Summer 2016 Bucket List

It’s the official FIRST DAY OF SUMMER 2016!

What a joy my last month and a half have been back at home.

This year, my personal goal is to be more intentional every single day. Since starting college at Loyola Chicago, it seems to me that time has been flying by so fast! I’m especially reminded of this when I’m home and I drive by my old High School.

Last Summer, I felt as though I didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to because of work, or time, or this or that. Instead of letting that happen again, I created a bucket list of the things I want to accomplish during my Summer.

None of these “must do items” are hard to accomplish for me. Everything is very local and budget-friendly! Some items are as simple as trying a new restaurant, others are a hike or just a visit to mundane shopping destinations.

Nonetheless, this is my fortified Summer “must do” list.

 Summer 2016 in Portland Bucket List

  1. Create a reading list 
  2. Have Brunch at Salty’s 
  3. Hike: Opal Pool
  4. Hood River day trip with stops at Doppio Coffeeshop, Mike’s, and Full Sail Brewery 
  5. Willamette Jetboat tour √
  6. Finish START my Scrap Book
  7. Print new photos from study abroad and Loyola   √
  8. Hike: Munra Point
  9. Watch a sunset from the Skidmore Bluffs
  10. See the movie “Nerve”  √
  11. Tree-to-Tree Adventure park
  12. Antiquing at Stars with my Mom  √
  13. Oaks Park for old times sake 
  14. Try every Ice Cream shop in Portland 
  15. Eat at Apizza Scholls 
  16. Eat at Pine State Biscuits  √
  17. Do a hike on the Washington side
  18. Visit Leach Botanical Garden (the Portland Secret Garden)
  19. Go to the Drive-in on 99W
  20. Go to Salishan with the family  √
  21. Be able to run 5 miles without stopping

I hope that by sharing my Bucket List you may be inspired to go out and do some fun adventurous things this Summer! Don’t let time pass by before you get to do, see, experience the things you want to.

Life is too damn short.

Thanks for reading,


*Update: 12/22 complete as of 8/7/16


My start at Oregon Summer musings

PDX Post 1

Long time no write….I know, I know. The time since I’ve been stateside has just flown by (over a month since I’ve been home)! I have been living life happily and healthfully since Italy, but I still cannot fathom that it’s over.

My best friend Cassi (who studied in Prague) said it best when she said it feels like living in Europe was a dream. I wonder…was I ever even living in a wonderful and wild country like Italy? I am so lucky to say that I was.

Summer has been sweet. I am working three jobs that randomly landed in my lap. I am doing organizational management and office work at a massage therapy office, a law firm, and privately at individual client’s homes (tell your friends)!

Seriously I am in a strange place between thriving and feeling like I’m drowning. I love being busy and I do not do well with excessive down time. BUT, I also get caught up in the waves sometimes and I find that extremely unhealthy.

This Summer, I am a morning person. I am a runner. I am hard working. 
I am fun & wild & young. 

I am feeling the most "Cassie" I have ever felt.

Today is a gloomy and quiet day. I am happy to have finally found time to writr post because this is a way I can express myself and document my adventures.

I was especially motivated to finish my first Summer post after an amazing day yesterday. I got to hike with new friends and old, go on an awesome flight with my 2 best friends and boyfriend, and I finished the night off with Pub food and GOT with other friends. It was a social and delightful day.

When reconnecting  over Queen Anne sandwiches at the McMenamins near PSU, my friends and I got really inspirational and hilarious. My friend Shannon is so incredibly poised and intriguing (plus… I am hoping she’ll start a podcast). Her creativity inspired me to get back into my writing post-study abroad.

My friend Victoria is so tech savvy its intimidating. I’ve known her since we were tots and she’s so so cool! It was so nice getting to see her happy and flourishing. She does what she wants and does it so damn well. These girls rock & give me joy.

My best friend Cassi, who you’ve met on the blog before, joined us at dinner and for our GOT screening as well (even though she isn’t a fan). I don’t think I could do just 1 sentence on what she and my other close friends mean to me. Maybe I’ll do a blog post just for her on January 14th!


I am so thankful for all I have been given & the people who have supported me unquestionably….

My beloved Roman friends, those who welcomed me with open arms in Chicago, and my friends and family from Lake Oswego….

How can I show you my love and gratitude?

Note* this post is all over the place-but it is titled 
"Summer musings"


Cheers to more fun & adventure.


Experiencing Roman Catholicism part 6

Another rough wake up. No worries crossed my mind, however, because I was very excited to finally experience for myself the mystical Bone Church. Traveling to Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini was easy. I feel as though I am finally getting a hold of the Roman transportation system (which is an extremely daunting task-even for a Chicagoan)! I hope you enjoy my sixth day experiencing the splendors of Roman Catholicism in its birth place, Rome!

I learned a lot on this day. The Bone Church was unlike anything I imagined or have ever seen before. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. I, however, will deem this site as a must see for any Roman tourists.

The actual church entrance (museum) was fascinating. I have always been keen to learn more about the different sects of Roman Catholicism. I enjoyed reading about the history of the Cappuccini-or the Franciscan Order. A funny thing is a single Franciscan is called a Cappuccino! Here, I finally learned the significance of the pointed hoods (which I had been wondering about since the Easter Processions) and the way that the Franciscans dressed (they dress in a cross shaped robe with tie around the waist). I also got to read a little more about Saint Francis of Assisi whom I have heard so much about while being at the JFRC.

I really enjoyed seeing another Caravaggio painting. This Church housed the portrait of Saint Francis himself. Caravaggio is one of the crowd favorites here in Rome and it’s easy to see why! For reference, his most famous painting is the crucifixion of Peter-which I finally got to see in person on this day!

Proceeding into the Ossuary Crypt (or the Bone Church), I was blown away. I will admit I was a little creeped out, but the Bone Church also intrigued me. A fact about the Bone Church I found cool was that the Earth in this “cemetery” is apparently straight from the holy land. The Catholics never cease to amaze me. Another thing to note is that this is a crypt for the Franciscans, so all the bones are of their brethren.

Next we had a quick viewing of the Santissimi Trinita dei Monti. I really enjoyed walking to this site because the weather was so beautiful. Of course, the Spanish Steps are also always a sight for sore eyes. We didn’t go in this church, so we proceeded to Santa Maria del Popolo. This church was pretty cool as there are two more Caravaggio’s housed here (saint Peter’s Crucifixion and the conversion of saint Paul)!

Next came Gesu e maria al Corso which I learned had an interior that was inspired by the famous Roman artist, Bernini. It was easy to tell upon entering that this cathedral is very influenced by the Baroque artistic period. After wandering this church, we ventured to Chiesa Di san Giacomo in Augusta which I have actually stopped in a couple of times! It is very popular and always crowded as it is on Via Del Corso. I really like this church because of the ceiling. The ceiling fresco has magnificent colors and paints a beautiful theological picture. I think this was one of my favorite stops because of the prayer. I got to reflect on the quote of the Jubilee year ”be merciful as your father is merciful to you” or “Mesecordia come padre.”


Our final stop of the sixth on site was at Sant’Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso. The relics of the Catholic Church always interest me-I enjoyed seeing Peter’s chains and the shroud of Jesus. But it was very interesting to see Saint Charles’ heart. It was also kind of gross, but I am learning to understand the relics better after taking part in this class. At this site, we were asked to read the prayers at each side alter as they were in English. I found these very endearing. I used them as a platform to pray for my family members and loved ones, but also for those who need prayer that don’t often receive it.

In conclusion, this was my favorite on site to date. It is so lovely learning about the traditions of the Catholic Church, especially on a beautiful sunny spring day in Rome. These are the times I feel very connected to my spirituality and my university.


The Relic of Saint Charles’ heart


Thanks for reading!


Why Traveling and Studying Abroad are different

Travel: to make a journey, typically of some length at home or abroad

Study Abroadto LIVE a journey for an extended amount of time and take your studies to a place abroad or away from “home”


I’ve been studying abroad in Rome, Italy for a little over two months now. Before I came here, I remember hearing from past students about the “Study Abroad curve.”After hearing about it from numerous others I really took time to contemplate this idea & decided to set goals for myself on what I wanted to take out of study abroad. From the get go, I knew I wanted to know Italy. This wasn’t my time to “see the World,” this was my time to know the World.

So let’s talk a little more about the Study Abroad curve because this is what leads into my main thoughts. For those who don’t know, essentially the Study Abroad curve is a way to describe the emotions you feel while Studying Abroad.

When you first arrive you’re scared & very homesick. I remember that as soon as I stepped off the plane and got onto the shuttle bus to campus, I was so scared. That night I woke up at 4am and was crying hysterically wondering what I had just gotten myself into. I think that this is the Make it or Break it point and most likely you’ve made it!

A week into it, the city you’re in is THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD. You’re filled with awe and wondering how a city like this exists and how you ever thought any other city was cool. This lasts for a couple weeks.

Then you start using your weekends to travel and you start to see more of Europe (in my case) and you are blown away again and again on how diverse and fun other countries are. You start to want more and more and the prospect of going back to school is dreadful. But you don’t think too much about it because you have time & a dozen more fabulous and fun trips planned.

You keep going and going and learning more and more. Then you hit the midway point after an awesome and jam packed Spring Break and you start to panic (this is where myself and the other JFRC students are now). Your time is starting to tick away so you start to worry that you’re not seeing enough and that you’re wasting your time.

This is the part of Study Abroad that I want to talk about because this is where my peers and I are at right now.


If you read one thing from my post it is this…

sit back, drink a cappuccino and eat a cornetto, and realize that right now, at this very second, you’re in Rome and that’s pretty damn special.


Remember that you’re studying abroad. You’re not just traveling. You’re here to learn to think, live, and breathe like the Italians or even The Europeans. Studying Abroad is way more than just checking different cities off your “bucket list.” Hopefully you chose to come here to better yourself. Remember that your Instagram feed doesn’t really matter and that you didn’t “just stay in Rome this weekend” (sorry but how ridiculous is that comment?!?!).

Immerse yourself and push yourself. Be humble & thankful and have no regrets! Do well in school, but remember that the point of Studying Abroad is to take your learning to the next level- AKA learning mostly outside of the classroom. When we graduate in a few short years, you’re not going to be sitting in classes anymore with the safety blanket of grades-you’re going to be left on your own to take the World as it is and make something of it. You’re going to have to go out every day and learn on your own. You grade yourself.

And guess what?

You already have a semester, or a year, of Study Abroad under your belt, and you’re ahead of the masses. You know how to experience the World, know the World and you know how to learn in this real and tangible way. So don’t waste one second of this experience.

You’re here, right here right now, and you’re SO lucky. 


Thanks for reading!

Ciao Ciao!

Dinner out at Osteria del’anima

Going to a Jesuit Catholic institution has changed my life in many ways. Studying abroad in Rome is just one of many doors that have been opened to me as I’ve been a student at Loyola.

On Wednesday, the school held Loyola’s usual Mass of the Holy Sprit at an Ignatian church in downtown Rome. Although, I didn’t attend mass (I had class), I was able to attend the amazing dinner after mass with some friends and JFRC faculty.

Below are a few pictures from that wonderful night.

A photo of myself enjoying this evening’s wine!
My first authentic Italian Caprese salad featuring a pesto drizzle, balsamic reduction, fresh tomato, and creamy mozzarella all garnished with a dash of Rocket.

The most exquisite part of the evening was the famous Pear Pasta (which does not photograph well). But nonetheless, this pasta is life changing!!! Homemade pear stuffed pasta (in the form of a pasta like tortellini) will be my new go to meal!

After, I was offered a slice of lasagna, that I politely declined because absolutely nothing could compare to the pear pasta.

Following the dinner.. la dolce was life changing! It was a gelato truffle, which was essentially a scoop of coffee gelato covered by a cream that tasted like birthday cake batter and white sprinkles! It was a personal favorite and I’m dying to eat more gelato and find even better dolce!

Ciao for now!


My final day on the Costeria Amalfitano


“Chi Montecassino non vede, paradiso non crede.”
“Who does not see Montecassino, does not believe in Heaven”


This is the view from the entrance of the Montecassino Abbey. We took the bus up a very steep hill. We ventured above the clouds and truly reached a little bit of Heaven on Earth!


The Montecassino Abbey is home to many Benedictine Monks. This is the statue of Pope Benedict before his death. He seen in his final hours stretching his hands up toward God.

YEP this view is remarkable and the building is absolutely stunning. 
I’ve seen a lot of European Cathedrals, but this might be my favorite. Notice that there is no art in between the golden embellishments. This is because the Italian Government is looking for the right artist (and the funds) to restore the paintings. After all, the Abbey was destroyed 4 times. The painted section you see in the back, however, was never touched during the many bombings and violent attacks on the Abbey. While touring inside, we got to witness the Benedictine monks doing their Gregorian chants and holding mass. I was in awe! I do not consider myself Catholic, but I found extreme beauty in the sights I encountered here. 

Something I didn’t know, but really was intrigued to learn about, was the Abbey’s heavy involvement in WW2. American intelligence thought that German soldiers had occupied the Abbey during the war, so we took matters into our own hands and bombed the place relentless. The tragedy, however, is that many refugees were hiding here-not German soldiers. The German soldiers were hiding in the outskirts of the Abbey instead. A lot of people died here, but the fascinating aspect of this story is that no Benedictine monks were killed and they rescued many refugees after the bombing through a series of underground tunnels (where St Benedict is buried today).

After the escape, many different armed forces came and risked their lives to take back the Abbey from the Germans (who occupied it after the American bombing) in May 1944. Just a couple of miles away, you can see the Police cemetery for those who fought in WW2. The cemetery is beautiful. You can see the huge white cross from the walls of the Abbey.

I hope you find as much beauty in these photos and this story as I did!


My weekend on the Costeria Amalfitano day 2

This day was incredibly busy! 7am wake up call to get ready and eat breakfast before the buses departed at 8:30am. I indulged in un cornetto con crema e caffe americano (w/ soy milk–finally!) We began our day at Vini Marino, learning about how true Italian wine and E.V.O.O are made. We even got to try a red (pictured below) and white wine. A special surprise was getting to try fresh focaccia and olive oil–it was delicious! The day continued with going to Tenuta Vannulo which is an organic bufala mozzarella farm. We then proceeded to lunch at Hotel Hermitage & then finished the evening by watching the in Agropoli.

Vini Marino



Tenuta Vannulo

Castello Aragonese e Agropoli

My weekend on the Costeria Amalfitano day 1



IMG_0750.jpgThis is one of the standing temples dedicated to Pagan Gods or Goddesses. The architecture is greco-roman influenced. A long time ago, the Paestum area was inhabited by Greeks. During this time, this part of Italy was coastal. Now, however, the land mass has evidently grown and the beach is a couple of miles away. After taking back Italy from the Greeks, many Italians moved to this area and thus built on top of the original sites with their Roman style architecture. This is why you can see a combination of both types of architecture when examining these structures. Also, notice the size of the Doric columns. I don’t understand how people can build things like this…nonetheless they’re incredible!

I feel so lucky to get to see all these amazing places! The best part about these school sanctioned trips are the fact that I get to experience places I would have never found on my own. The rich history and architecture is inspiring. I really appreciate having a guided tour of these places and I’m happy our tour guide for Paestum was so awesome!

The site contains a roman forum (again this is the title for where the main market was held) and many greco-roman temples dedicated to various higher ups. There isn’t much left of the space after all the destruction of Italy, so I am bewildered that we can still see structures like this today! Also, the area is still under excavation, so there is a lot more to see in the coming years! Experiences like these really makes history come alive. Also, notice what a perfect day this was for an adventure-after spending a couple days being poured on while exploring I loved the clear skies!

Besides seeing the ruins, there is also a museum on site. It was cool to see the things they dug up from the site. This included slabs from a very interesting tomb showing many traditional games being played at the funeral of this man. The main piece is of the buried man jumping into a pool, which signifies the passing from Earth to Heaven. I cannot believe how old these frescos are and how thousands of years later we can still enjoy them.

After exploring the site, we enjoyed dinner at our Hotel (Lloyd’s Baia Hotel) and went to bed for early wake up call on Saturday! The hotel was situated right on the beach in Vietri sul Mare. Before dinner, I had a few moments to explore the town (just a short walk up from the hotel). The town is known for its amazing ceramic pieces! I got a couple souvenirs for my place in Chicago. The food was good! We started with various appertivo, moved onto primi (noodles with red sauce) and then secondi (vegetarian omelette) e dolce (fresh fruit and a passionfruit cake). It was satisfactory!

Thanks for reading! Onto the next day where we saw A LOT.

Baci Baci & Ciao mi amici

A Sunday in Caprarola, Italy

After an amazing Saturday spent at the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the school scheduled to have us students spend a day in the Tuscia countryside. We ended up in a small Italian town named Caprarola. We got to tour the Villa Farnese, which is the essential historic property here. Many students, including myself, agreed this was certainly a favorite site.

Being led through the Villa Farnese by an amazing tour guide, Daniella, created a very special afternoon for us. I learned a lot about the property, some of which I share down below!

I hope you find these pictures sufficient to articulate the grandeur holdings of the quaint city.

IMG_0630Here is a picture of the fake cave in the winter gardens at Villa Farnese where the Cardinal, Alessandro Farnese (the future Pope Paul III), would watch his theatrical entertainment in the winter! The cave is also featured in Begnini’s version of Pinocchio.
IMG_0612.jpgA beautiful home I walked by in Caprarola. What an inspiring and happy shade of yellow! Most italian homeowners incorporate gorgeous flora into their home aesthetic and I absolutely adore this!
IMG_0616.jpgThe Villa is a pentagon shape. It is even claimed that the architectural structure of this building is where the Pentagon got its idea. This courtyard is the central and most social part of the Villa. Guests of the Pope would come in through the main gate (not pictured) and park their horse and carriages here. In addition, the natural lighting capability of including a courtyard in the middle of the Villa is one of the most unique and significant pieces to this breathtaking property.
IMG_0617.jpgA gorgeous fountain located in one of the main Public rooms in the Villa. Also, notice the ceramic tiled flooring-incredible!
IMG_0631To finish off the night we were taken to another beautiful property–what amazing company for dinner at Parco di Cimini! We drank wine and had way to much bruschetta! Great conversations and lots of laughter. On the way home we all enjoyed an infamous Italian sunset. Perfection. (Pictured: Katie, Abigail, and Brooke)

Ciao Ciao!


the roman forum

On Saturday January 16th, 2016 I got to explore the greatness of the Roman Forum. Here, I was bewildered about how much I still had to see of Rome (a lot of which I didn’t know existed). This truly is the beauty of studying abroad in Rome…you can walk around for thousands of hours and still happen upon a random bit of historical beauty!


The forum is an awesome place to explore for both tourists and locals alike! The forum is a huge piece of property between the Capitoline and Palatine Hill where the main part of town was located. This area included many different inhabitants–diverse people from merchants to rulers. Some of the most special features include the actual Roman Forum (there are like 100 locations called a “roman forum” which is basically a market square) and Domitian’s Palace (featured below).

The forum was mainly important for housing the Government buildings in the ancient world. Because of the size of the land and the delicate nature of its ruins, many parts of the area are still under heave excavation. There have been significant changes to the appearance of the forum in the past 100 years. It’s remarkable to see the old and the new come together to be a significant part of our original history.

There are many sites to hit when at the form including the Arch of Titus and Arch of Septimius Severus, Atrium Vestae, and the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Do your research before going-it’s much better to come prepared so you’re not overwhelmed!

The most fabulous thing about the forum, besides its rich history, is the location. From the high points you can see stunning panoramic views of the modern city. In addition, after hitting the forum, you can walk a few blocks and find amazing cuisine and shopping.


After a long day of walking (we walked over 13,000 steps that day), my friends and I settled for some authentic Italian pizza. We each ate an entire pizza by ourselves. The best thing about Italian cuisine is that you can do that. The products used are not heavily processed and loaded with chemicals and nonsense like they are in America. Thus, one can actually inhale an entire pizza after a long day and not feel absolutely dreadful!


To end the day, we walked from downtown Rome to the outskirts of Vatican City (about a 1.5 mile walk). While there, we picked up some yummy Gelato (Pistachio for me) and ran some errands. The day was one of the best days of my life spent with amazing sites, food, and company.

I cannot wait for my next adventure!

Baci baci & Ciao mi amici