Hurrication and the beginning of my next French adventure

I leave for France TONIGHT! I am currently sitting on a 787-Dreamliner, seat 13A as I type this. As you can imagine, the mix of excitement and terror is unreal right now. But more about that at the end!

Last Wednesday night I flew down to Florida in order to spend my last week in the states with my parents. Originally we were supposed to have a lovely and relaxing week together before my flight, but Mother Nature had other plans: Hurricane Irma.

With the storm–the biggest Florida has seen in decades–projected to hit the entire east coast of Florida, we knew that we had to evacuate. So Thursday evening we packed up Mariah–my parents RV–and at 4:00 AM Friday morning we evacuated to the panhandle. There were seven of us in total: me, my parents, my best friend Marisa, my parents two neighbors, Bryan and Ellie, and of course our dog, Aston.

We arrived in the small town of DeFuniak Springs around 4:00, after twelve hours of driving! We set up camp at Twin Lakes RV Park and began our mini Hurrication!

We were extremely lucky to have the RV. We had air conditioning, a functioning kitchen and barbecue, etc.

Originally the storm was projected to hit the east coast directly, but it shifted significantly and ended up going up the west coast of Florida. With this in mind we led DeFuniak Springs Sunday afternoon, spending the night at a truck stop in Jacksonville in order to avoid the main bulk of the storm. Having the RV rock from the gusts of wind as it rained heavily on the RV’s metal roof was quite an experience in itself, but luckily all of us were okay!

The next morning we drove from Jacksonville back to my parents’ neighborhood in Rockledge. There was no electricity and we were told not to drink any water as there was damage to local treatment plants. Thankfully the only physical damage to my parents’ house was the tearing of some screens in the backyard. Seeing the flooding of other areas of Florida combined with the destruction of Barbuda and the rest of the Caribbean reminded me how fortunate I was not only to have minimal damage, but to have been able to evacuate in the RV. I can’t imagine what the people in those ravaged areas must be going through.

The next few days involved cleaning up and preparing for France, sans power. Thankfully for us the electricity was restored on Tuesday night while we were out to dinner with my parents’ friends who evacuated with us.

Once power was restored I immediately made photocopies of all of my important documents since the French LOVE photocopies. Hopefully I made enough!

Today my parents drove me to Fort Lauderdale airport and we made that familiar tearful goodbye as I walked through security. I’ll be arriving at Charles de Gaulle in Paris on Friday at 1:10 PM France time. Once landed I’ll meet my two friends who are also participating in TAPIF–Eden and Cahlia– and the three of us will have a lovely weekend in Paris together! On Monday I’ll take a train from Paris to Pau, where my true TAPIF adventure will officially begin! Fingers crossed it all goes well!

À bientît!

*sorry for no pictures of the Hurrication, I typed this post entirely on my phone very quickly since the wifi at the house hasn’t been restored yet! I’ll hopefully edit some pictures in at a later time!

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A very brief TAPIF update!

As we know, I was accepted to participate in TAPIF in mid-April to teach in the Académie de Bordeaux, starting in the fall! To say I was relieved upon reading that email is a gross understatement.

After weeks of non-stop extreme anxiety of the unknown (the acadĂ©mie de Bordeaux is very big, and I could’ve been placed anywhere in it), I finally received an email from a coordinatrice at the high school that I’ll be working at, and now know that I’ll be living in the city of Pau (originally I thought it was pronounced like “pow” but now I think it’s pronounced “Poh”). It’s a city/town of around 85,000 people (according to wikipedia) very close to the PyrĂ©nĂ©es and Spain (around 85 km from the French-Spanish border). I’ll be working at a high school, teaching students that can be aged between 16 and 21!

Now that I know where I’ll be, it means I can officially start looking for living arrangements and roommates and such! Fingers crossed the search will go well.

And with that, my very brief TAPIF update is over. À bientît!

Pride.

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I’m very blessed to have a family and an amazing group of friends that love me no matter what, and I grew up in a school and an environment that was extremely accepting. But despite all of this, I still wasn’t very confident when I was a teenager, particularly in high school, when I first realized that I was gay.

It took me years to have confidence in myself. I was always too afraid to be bold or be different, and tried my best to blend in. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that, but for me I did it out of self-consciousness and fear, rather than preference. It wasn’t until college that I really started to branch out more and become more bold and proud of myself.

Continue reading “Pride.”

“Make sure to appreciate every moment…”

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Last week I graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in general biology and a minor in French!  Sitting in the stadium in my awkward graduation regalia, surrounded by friends and family, I couldn’t help but think about how unbelievable it was that, after four busy years, it was all over.

Continue reading ““Make sure to appreciate every moment…””

Hello, it’s me

I’ve never had a real blog before (aside from a tumblr, but does that really count?) so apologies if this is done wrong in any way!

Hi!  I figured I would start this new blog off with an introduction post (even though the only people that will be reading this are probably my close friends and I)!

I’m Kenny!  I’m a senior biology and French dual degree at the University of Maryland, originally from New York (Long Island, not the city).  I came to UMD as a biochemistry major (with thoughts of declaring a French minor) but quickly realized that biochemistry is not simply a mix of biology and chemistry and that it is, in fact, pretty much all chemistry (yuck).  Needless to say, three weeks into my first semester I happily switched to the wonderful world of biology and haven’t looked back (I still get a cold chill whenever I see “biochemistry major” in the first section of my transcript)!  The French minor became a major this semester when I decided to study abroad!

In terms of my interests, the very bare basics are a love of Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood, any and all dogs, and Italian food.  I’m also big into outdoorsy stuff like camping and hiking!  There’s a lot more obviously but I’m not going to go into detail right now.

The main purpose of this blog is to document my time abroad (like so many other college students) in Nice, France, where I’ll be spending my final semester of undergrad (yikes, I feel old)!  I’m hoping that with a new digital camera I’ll be able to document the journey with high quality photos but we shall see!

In terms of my time in Nice, I leave on January 13th from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, then Lisbon to Nice!  I’ll be staying with a host family that doesn’t speak any English for the duration, then returning to the US on May 15th (after spending an additional two days in Paris!), and then I graduate the next week!

That’s all I can think of for now!  I don’t know if I’ll update this at all before the semester actually starts or not, but who knows!  If I do update, Ă  bientot, and if not, Ă  janvier!