By DELLA PREAS
A few months ago, six students, including myself, and a professor from the University of Mary Washington traveled to the United Kingdom. Our destinations: Edinburgh, Scotland and Bangor, Wales.
When I signed up for this trip after hearing about it through the UMW Abroad website, the only thing I was really thinking about was the fact that I would finally be traveling to the UK, something I have wanted to do my whole life. I was not thinking about the people I would get to know, or the skills that I would develop on this trip.
We toured castles in both Scotland and Wales, and learned a lot about the history of both countries as we went. We took a class at Bangor University, where we began to develop the idea for a video game. In Wales, we came up with the idea for our game.
The class we were taking was on interactive, multimedia gaming and our end-goal was to create our own game. We spent many days brainstorming about what kind of game we wanted to make and what kind of story we wanted to tell.
We pulled from all we had learned while visiting castles like Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, deciding to base our game on the one thing that connects these places, Mary, Queen of Scots. Each castle we visited in Scotland seemed to have hosted Mary at some point in her short, tragic life.
Over the three weeks we spent “across the pond,” the fact that I had finally gotten to the UK began to get eclipsed by how much of a good time I was having. A big part of the success of this trip turned out to be the fact that we had a small group. Due to that, we all got to know each other pretty well by the end. We also found that we worked very well together, which is what has held us together these few months after the trip.
Ever since we returned in July, we have been hard at work designing the game and figuring out how to put it all together. With weekly meetings and a lot of communication, we have been able to create something we are very proud of and are excited for other to play.
Other than being able to say that I have both traveled to the UK and helped create a game, two things I thought I would never get to do, I believe the best thing that came from my experience abroad is the fact that I was given the chance to form bonds with people I may have never gotten the chance to meet otherwise. I was happily surprised that after returning I kept in contact with everyone.
Traveling abroad is the best thing I have been able to do in college. For anyone thinking about going on their own study abroad adventure, the only advice I would give them is to not only focus on the places around them, but to get to know the other students on the trip. They might just make your experience even better, like they did for me.