only run for twelve weeks and all lectures are recorded. Attendance is not mandatory and people often spend far less time at uni due to this. Final exams are much more serious there and will likely count for 40% or more of your grade.

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

My best experience that I had while in Adelaide regarding my sexuality was trying out a gay rugby team for a few weeks. When I first got to Adelaide I got a message about joining a rugby academy for gay men. I had never tried rugby before and I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet some people similar to me and try to learn a new skill. I tried it out for a few weeks and while it didn’t end up working out for me when it came to time and transportation, I did meet a really amazing community of people that helped guide my experience while there. This was the first time that I had a group of gay friends that I felt very comfortable with and similar to. This really made me feel a lot better about being in Adelaide. Other than my rugby team, my sexuality didn’t greatly affect my life there much. People there were very friendly and I actually felt like it was easier for me to develop close friendships with straight guys there than it is in the States.

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

I would recommend reaching out to the Adelaide Sharks and giving rugby a try! In all honesty, I kinda wish I would have stuck with the team a bit longer. It’s a great way to stay in shape and meet some cool people. The team was very new when I joined so I wasn’t going to be able to play in any real games which is a huge reason why I dropped.

Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?

Most of the support I found was with my friends. I felt very comfortable reaching out to both my rugby friends and other friends I had made. People in Australia are super friendly and I had so many people I felt comfortable with.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely!