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Jenkins MAC Friends Travel to Europe Together to Celebrate Graduation 

MAC friends on a summer trip to Switzerland

Not long after Noel Menzi (MAC ‘23) started the Jenkins MAC program at NC State, he and a handful of other students started talking about traveling Europe together and visiting Menzi’s home near Zurich, Switzerland. It seemed like a distant dream, at first – but nine months later, after completing the MAC program, the group of friends boarded a plane and began their three-week adventure.

“By winter break, we had become close friends and still met almost every day – even without having class. One day, we started talking again about our idea of traveling to Europe, and within a couple weeks, we started discussing our preferred destinations and booking our post-graduation trip.”

Menzi was joined by Jenkins MAC alumni Sarah Lamm, Karmen Idol, Kaitlyn Moss, Mackenzie Green, Megan Hurley, Ian Smith, Nathan Oldja and Matthew Pierson.

First up on their itinerary was Berlin, where they admired paintings on the Wall of Berlin, saw the Brandenburg Gate, explored Berlin Cathedral and visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Next, the group headed to Amsterdam, where they toured the Anne Frank Haus, visited the Van Gogh Museum and enjoyed walks around the city’s canals and in Vondelpark.

“We then flew to Zurich and took the train to Maennedorf, the small town outside of Zurich where I grew up. We stayed with my family for five nights to meet my parents and brother. We were welcomed with a fantastic dinner, Swiss Spaetzli, and chocolate mousse for dessert,” Menzi says.

In Switzerland, the group visited Lucerne, grilled out with some of Menzi’s Swiss friends, swam in Lake Zurich and went on two hikes: one to Seealpsee, an alpine lake in the Appenzell region, and another to Stoos and to the world’s steepest funicular railway.

“On the mountain, we did the ridge hike from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock, where we had an amazing view for the full hike of three hours,” Menzi said. “We also stayed in one evening to enjoy one of the most famous Swiss dinners, the Raclette – melted cheese over potatoes.”

From Switzerland, the group took a five-hour train ride through the Swiss Alps to Italy, where they relaxed in Genova and saw some of the main sights in Florence. They ended the journey in Lisbon, Portugal, where they saw the Belém Tower, visited the ocean and went to Sintra. 

“The trip gave us the chance to spend lots of quality time together outside of the classroom and Raleigh while learning more about other cultures,” says Kaitlyn Moss (MAC ‘23). “Visiting different countries with such a great group of friends allowed for a lot of really great bonding moments and allowed us to grow in our knowledge of the world around us, as well as our understanding of one another as individuals. We truly created memories that will last a lifetime and ones that we can tell our kids about one day.”

We truly created memories that will last a lifetime and ones that we can tell our kids about one day.

For Menzi, the opportunity to introduce these friends to family and friends back home – and make new memories in new places – was particularly special.

“It was an incredible trip I will never forget, and an experience I got to enjoy with friends that I didn’t even know a year ago. One of the best things about the MAC program is the community. It’s about way more than just studying together – it’s about making friends for life,” he says.
Moss agrees. The MAC program’s emphasis on group work fosters a deeper sense of community in the program where students learn to support their peers and learn from one another – and opportunities to participate in community service projects and attend MAC program events together made those bonds even stronger.

“Through these experiences and lots of late nights studying, I was able to make friends that I will hold near and dear for life,” she says.