We decided years ago that we would celebrate our 30th birthdays in Italy. There were four of us – Lindsay Bass, Laura Cress, Kathryn Cushwa, and Lindsey Jones, Meredith alumnae from the class of 2004 – who took the trip in October 2012. Lindsay and Laura added a rendezvous in Croatia before meeting up with Kathryn and Lindsey in Anghiari, a small, hillside town in the Tuscan countryside. We spent one day visiting the Meredith College study abroad house in Sansepolcro, just 30 minutes away from Anghiari. Since three of the four of us were study abroad students at Meredith, we were excited to reunite with Dr. Betty Webb and Dr. John Rose and share experiences with the current study abroad students. After three days touring the Tuscan countryside, we hauled our overstuffed bags through four different trains to our next destination: the seaside town of Sorrento. From there we toured the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii before heading to Rome for final days of sightseeing. Overall it was an amazing trip and Meredith reunion, but each of us experienced it differently. Here our stories:
From Lindsay Bass, International Business major, lives in Raleigh, NC
Italy was my first international destination. I traveled there with the Meredith Abroad program when I was 19 years old. We stayed a month in the charming town of San Sepolcro, living in a monastery, learning the language, and befriending the locals. Now that I’m 30, I can’t believe how lucky I was. The small Tuscan town made a big impression on me, and I have wanted to go back ever since. I talked it up to my girlfriends for years, and I was thrilled that three of my best friends wanted to take a birthday trip to my favorite place in the world. It was a fantastic trip. Sometimes I let life get too hectic, loud, and complicated. The peace those rolling hills gave me on our trip is exactly what I had yearned for. And of course, the Italian cuisine is the best I’ve ever had. Perhaps Tuscany is my favorite place because it was the first place I visited internationally. Maybe it’s feeling connected to a world larger than myself. Maybe the wine goes to my head! It’s hard to put my finger on it, but the allure is irresistible. And the memory of celebrating this milestone with friends in Italy is precious to me.
From Laura Cress, Mass Communication and French majors, lives in Washington, DC
Despite the fact that I have studied and worked abroad twice in my life, in Western Europe no less, Italy remained a pending item on my ever-growing “Must See” list. I was slightly concerned that the country would not live up to all the hype, but I could not have been more wrong. I fell in love with absolutely everything about Italy, from the stunning landscapes to the beautiful language. The Italian people were fantastically gracious hosts as we wandered about their country, even friendly when the four of us plus luggage took up more than our share of space on the train during rush hour. We managed to eat a year’s worth of food in just ten days, and naturally acquired expanding waistlines to prove it (worth every bite!). The wine was plentiful, our laughter even more so, and I am confident the abundance of wonderful memories made with my Meredith sisters will sustain me for a lifetime. It was truly an incredible way to begin this new decade!
From Kathryn Cushwa, Psychology and Art major, lives in Raleigh, NC
I was the one of the four of us that did not study abroad while at Meredith. On this trip to Italy, I discovered it is never to late to travel and learn internationally. The following passage sums up what this trip means to me. It is from my journal and was written on the plane home: Looking back on the trip I don’t think I have a “favorite” part. Each experience was amazing in its own right. We had the perfect combination of countryside and seaside, food and wine, art and history, full busy days and relaxing days, beautiful views and welcoming Italians. With this being my first European trip it would have been easy to get caught up in trying to “tour” everything. Slowing down, staying in small towns and having conversations with locals helped me really appreciate the culture. I am so blessed to experience such a beautiful and amazing place with my best friends! I am thankful Meredith connected us so many years ago and I could not ask for better friends or a more amazing experience to start my 30th year of life!
From Lindsey Jones, International Studies major, lives in Washington DC
My favorite parts of the trip were swimming in the Mediterranean sea at sunset, eating so many variations of pasta and still wanting more, waking up among the medieval stone walls of our quaint apartment, and late nights catching up with the girls. I studied abroad while I was a student at Meredith, so seeing Dr. Webb and hearing about the Meredith study abroad programs added an unexpected dynamic. I knew I would feel reconnected to Meredith by being with my Meredith friends, however I didn’t expect the trip to bring back the life-changing memories of my study abroad experience.
Lindsay Bass, Kathryn Cushwa, Laura Cress and Lindsey Jones traveling through Italy in celebration of their 30th birthdays.