Semester in Scotland studying, wielding axe gives Myers newfound sense of community

When Hastings College junior Anya Myers studied abroad at Dundee University in Scotland for the spring semester, she stumbled upon and joined a Medieval Reenactment Society, a club whose members reenact historical battles using accurate replica weapons from the time period.

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Anya Myers studied abroad at Dundee University in Scotland for the spring semester.

Myers, a history major, found herself wielding axes while donning armor to protect herself from the blows. She even bought a historically accurate Viking battle helmet.

While Myers participated in Hastings College Theatre, this experience was nothing like that, as members actually hit one another with the weapons as part of the act.

“I stumbled upon the society at a fair Dundee was hosting. I was intrigued, so I met with some members and immediately hit it off. They quickly convinced me to join, and I was happy to have a new community where I made many friends,” Myers said.

She would regularly train with other members to practice battling techniques for the shows. Myers said they had practice almost every day to ensure everyone knows how to handle and use the weapons — and to make sure their armor is worn correctly to prevent injuries. Even so, Myers said she would get so into playing her characters that she’d sometimes come home with bruises or a banged up finger from battling practice.

“Unfortunately, I got into a freak accident involving someone’s shield and my thumb, and I broke my thumb,” said Myers.

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Myers in the authentic Viking battle helmet she purchased, as well as her trusty axe and shield she donned for Medieval Reenactment Society practices and performances.

While the medieval battles were a great outlet and way to make friends, Myers inherited her love of history from her father, who spent time in his younger years before Myers was born studying in Germany, where he worked on his PhD dissertation in German history. Her family adopted Myers from Russia when she was a baby and brought her home to Overland Park, Kansas. As she grew, her father’s stories about his educational journey sparked her interest in historical-based study abroad.

When she first arrived at Hastings College she was eager to connect with faculty and staff to plan a study abroad experience to complete during her junior year. Dundee University is one of several Hastings College partner schools all over the world where students can spend a semester, and it seemed a good match for Myers.

Choosing Dundee was just the first step — after that she credits Hastings College in getting her prepared for such an involved international experience. She said moving to Hastings helped her become more independent and confident, and that she needed every bit of that when traveling by herself, learning the metro and navigating all the other things needed for living abroad in a place where she didn’t know anyone at first.

As the year came to an end, Myers said she appreciated her time in Scotland and brought with her more appreciation for her newfound community that she could call home.

“I’m leaving with a lot more memories and new friends. Having never participated in a group quite like the Medieval Reenactment Society before, it’s an experience I will cherish and keep with me for the rest of my life,” she said.

With a stronger sense of community for post-college life, Meyers said she will relate back to the many experiences she had while studying in Dundee, knowing she can use this newfound sense of community and independence to expand her horizon as she enters her senior year.

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