Stress, Study Abroad, and Super Supportive People.

This is a story about stress, it’s many forms, supportive people, and overcoming it all.

Before I left for Europe I was pretty stressed. I was working multiple jobs, taking 6 credits, serving on 3 different committees plus some volunteering, social life and getting everything ready for this crazy adventure I was headed on. It was wild and included a few minor emotional breakdowns, but I got through it with so much support it was amazing.

On my birthday (one of the only days I was off at both jobs and school) I had a party at my house. It was really lovely. One of the gifts I got was from my good friend Rose. She bought me some stationary and a journal. The journal is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen called “It’s Gonna Be Okay.”  Every page of the journal has space to write as well as a quote about how everything is really going to be okay and work out. It’s so encouraging, its so powerful and it’s so perfect. I cannot wait to start filling the pages with my thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams because it will all be okay.

Traveling is stressful. I handled it pretty well for the most part. The day that my emotions and my stress became too much was when we flew from London to Rome. Flying is stressful, especially with a group and once we got to Rome there was confusion and chaos. I finally broke down when the internet was out of commission. I needed my honey, I needed my family to know I was in Rome, I needed normal-ness in this foreign place. This is where the lovely Beth and Kalie came in. As I sat in the square with some of our members waiting for the others I just broke down. As I cried I had Beth and Kalie on either side of me. They both simply knew I was struggling and sat with me to comfort me. They are the best.

The rest of the trip wasn’t that stressful. Having 7 twenty-somethings in one 3 bedroom apartment is not the greatest of environments after a while. Too many hormones and personalities.

Coming home was unexpectedly hard. The stress of finishing 17 blog posts and a 4-paged paper, starting fall term, running an event, starting full-time, trying to fix chaos that occurred while I was gone, recovering from jet lag and missing the pace of life in Europe.

Now I’m at week seven and I’m at a whole new level of stress. I’m not sure I have ever been so stressed in my life.

Last night I got a text from Beth from the trip asking if I wanted to meet up before class. The answer was absolutely, yes, one million times! So we met in the bookstore and her hug gave me so much life. People are our life blood, connection are our medicine and life is a truly beautiful thing, stress and all.

-Travelin’ Tori


Dickens and the Coliseum

photo 4

Is this the cutest picture of Meg and I or what? 🙂

“Its solitude, its awful beauty, and its utter desolation, strike upon the stranger the next moment, like a softened sorrow; and never in his life, perhaps, will be so moved and overcome by any sight, not immediately connected with his own affections and afflictions. ” -Charles Dickens Pictures from Italy

Dickens really describes ones feelings when encountering the Coliseum. It’s amazing, huge, beautiful and yet broken, tarnished and has a sort of messy history. Dickens is much better at putting it into words though. “Its solitude… awful beauty… utter desolation…softened sorrow…” It really is a confusing array of emotions one feels as they gaze upon this monument. Then being inside it’s so crazy to see the size the columns, the intricacy of the underground tunnels and the visions of all that has occurred there. It’s bittersweet, and definitely sobering.

I wandered the inside with Beth and I feel like she was a great buddy to have in the Coliseum. Her spirit is so calming and loving. We chatted about life, family, and experiences. We wandered in amazement at this place. There were also many moments of silence and simply watching the Coliseum buzz. It was really perfect. Again the Coliseum is such a combination of beauty and desolation, wonder and history, amazement and sadness.

photo 3

The columns were unbelievably huge!

photo 2photo 1

-Travelin’ Tori

So many stories…Travelin’ Tori lives on!

So I have officially completed my required posts on my blog for the classes I took as part of my trip to London and Rome. However, a lot the requirements didn’t allow for me to share many of the awesome stories, experiences and pictures from my trip. So I have decided to continue this blog until I’ve shared them all. Get ready all because this is going to be great. I will post at least once a month a story from my trip. There were so many things that happened and so many insights and knowledge that I gained. I also experienced a lot of firsts while i Europe so I would love to share those as well. I’m pretty excited to stay committed to this blog and share these experiences with you. I hope you enjoy!

You thought you were rid of me!

-Travelin’ Tori

A reflection… London and Rome… my new homes.

It’s really hard to write this. Partially because this is my last post of this trip which brings it to a close and I’m not ready to say goodbye and partially because it is so hard to put it all into words. How do you sum up such an incredible experience?
I appreciated the fact that our instructor Meg reiterated multiple times that we were going on this trip as travelers not just Tourists. There’s distinct difference. As travelers we want to really take in the history and spirit of the places we were visiting. Yes we want to get our picture in front of the Colosseum as well but then we want to admire it for what it stands for, history, incredible architecture and a staple in an ancient culture. We wanted to be a part of these cities not just another american taking up space and spending money. And rightfully so. A study abroad trip should not be simply all about seeing every sight and buying useless souvenirs. Especially for a Marylhurst student. Marylhurst students are all in. We want a full, and life altering experience. We want to feel as though we are part of the world not simply getting a selfie with it. So we did our best to weave ourselves into the cities and the cultures.
Looking back through my pictures I discovered I took a number of foot pictures. Thinking back I realized the reasoning behind these pictures was two fold. Number one I like looking at things through camera or phones because it truly changes your perspective on things. I do this with my art work a lot. I sometimes thought that if I opened my camera and looked at my feet I wouldn’t actually be on these Italian cobble stones but instead I would be standing on the cold concrete of Portland. I often couldn’t believe I was there half the time. I had to remind myself “I am here.” The second reason was because I have always enjoyed taking pictures of where I was standing and the shoes I was wearing. Without fail I can remember exactly where each picture was taken and what I was feeling in that moment. I’m also glad other took pictures of my feet randomly. And one of them had to do with my awesome footwear accessories in Cambridge…
sock ha

I am here At Cambridge. It was colder than I anticipated. (Photo by Denver Garrison)


I am here at the Camden Markets- London England


I am here walking where Princess Diana used to walk in London England (Photo by Grace Wikander)


I am here at King’s Cross station- London England (Photo by Grace Wikander)


I am here in Rome Italy. The sun on the floor of our apartment in the Trastevere neighborhood reminds me that my emotions are valid and today is a new day.


I am here on the sidewalk of Rome Italy as it begins to rain while we walk to the Museo Nazionale. I am overjoyed and refreshed by the rain.

Crazy enough I felt extremely comfortable in these cities. Almost one step past traveler and just a true Brit or a true Roman. There were a few important moments when I felt like a traveler. One that repeated itself regularly was getting a cappuccino every morning. I found my local coffee shop, as romans do, and I was known by name by the barista, Carlo, and the cashier(he didn’t tell me his name). I would walk in “Bounjourno!” I would say and the Barista would reply “ Bella Vittoria, cappuccino?”
“Si Si Grazie” I would reply. Then he would work his magic to produce the best cappuccinos I have ever had. I would stand there and sip it. It was always so warm, fluffy and loving. Carlo and I would sometimes chat or he would carry on with other things.
The Trastevere neighborhood would be buzzing right outside the door but all I cared about was Carlo humming and working, my delicious cappuccino and the Italians who would come in and out greeting me like I was just meant to be there. Complimenting me on my hair or asking my name. These moments made me feel like I was on more than a school trip, more than a vacation and more than even a study abroad. I was a roman. American-Roman but still just part of Rome, part of this neighborhood and part of this shop. I was always welcomed and always meant to be there. I would finish my cappuccino, slide the glass toward Carlo, pay my two Euro and say “Ciao”
“Ciao Vittoria!” they all replied.
And I would carry on with my day. It really made me feel so alive but also just present. This to me is by far the most important part of a trip like this. Becoming one, becoming immersed, being present, these are the things to which I can always hold on to.
I miss Italy and I miss London and it’s because I became a part of them and them a part of me.
One last time,
-Travelin’ Tori

A dissapointment-Even in Italy it is not all rainbows and butterflies.

Going to Italy has always been a dream of mine. I have always wanted to be in this country that is filled with history, love, espresso, and wonder. The day we arrived in Rome at first I was incredibly elated. I was beaming, happy and had forgotten I had been up since 5 am. My happiness soon turned to extreme sadness and confusion. I could not afford to have international service on my cell phone so my only means of communication with my boyfriend, Kirk, and family was fully dependent on Wifi. When we finally got to our apartment we discovered our internet was down and may not be back for 4 days. Now for the most part this wouldn’t bother me that much but his sent me into a spiral of adness. All I wanted to do was tell my family that I was here and alive. All I wanted to do was tell Kirk how incredibly beautiful Italy was. All I wanted to do was tell kirk about the little girl in the piazza del cossimoto that fell and scraped her knee and ran to her papa. He kissed her and hugged her and it was beautiful. I was officially tired of experiencing Rome without Kirk. I felt as though I would just rather be home in America with him instead of in Rome without him. It’s inccredibly confusing and upsetting to feel this way. I didnt expect to feel such sadness when I was experiencing amazing things. It continued to happen through the whole trip. At the forum I wished he was there to remember all the facts and dates to remind me later. In the Panthon I wished he was there to talk about the mathmatical genius that the Pantheon is. At every Museum I had our little inside jokes running through my head.  

And it wasn’t just him, when I was walking through the streets and would come across amazing artists, even in Bath England, I wished my roommate Tamra and best friend Kathrine were there to listen to the beauty with me and talk about music. Every flower and plant I saw I wanted my best friend Kiana to tell me all about them and pick them to press in our journals. It hurt my heart to experience the Globe Theatre without my grandfather who is an incrediblle actor, gave me the love of theatre, and has devoted much of his life to theatre. I wanted my grandmother to shop for italian yarn with me, And mother to sing silly song with me on the busses and train. I wanted my aunt Jenn to sip wine with me and talk about life.  I wanted my little sister to swim in the medditeranean with me because she would love it. I wanted my older sister to sing with my in the ampetheater in Ostia Antica because we harmonize so well. I wanted Wendy to talk about all the shoes and clothes in Italy and to sit and drink espresso with me. There were many more but these tainted my experience a bit. It was hard to experience this trip that was made possible by all of these people without them. My family, friends and Kirk made this trip 100% possile for me. From funding to encouragement it wouldn’t have happened withuout them. I love them all and wished they were there with me.

I still very much enjoyed the trip. Don’t get me wrong. It was just filled with these emotions hroughout but this is part of who I am and it is okay.

-Travelin’ Tori

Food, food, food- London

I love food! Every kind of food. I was really excied (and surprisingly not nervous) to experience the food in another country. In London I most looked forward to Fish&Chips. I knew that in England they were going to be amazing! and sure enough they were. I ate fish&chips for a lot of meals. n fact when I came home and my boyfriend asked me what I ate in England he thought for a second I was either starving myself or unable to remember anything except fish&chips. The best Fish&Chips I had was at a little restaurant across the way from the British Museum. We headed there for a bit afer roaming the Museum and before heading to the Globe. I ordered my usual delicious Fish&Chips and was given this monster

It was hugee It was amazing! All it took was one person to say I may not eat all of it for me to say ” Challenge accepted” haha I was definitely hungry enough and I love when my little self blows the minds of others. 

I did end up finishing this mondo and enjoyed it very much. It was a good moment 🙂

The other part of England I loved was the tea. You could order a cup of tea anywhere you went and everytime is was so warm and comforting. It hugged your heart and warmed your soul. I also felt super British when I would drink tea. There were lots of moments when I felt right at home in these foriegn countires and drinking a cu was one of those. 

   England reated me well as far as food. I was never dissapointed or let dowwn. The tea was also my friend. I loved every minute. 

-Travelin’ Tori

The Cat Forum- Probably the best ruins in Rome

Okay so who doesn’t love kitty cats! Well Rome definitely does. The ancient ruins of Torre Argentina is the place where in 44 BC Julius Ceasar was murdered by Brutus but starting in 1929, when it was excavated, and continuing to this day it is a cat sanctuary for stray cats. Hundreds of cats call it their home sweet home.

photo 2

Some of the Cat Forum

photo 5

The Cat Forum from the other side.

Now this may seem like just a story Romans tell to be silly but it’s completely true! There is even a little shelter with a cute old Italian who takes care of the cats in the forum as well as helps people adopt the kitties.

photo 1

Here you can see a few of the Kitties, some of my classmates and the lovely woman who runs the shelter.

The forum is right in the Heart of Rome. Close to the Vittorio Emmanuel and Capitoline Hill. It’s pretty fantastic to again have something that is so important in Romans history and something so present day like cats to be intermixed into it. I loved standing by the forum and trying to spot as many lil cities as I could. They were all so calm and precious, just hanging out when Ceasar was killed, how very Roman 🙂 Rome also had many postcards and even calendars that had cats sleeping or standing on famous Roman buildings, artifacts and monuments. So fantastic! To read more on the Roman cats visit this website:

So as far as a ruins to talk about this one had to be it. Ostia Antica, Pompeii and all the other ruins we visited were wonderful but this one deserved a post 🙂

-Travelin’ Tori

Back to the Vatican- A church/ chaple

The Vatican had me in all sorts of emotional storms. Every room, building, sculpture and painting had me in tears. Here I was in from of things that were world famous. Things people dream their whole life to see. Things that are so incredible timeless and so very old. It was astounding. The Sistine Chapel was the most emotional I think I was on the whole trip beside the first day in Rome. As you walk in you are funneled into into a blob of people all looking up… in awe.  ( “Don’t forget to look up” became my mantra in Italy)

The ceiling of the Sistine chapel was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It is a series of frescoes, where pigment is added directly to the plaster before it dries. It is iconic, like nothing one has ever seen before. You look at it and your are dumbfounded. There are not words to describe the immense beauty and wonder that the ceiling offers.


So after crying and not being able to stop in the Sistine Chapel we walked directly into St. Peter’s Cathedral. And again your body is filled with the feeling that you are so incredibly lucky to be here. Your eyes are overwhelmed by the beauty that is rushing into them. There is so many patterns, tile, painting, sculpture, amazing-ness just everywhere. I sat in pure presence in St. Peter’s. I just gazed, let the tears fall, and smile. Truly amazed to be there.

-Travelin’ Tori

Raphael has my heart- A painting.

For our art class we had to do a number of presentations on paintings or sculptures in a variety of museums we visited. We would do the presentations outside then head in to find all the art we just taught each other about. I did multiple presentations on the paintings of Raphael. I have always admired his work but researching it, teaching it to my fellow classmates and then gazing at them in real life was so moving. I cried with each one I saw. They were all so vibrant, colorful and amazing. The one that touched me the most to have the privileged to see was the School of Athens in the Vatican. What an incredible painting. There was so much detail, hidden gems and history in that one painting. I loved everything about it.Also it was huge! This is painted on an entire wall in a huge room. It’s amazing, vast, wonderful.

school of athens

Some know and some don’t but the to figures in the middle are said to be Aristotle and Plato and the man drawing in the front is said to be Michael Angelo. Raphael also placed himself in the painting and he is said to be the young man in the right hand side of the painting wearing a black cap and looking out to the audience. I could stare at it all day and speculate what each character and gesture means. He is an incredible painter and I’m so happy I got to see a lot of his work.

-Travelin’ Tori

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne

The nigh before going to what became my favorite gallery of the trip, The Borghese Gallery in Rome, we were assigned to read Ovid’s Apollo and Daphne. The tragic love story of Apollo being stuck by cupid and falling in love with Daphne only for her to to be struck with an antilove arrow and eventually begging her father too turn her into a tree to try to get rid of Apollo’s love for her. Weird yet amazing story and it made for an even more amazing sculpture. Bernini was know for making marble or stone scupltures that are filled with emotion, action and movement. The Apollo and Daphne sculpture fit his MO. The sulpture captures the momen as Daphne is transforming into a tree. 

The viewer can see her hands turning into leaves, her toes turning into roots and her hair turning into branches. Her leg is also starting to look like bark. She is partial tree, partial woman. Her face is one of both relief and anguish and Apollo’s face is love and a bit of desperation. It was really incredible to see. I stood in front of it forever. There was so much detail and it was all intact which was perhaps the most remarkable to me. I have dont sculpture before and those little leaves and tiny roots are soo fragile. All in all it was one of my favorite things to see. Truly incredible. Every Bernini sculpture I saw was truly unfathomable to me. I uttered more than once, ” How?” or ” I can’t believe it’s actually marble or stone” “What in the?” hahaa they just blow your mind 🙂

-Travelin’ Tori