It’s May. The spring flowers are in full bloom, and the air is filled with a scent of freshly brewed coffee. The sun is shining brightly over the city. Spring has finally settled in nicely, and people are out enjoying their Sunday. Talking, laughing, planning, just being in the moment. How fascinating this is to me.

I tousle my hair for the hundredth time since I took a shower this morning and straighten my maxi skirt. Breathe, Elena, breathe. It’s just a coffee shop I tell myself. I patter up the stone stairs and pull open the door. I am immediately wafted with delicious smells of coffee, breakfast food, and baked goods.

It’s a cute little shop, retro, and hip. The patterned walls with artwork displayed on them throughout the place and cushioned couches with small tables give a homey feel to the ambiance. Not to mention the tunes playing on the speakers. Not too out of date but old enough to give it a vintage feel as well.

I enjoy coming here just to sit and relax and enjoy a hot beverage or some food and read or write. It is comforting and spacious, busy and empty, loud and quiet, happy and playful; but most of all it is calming. The people that surround me seem at ease with the place and with each other. Chatting lightly about anything and everything, enjoying the company around them. Delightful.

I order my food and my favorite tea at the front and then sit down in the far corner near the window. I open up my laptop and begin to write this chapter. With breakfast in my belly and a tea close by I type what comes to mind.

This for me is happiness. This is what Sundays should be like all the time.

What makes this experience so great is the fact that I didn’t need someone to be there to validate me or my decisions. I am hanging out with myself. Cool. I can handle being in a public place alone without much anxiety. This is a huge accomplishment, and I could not be prouder. Good job, me. You’re killing it!

Overcome your fears and they will not control you. Be fierce, my darlings, be unstoppable.




“My skin is so thin that the innocent words of others burn holes right through me.”

“She was too quiet or she was too loud. She hated with every fibre of her being or loved with every piece of her heart. There was no in-between. It was either all or nothing.”

“She was a beautiful dreamer. The kind of girl, who kept her head in the clouds, loved above the stars and left regret beneath the earth she walked on.” ― Robert M. Drake

“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” ― V. Vale



I can feel the cold liquid is spread onto my forearm and the stencil is placed on it. I can hear the buzzing sound of the needle start up beside me and I clench my teeth. This is going to hurt. The buzzing gets closer to my body and I start to shake. I sense the familiar feeling of the needle scrape against the surface of my skin. Instant pain. I gasp and flex my forearm muscle but it’s no match for his strong hands keeping me from moving. After a few moments, I calm down, letting the pain of the needle continue its path to creation.

And then numbness creeps up and overcomes me. It consumes my entire being and shows me a light at the end of the dark tunnel my life has turned into. The sensation of releasing myself into the hands of someone else’s conquering power gives me the rush of adrenaline like no other. I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to be. Whisk me away and do everything you can to keep me from drowning in my own sorrows and tears.

The pain of the needle becomes one with my body and it feels as if it is a part of me; a part of my being. The consistent hum finally settles my nerves and gives me a sense of place in the world; a sense of belonging to the earth. I can almost taste it.

The feeling of that needle keeps me from screaming. The etch of the design on my skin is my way of coping; my way of not self-harming but still getting the feeling of self-harm in some way. It’s a soothing feeling, one that I can identify as safe. Safe… Safe from… Safe from I don’t know what yet. Maybe from myself; from my own demons that fester inside of me. These demons bury me in their infestation of despair and loneliness but I am able to breathe fresh air again through the injection of the ink.


“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” ― Sylvia Plath

“Death is the easy part, the hard part is living and knowing you could be so much more then you’re willing to be.” ― Robert M. Drake

“Sometimes the most beautiful people are beautifully broken.” ― Robert M. Drake

“We swallowed the chaos because we knew we didn’t want to be ordinary.” ― Robert M. Drake


If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You may even agree with me when I say it’s a coping mechanism. It’s also a way of expressing to others in a creative way what means the most to you and what you have suffered through during your lifetime. Recently, or rather extremely recently, I got another tattoo. It’s a peonies flower with the roman numerals XVI. That’s the number 16. It represents and serves as a reminder to me of the 16 days that I spent in the psych ward.

When I look down at my skin, it brings back vivid memories of things I will forever unwillingly remember; but it also helps me live through tough times. To look at my tattoos and know that I will survive is freeing for me. They give me strength to face whatever bullshit is being thrown at me that day, that week, that month or even that year. They are my security blanket and I am not ashamed to admit that.

Over the past three years, I have gotten quite a few tattoos and piercings. For some people, they are rebellious and unacceptable. For others, they are ugly and a waste of money. For me, they are my story. My tattoos are what have saved me from self-harm. My tattoos have made me feel human and real. My tattoos have made me feel like me.


Studying Abroad Options

Hi guys!

Okay so, this post is going to be more conversational than my other ones, mostly because I want to share my ideas and hear some of yours about studying abroad. In light of this, I would love any feedback you guys have for me. Just comment below the post!

Sitting here in a local coffee shop, I’m looking through all the school websites for each institution offering my program, which is Journalism (if you guys couldn’t guess it already).

Now for discussing options, there is a list of places I have to choose from to study at. Here is the list I found on my school website with all the schools that offer journalism in partnership with my university here in Toronto:


Copenhagen – KEA Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (Denmark)

Ondence – Lillebaelt Academy University of Applied Sciences (Denmark)

Aarhus – Business Academy Aarhus; VIA University College (Denmark)

Cheltenham – University of Gloucestershire (England)

Bristol – University of the West of England (England)

Salford/Manchester – University of Salford (England)

Dublin – Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin) (Ireland Republic)

Aberdeen – Robert Gordon University (Scotland)

Umea – Umeå University (Sweden)

Enschede – Saxion University (The Netherlands)

Hirakata/Osaka – Kansai Gaidai University (Japan)

Auckland – Unitec Institute of Technology (New Zealand)


All of these universities offer Journalism; or rather have a ‘School of Media Studies and Information Technology’ and they sound so inviting and interesting! I’m having a really hard time deciding where I want to go. I mean, I’ll be there for (hopefully) an entire year, if not a whole semester so I want to make sure I pick the best one for me.

I’ve already looked through some of my favourites; dreaming of the day I get to hop on the plane and go. My top three all time favourites are:

  1. University of Salford
  2. Robert Gordon University
  3. University of Gloucestershire

I’m having such a difficult time choosing between these three. They all have beautiful campuses and in depth courses about writing and photography and audio journalism. I wish I could study at all of them and more. It would be such an amazing opportunity to do that but I know I can only pick one.

So, since I am very undecided, I’m asking you for your help. Which school from the list above or my ‘top 3’ do you think is the best and why? Let me know in the comments below. Your input is much appreciated.



Studying Abroad Letter of Intent

I would like to give you an update on how my letter of intent is going for the selection process to study abroad. The due date for the applications to be in is February 27th, 2017. We are required to fill out a formal application, send a copy of our most recent grade transcripts, and write a one page letter of intent answering four questions. This is what I have so far for my letter:


February 27, 2017

To the Selection Committee,

This is to clarify that I, Elena De Luigi, am interested in studying abroad for one year. This is my letter of intent to demonstrate that I am an optimal candidate to study overseas.

  • How the courses at your host institution abroad will enrich your Humber program?

The courses that I will take at my host institution will provide me with the tools and skills I will need in the future. The courses I choose will have to align with courses I would be taking at Humber during those semesters.

  • How the study abroad opportunity will positively contribute to your personal and professional goals.

I believe that studying abroad will be a large contribution to the kind of journalist I aspire to be and will become. To experience what life is like in a new country I’ve never visited before excites me. The learning opportunities there are in and out of the classroom are vastly widespread, so the education I will receive will be well rounded and focused. It will be quite the experience to live in a foreign country and to see how people interact with each other and the media.

  • How you plan to be successful in the courses offered at the host institution.

I plan on being successful by devoting 150% of my effort into my education. I come from a family who has done well in university and I will not settle for anything less. I am committed to studying hard and making sure my grades are well above average. I will develop study systems to help me for tests and exams. I will spend the majority of my time at the library and in class doing everything I can to be the best student.

A successful student also means a healthy student. I will make sure to take care of my health by making sure I get enough sleep every night, drinking lots of water, eating healthy foods, going for runs and doing yoga, going to the gym and spending time with the new friends I will make. It will be an adjustment for me but I am willing to work to make it as smooth and pleasant as possible.

I know that my host institution has all the facilities and the resources to help make all their students feel welcomed and comfortable at their university.

  • How your experiences studying in another country will help to bring an international/global perspective to Humber and/or your community.

The experiences I will encounter while studying in another country will enrich my perspective of international/global communities by giving me a deeper understanding of their lives. Each country, even each city has a different dynamic to it and it is my belief that I can bring some of that with me back to Toronto and to the Humber community and share it with them.


I am hoping to be done soon so I can have a full first draft to edit. I’m also hoping a few people will take a look at it so that I can be certain it is top notch for the Selection Committee. Of course, the questions will not be included in the final letter, but I wanted to make sure I cover every aspect of what is expected of me so that I can study abroad. I am so excited!

Also, please feel free to comment below with any feedback. It is greatly appreciated.


Update on Studying Abroad Application Process

Hi Larisa!

Sorry, I know you’re probably sick of hearing from me with all my questions and whatnot but I have a few more questions (who would have guessed). If I submit my application before the deadline is there a chance I could be accepted early? I would love to get the process rolling a little faster. Also, if I was to do two semesters abroad (one year) could I do one semester in one place and another semester in another place? I understand the courses have to align with the ones I would take at Humber so that I graduate on time but I am willing to work extra hard for this. It would be so cool if I could! If not it will still be cool to be in one place too. Please let me know ASAP.

I am beyond excited to study abroad and if I could go tomorrow I would! I may email you with more questions as they come to me (sorry I’m needy and annoying) but hopefully I haven’t ruined your holidays yet! (That was my attempt at a joke but I’m not sure how you’ll take it so I’ll stop trying to be funny). Thanks for being patient with me!

Elena De Luigi


As you can see I am way too excited to leave the comfort of my own apartment in Toronto. This may be the large DD coffee I have just chugged but I am feeling quite surreal right now. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Even if I just go to another country for one semester, it will enrich my life on so many aspects. My education, my perspective of culture and international relations, the way I interact with others, etc. I feel like I can learn so much more in another country than if I stayed here in Toronto. The amount of different experiences that will come my way will be extraordinary and enlightening.


Hi Elena,

Don’t worry – I’m never sick of hearing from students who are excited about studying abroad!

We process all the applications at the same time so there’s no benefit in getting your application in early – unfortunately you’ll have to wait until February to start the process regardless. It would be very challenging to do two semesters back-to-back in different places for a number of reasons. To be honest I don’t think we could do it. What I would recommend if you’re really interested in going someplace soon, would be to consider one of our summer programs, we have some great options for this summer.

Feel free to ask questions anytime! And never stop “trying to be funny” haha – I get it!

Larisa Duravetz
International Coordinator



Okay, I understand! I’m still wanting to do the fall and winter semesters though so I guess I’ll just have to contain my excitement. At least I’ll try… February can’t come fast enough. How long will it take to review the applications and select the applicants to move forward with the process? Thanks again!

Elena De Luigi


We’ll be holding interviews end of Feb/March and then applicants will be chosen shortly after. You’ll likely know by April 🙂

Have a wonderful holiday!

Larisa Duravetz
International Coordinator


I am currently sitting on the edge of my seat gripping the sides trying to contain my excitement. April can’t come fast enough! Time to buckle down and submit that application ASAP!!! More updates to come later…


Studying Abroad

Hi Larisa!

Hope you are enjoying the holidays. I saw on the application form that there was an option to study abroad for a whole year, meaning both fall and winter semesters. Is that still available? I am really interested in doing that next year. I am currently sitting on my couch sipping my coffee as I write my letter of intent for the Selection Committee. Hoping to submit everything to you soon.

Elena De Luigi


This is the email I sent to the International Coordinator earlier this morning. I am currently in the process of applying to study journalism abroad for either one or two semesters. Fingers crossed for two. It would be quite the experience to live in a foreign country and to see how people interact with each other and the media. Being a journalism student, I want to make an impact on how citizens react to different pieces of journalism and hopefully make them trust journalists more. I want my writing to set a new standard for how future journalists report on significant issues in our constantly evolving world.

Studying abroad is something that I have always dreamed about. To be in another country and learn how to cope and experience all the wonderful things the place has to offer is something that lights a fire within me. It burns deep within my soul and drives me to take every opportunity I can to learn.

One thing that will always be with you is your education. I for one, plan to enrich my education as much as I can with books and projects and experiences that give me the tools and teach me the skills I will need in the future workplace environment I will be in.

I strongly recommend studying abroad for anyone interested in gaining a more widespread understanding of the world we live in today. There are so many opportunities to choose from. I understand it can be scary at first, even overwhelming too. But your passion and appetite for learning and adventure should override those feelings. Do not be afraid!

As time passes and the process continues I promise to keep you updated. Also, when I do get approved and have my journey planned out, my blog posts will be written from wherever I decide to study, and you will have the pleasure of experiencing it first hand as I do; almost as if you were with me. My hope is that you will learn as much as I will from the experiences and adventures I will go on.


Hi Elena,

I’m happy to hear that you’re preparing your application. That’s great!

A study abroad term is generally only one semester although its possible to do a second semester depending on what program you’re in and the circumstances. When you get approved to do a semester exchange we map out your courses and make sure that you on on track to continue on in your program and not lose any time. If you are interested in doing a full year we can look at your options once you’re accepted and see what can be worked out.

Good luck and have a wonderful holiday!

Larisa Duravetz
International Coordinator