For stop number two of my February break, Liz and I spent three days in Madrid! While it wasn’t my favorite spot to see (placing last in my preferences for this vacation), it definitely didn’t disappoint!
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!
*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!
This past week my family and I went out west for the big solar eclipse!
A few weeks ago while visiting my family in Florida I officially (after a significant amount of panic and anxiety over the last month or two) submitted my visa application for TAPIF!
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 académie 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 Pyrénées 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 bientôt!
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.
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.