FIRST DOMESTIC FLIGHT IN THE USA Miami – San Francisco

Hey Fellas, Hope everyone had an amazing couple of weeks. I guess you all would have guessed this week’s blog about. Flying – isn’t always fascinating? Be it we see a flight during our school time and counting them during our physical training periods or even today when it passes through the sunsets with a beautiful sight. The love for flying never settles be it five or fifty (Well except for the ones who have flight sickness). Getting to the point, did you guys have a chance to find what’s going on with Gatlinburg, Tennessee in my last blog post. Yes, it has been a couple of weeks, been extensively traveling for the past three weeks.

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                                                ENROUTE (Courtesy: Google Maps)

This blog is just about my first flight travel and the issues I faced as an amateur traveler. well, I was back home from the Alternative Break trip (Smokey Mountains trip)with my friends at Florida International University. It was just a day, did all my laundry, took rest to an extent and packed for the next 20 days to the west coast of the country. I guess, you guys would have guessed the place by now. If not give it some brain work to see what would be on the beautiful place on the west coast. Just before I reveal the place, I’ll let you know this is one of the places everyone would have dreamt at least once in your life to visit.

Yes, that’s right for those who have guessed it right – CALIFORNIA woohooooooo 🙂 I was flying to San Francisco but I had a layover at Denver.  I was flying with United Airlines. The best thing about flying to the west coast is you get to save 3 hours. For example, you take off from your flight at 9 am from east coast even after 6 hours of flight you would land at 12 pm PST. This flight especially made me learn a lot of stuff that I didn’t know that existed.

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 DREAM STATE (Courtesy: Google Images)

Learning A.K.A Bad experience:

  1. Not Checking in advance
  2. Change of flight due to air traffic at the end destination
  3. Loss of baggage.

The worst part was I didn’t know this would happen nor I was prepared for it.

I had my flight at Miami International airport. Being my first domestic flight assuming that I am arriving on time at least couple of hours early, I didn’t take the pain of spending 30 seconds to a minute to check in which cost me literally an hour of wait, as the kiosks for the automatic check-in wasn’t working. The lines were up and every minute passed my pulse was adding up as I am relatively new to this process and finally when It was 30 minutes to departure I got to the security check. Long lines moved fast and with my heart-pounding, I boarded straight into the flight running to the gate.

  MIAMI AND IT’S ELEVATED BEAUTY 

A peaceful flight to Denver. It was a beautiful sight to see mountains filled with snow and feel the cold when I exited the aircraft to the terminal. And once I came to the gate of the San Francisco (SF) flight all the chaos started happening from the flight delay, to change of flight. I was told there was air traffic in SF, which delayed my flight by 3 hours. So, I was just roaming around the alley, a completely new experience as I have started liking and feeling lively traveling alone myself. In an hour and a half the flight crew was asking as in any passenger wants to go in the previous flight and I was the first one to say YEEESSSSSS in the excitement of reaching San Francisco. I just made sure my baggage will be shifted to the right flight and they did confirm it.

DENVER  INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

All the eagerness packed in the bundle when I buckled up for the flight to SF from Denver. And you guys got to know I was the one to run first to the flight and I was last one from the flight to get out of the airport. Yes, my baggage was missing and all my belongings were in there. I didn’t even have any change of dress or even a towel. At least I wouldn’t have minded it if I was staying in SF. I was leaving as early as 5 am to Lake Tahoe (Lake Tahoe location) So nobody would be there to even collect my belongings for the next three days.

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   NIGHT VISUALS OF SAN FRANCISCO

Then the procedure of claim, refund, the purchase was all confusing and new. After a continuous hustle with the airline company, the airline company gave me a credit of $150 and asked me to purchase what I want for the time being. It was already 11 pm and I was pretty sure, it’s gonna go waste and I have also instructed them to send it over to the amazing location that I was going (Will reveal the Place next blog). It was One amazing and a learning experience.

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                                                           BAGGAGE DELAY FORM 

In my next blog post, I am gonna share few tips as a traveler of any magnitude we need to know to avoid problems related to flight travels, baggage claim, checking in and long ques in the security.

All said and done. Stay tuned next weeks blog post.

Have an amazing weekend folks.

Love,

Praveen

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GATLINBURG – LOST SEA ADVENTURE- A DAY OUT- ICE SKATING- TUBING

Still with those beautiful views from smoky mountains last week. Yay welcome back guys. what’s up?

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Heading over to THE LOST SEA ADVENTURE

During my whole week of stay in Smoky mountains, one day was off, so we were kinda let free from the camp. There are so many beautiful destinations across Smokey mountains. One most important and beautiful destination is Gatlinburg. Since we were there during the month of December, it was misty, cold and yet so beautiful.

Before we hit the spot we were planning on going to THE LOST SEA ADVENTURE – yes the name was kinda intriguing for me as well, as you all are thinking right now. It was a privately owned Cavern ( What is it Private? Yes it was fascinating to me too that an Individual can own a cave in the USA ). The entry to the place is $20.95. It is a cave, completely dark and a constant temperature of 65º F ( 18º C). It was one such experience guided by individuals who take us on a tour around explaining its reasons for the erosion and all the minerals present and suddenly we see a pool of water with fishes swimming around. We were also taken a ride around- Such a beautiful start to the day. Then we were heading over to Gatlinburg.

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Gatlinburg is a small town in Tennessee and has the best views, best wine tasting and alcohol(Moonshine) tasting in the country. The thing about that day was everybody was on time so we could leave as early as possible out of the camp and come back late. we did make it as per plan. It was like a couple of hours drive from our place and reached for lunch and to my surprise, everything I did on the day was just my first time ever.

We went to dine in a restaurant, and I could eat something simple like a chicken burger. There was a log of meat got served by the waiter to one my friends and I was like what is this? and he replies “what the heck haven’t you tried ribs?  Don’t you know what ribs are, expect the human rib cage lol ?”. Well, the honest answer is a NO and I did say it. He cuts a part of it and insists me as in I need to complete it. It was so nicely done that I started loving Ribs the very first time I tasted it.

Then we had a plan of events lined up for the entire day starting off with going to an Ice skating arena. And kid you not, the shoes felt weird when I actually saw them as they were a single piece of metal welded to the shoe and again the question arose was “Haven’t you done Ice skating?”. What will I say them, I am from a tropical country where the temperature is around 30 – 35 degrees Celsius approximately literally throughout the year. Being my first time, I fell on my ass every single time I tried to skate. Then everyone came to my rescue and taught me how to do? Held on to my hand and took care of me like a baby bro haha.

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Strictly NO JUDGING on my Ice Skating skills 😛 

The most enjoyable experience was the snow tubing, its fun guys.  If you guys would have done it, you would probably accept the fact. It was open and freezing in spite of my leather jacket. It wasn’t a lot of people which means we get more turns to do it. Let the pictures explain you better.

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Gatlinburg is a small beautiful town famous for its architectural experience, Moonshine, breweries, and their amazing wineries as well as their outlets (More important free tasting – SAY NO TO FREEEEEEE right 😛 ). We went on the Gatlinburg sky lift- like it was one of a kind views from the top of the mountain. The ride was amazing and thrilling as we went higher it was steep and scary. Overall worth the cost.

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Then after a tired day. We went on a walk to purchase some souvenirs, but the walk was so beautiful following us with the creek next to us. the sound of the water over the rocks, lights of the city, and the amazing architecture of the city was all worth the while. When we were on the lookout for restaurants, the wineries didn’t let us pass through. People from the shop were so welcoming and explained us about the complete procedure of preparation of wines. They were really a rare collection compared to the rest of the country and the aroma and taste were on point. Passing by every winery, none left us without tasting, never seen a bunch of people this courteous to serve free alcohol.

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When we were done with the wine section, Moonshine stores didn’t let us pass by without tasting. Moonshine(Link to explore more about Moonshine) is a type of alcohol mostly specific to smoky mountains area. This is a mystery drink as it can generate two flavors, for example, they had a cinnamon apple moonshine which tasted cinnamon while drinking and when you exhale it gives you an apple flavor. The storekeeper made sure, we had a taste of all the flavors. (I still didn’t understand why are people too nice :P)

PS: Drink responsibly, drink only if you are above 21 are moreover drinking can be injurious to health – I see you guys better behave, just kidding keeping in control is always better.

After such an amazing day, we did grab some food from the McD’s if I am not wrong and back to our forest zone at 11.30 pm.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS:

  1. Make sure you have a plan based on your interest.
  2. Hotels and resorts are pretty expensive, try to book it beforehand. (Options for cheaper booking: Hot rate hotels @ Hotwire.com)
  3. Keep your activities in the morning, so get ample time to explore the city at night.
  4. If you are a Wine lover, Never forget to taste raspberry and blueberry wines pretty much from all the outlets. Buy a few which suits you- they are amazing for the cost. (Average price $15 – $25 per bottle and cheaper when taken in a case)

THINGS TO DO IN GATLINBURG:

  1. Skiing, Ice tubing or Ice skating – So many options to choose from (We went to Ober)
  2. Creek walks around 7 pm if its winter and 9pm if its summer.
  3. Try out the wines from different local wineries.
  4. Amazing Barbeque places. (Choose based on google ratings – It works)
  5. Go on to the top of the mountain – Use Skylift (Tickets for $7)
  6. Moonshine tasting is a must if you like are a Whiskey Lover.
  7. Climbworks smoky mountains for zip line lovers.
  8. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster.
  9. Wild Bear Falls Indoor Waterpark. (Pretty amazing place for some family time in the water )
  10. Mountain mall (Both for purchasing souvenirs and spending some time )

Hope you guys had an experience exploring this beautiful city. Let’s explore my first flight journey in the US and check out next week to see where I flew.

Love,

Praveen

MULTICULTURAL DRIVE – DRIVE FROM MIAMI, FLORIDA TO GATLINBURG,TENNESSEE

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THE ROUTE 

Welcome back my wonderful readers, hope you enjoyed my First trip in the USA. You know what people who follow me regularly on social media might know, I traveled a few weeks back to Boston, it was a crazy ass experience which I will write separately. But for the very first time, I wrote my blog in the flight, the silence, the height, flying in the air, the sound of air passing by and a traveler retrieving his memories- Whaaaaattttttaaaa deadly combination. I just loved it😊 I also had an amazing Chinese friend Jess, who was visiting her boyfriend in Boston and sharing her experience of travel within China and elsewhere. A good Conversation Indeed, I love what I do and I am glad I can share it with you all.

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A Co- passenger cum traveler Ms. Jess from China

To start with the actual trip. This is again a nerve wrecking for a guy just moved to a completely new world, Yet beautiful experience. When you go any US university for education, at least most US universities, they have something called Alternative Breaks (AB), which is basically a group of like-minded people who join supporting a single cause, for example, supporting Homeless, Supporting Environment, Supporting education so on and so forth. I was a part of a group where we supported Environment (Guys we all need to start doing something positive towards the environment, that’s the need of an hour). It was six of us, such amazing souls, all were doing their Undergrad and I was the only one doing masters. But the difference is they were born and brought up here in the USA. But I was the only one immigrated from a completely different Place. I as a person, don’t bother with any such differences, however, insecurities start to kick in such as adapting to the situation and what would they be interested in which you can speak but gracefully adapt to the situation and start learning is what I eventually did.

Believe me or not. It was such a learning experience from the second I gave the interview to be a part of this group to the day we all said bye. Still, we all are connected to social networks despite living in different cities having different walks of life.  One mission was to work for the cause, but another mission was to travel and have fun at the same time. Then comes cost cutting as we are all still students and we planned to drive 13 hours(15 to 16 hours with break) instead of flying which was way cheaper. We even did a fundraising for the cost of the fuel. I wish I had pics to show you guys how I use to fundraise (I just used to have those fundraising chocolates with a hanging flyer which says 1 chocolate FOR $1 just like a street vendor next to Library – But it worked, lol) We made enough money as we planned to make, A little more wouldn’t have hurt but yea, that’s all we could manage.

The day came as semester got over the previous day, I was at a party with the Asian Student Union from the evening (Pic’s below) and we were supposed to leave at 4 in the morning. Finally, I managed to leave the party place at 2 Am somehow, came back Shifted my stuff from University dorms to our very own 508 paradises (That’s the house I use to live in Miami).

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One of the Crazy Parties till date – Asian Student Union

And I got off with all the required stuff and the excitement to the core because I was going to cross Florida state line and enter a new state for the very first time. We were renting a van at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Carpooled and reached there. Inside I had the thing I am the only Indian, how are we gonna get coped up with them for the next one week. However, I was confident and ready to take it on but at some corner of the heart, I don’t know whether it was an inferiority complex or not having the sense of belonging.

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The huge vehicle we drove for the 15-hour journey 😛

There were 4 drivers including me because the not everyone could drive the crazy ass vehicle, We hit University of Florida, Gainesville as early as to get breakfast after 5 hours of drive. The deal was to have breakfast come out and I’ll drive. Had an amazing breakfast at Cracker Barrel(Cracker barrel link – if you wanna try ).

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   Ain’t the Skillet Yummy 😛 

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I took the vehicle, and it was the first ever time I am driving such a big vehicle ever. I managed to turn, come outside the building and start driving opposite side of the road (Not kidding – I am like so serious ) everyone shouting Praveen and I press the freaking brake so hard and everyone displaces from their seat and everyone was like let others drive. Felt so shameful and I didn’t literally open my mouth until we reached next stop. I was just feeling weird, just the emotion that they thought I didn’t know to drive. Then smoothly I was calming down and all Finally we crossed the Florida border. It was my first ever time that I crossed Florida.

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Florida – Georgia Borderline 

A drive of few hours we reached Atlanta in the evening. It was completely new to me from the atmosphere, the temperature,  and the aura itself. It was pleasant and chilly. Unlike Miami, there wasn’t a lot of commotion, not a lot of noise, even the downtown was pretty and silent. After a short visit to Mc Donalds,  for lunch, we started driving back and we all started binding with each other pretty well. However, they had issues with my accent but pretty much it went well.

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Atlanta Downtown

As we were entering Tennessee, the sun was set and drive got scary as there were just a GPS and no mobile network for any of us. It was quite adventurous, scary and most important it was freezing cold outside. Finally, we managed to find the place through the woods. It was really steep and we were guessing that should be the place. As expected that was it. It was a wooden house with bunk beds surrounded by mountains and trees (Such a wild and serene experience). Everyone was really tired after a 16-hour journey. Same as you are after a thousand word write up, just kidding.

Hear our funny voices discussing how weird and creepy was the town 😛

Glimpses of Atlanta and surrounding 🙂 

I’ll see you in my next blog with all the adventures we did, the new school Alternative break group we met, and all the fun we had.

Have a great weekend people.

Love,

Praveen

First ever Travel – Alexander Springs

Welcome back, hope your week is going pretty awesome.

Just a recap of the previous week- First road trip- crossing Orlando- camping- Swimming in Spring – Beer- BBQ- Tenting. (If it’s confusing – you have two options- check out the points below )

  1. EITHER Go the previous blog read it and come back            
  2.  OR Stay here and read this blog because it’s a fresh and a new place that you haven’t seen yet.

well, In spite of the tired day, we all managed to get off from our tents roll back everything and get to the new location which was pretty close by, like a 20 minute drive that was again a fabulous location for a day out with barbeque, smaller hikes and snorkeling (I wish back then I knew I would travel like this or would write about places – would have captured way better pics lol 😛 )

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Travel from Our location(Juniper springs) to Alexander Springs (Courtesy: Google maps) 

The sun was out, water was pure, the flora was wild   – The bliss of being in a place like this is so exciting, I try and create emotions to showcase how beautiful and breathtaking places are, but when you see with your eyes it is ten times the actual beauty expressed by me. These are places were you can just sit for hours together, by yourself or with your loved ones and admire every minute passing by graciously with this lovely piece of mother nature.

The water body was just a large swimming pool unclouded, where you can look at your feet when you enter and walking by in the silky sand only to an extent because it’s really so deep into the center. Either you know swimming or have a float to support – our whole gang almost droned a guy which wasn’t funny but when you recollect memories today it is funny 😛

      The atmosphere at Alexander Springs 

We Swam and had fun for almost couple of hours by the spring, finally, our stomachs started giving all the signs to say enough of feeding heart with happiness and brain with memories. we still didn’t listen to it, started walking by the trail, doesn’t take much time if you just take the periphery instead of the whole hike. Loaded my phones memory with enough of selfie spamming, finally remembered we don’t have any chicken or veggies to barbeque as we ran out on everything last night itself. You know what, the worst thing is you are hungry af, and people cook delicious barbeque and you are too ashamed to go and ask haha.

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Took a shower got our belongings, ran to the go get some food. But everyone is like”we need Indian Food” ” we need Indian food”. Everyone decided finally to go to an Indian restaurant in Orlando. It was an hour an a half drive through woods and rain. But the food though, OH man so Yum after so long, I knew it wasn’t that great but at least the flavor of the Indian food meant a lot to me but not the check. Which meant still  I was multiplying by 63 or 64 times the cost haha.

All my trip were memorable but this one was First on my list, always sweet and special. Sunshine state – for those who don’t know it’s Florida never fails to make me happy. With all the happiness and back to home. A four-hour drive mostly everyone was sleep except the couple of them driving. With this positive note have a look at the essential things you need to know about Alexander springs If you gonna travel there.

Travelers section: 

10 Essential things to know About – Alexander spring:

  1. Recreational area.
  2. Part of Ocala National park- Florida.
  3. Constant water temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Multiple springs vent under limerocks ledges.
  5. Has a 1-mile trail (If at all you have energy after swimming :P)
  6. Barbeque.
  7. A place for some sports like Frisbie, badminton, soccer (Whatever game you can imagine within that space – I leave it to your imagination 😛 ) 
  8. Canoeing and Kayaking
  9. Stores available for swimming and camping gears.
  10. Bathhouses, Camping area, and Picnic Places Available.

What should I have in my bag pack for camping at springs? (For people who didn’t get a chance to read my previous blog )

  • Towel *
  • Few shorts*
  • Hiking shoes*
  • Slippers*
  • T-shirt.
  • Swimwear and googles.
  • Insect repellant *
  • BBQ skewers, veggies, pre-marinated or required mix, charcoal and fire initiator ( If you wanna do BBQ ).
  • Cutting boards, Knives, spoons, and forks if necessary
  • Essential toiletries and skincare (depending on individuals) *
  • Tent and sleeping bag*
  • Pillows and blankets*
  • Most important always try to carry Trash bags*- Never know when will it come handy.
  • Sunscreen*
  • Umbrella* – you never know when it rains in Florida.
  • Camp reservation confirmation*- If the previous booking is done.
  • Power bank– If you are so much love with the place and click a ton of pictures from your mobile phone.
  • DSLR preferable or a good phone would do.

* – Mandatory

Have a sweet little lit weekend,

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Travel from  Alexander Springs to Miami (Courtesy: Google maps)

My weekend is gonna be lit as well

Mom is back in the US, Taking her to my Hockey final on mothers day and it’s so freaking exciting. (To all reading my blog better pray for us to win 😛 – you guys better pray, just kidding send me some love and thats enough 🙂 )

See you next blog.

Love,

Praveen <3

Phases of Life /travel – PART 3

Hey people, Glad you guys are back!

Here goes the answer to why am I blogging? What made me write blogs? what travel got to do with me?

To all the reader’s, this is the Last one guys! I swear No more personal blogs guys…Time from next week to see some colorful places and admire… woohoo !!!!!

Even before I received the undergraduate degree,the actual piece of paper which  qualified me as an Engineer, I set flight to a beautiful country that gave me so much of confidence, perseverance, and ability to think  forgetting the fact that there is something called society which will always try to pull you down regardless of what you wanna achieve. Two questions always I have in my mind: If you won’t regret when you look back, what you have done? Are you passionate and happy about doing that? If Yes is the Answer then very well there is no place for second thought.

 Farewell at home and Chennai International Airport (Lol 😛 look at me, seriously )

I still remember my first flight to London and the connecting American Airlines flight to the US. It was like a dream, even today it is. Losing all the connections from the roots, flying 10,000 miles away with a thinking of different time zone, with people of different cultures. Will I be able to deal with it? Will I ever graduate my masters? (I swear I had this doubt – I am not even making it up), Will people accept me for who I am?

Courtesy: Google maps

Taking a break and looking at all this journey made me realize how life is beautiful and could we ever repay at least a part of it to earth, our parents or our friends. Guys take a minute and think how grateful we should be to our lives compared to a million people.

                                        First ever 10-hour flight journey to London 

                                             FIRST SIGHT OF MIAMI – SUCH A BEAUTY 

Well, everything eventually fell into place and for all the questions I would strongly answer a Yes now raising my chest proud and happy.  The first sight of US is still in my eyes and heart even today(As you see in the video, I am glad it came out well and I could showcase it today) – A beautiful evening from 10000 feet above, an amazing view of the south beach with the coastal vibe was so welcoming. Not forgetting the fact roommates are the most important part of anyone’s life but here in the US, it takes a notch more. They aren’t just your roomies, they are family and even well-wishers if it happens right.

We call the home I used to live “508”, A paradise. We never knew we were making memories, all we knew was that we were having fun. When I turn back and see, everyone who lived with me was elder to me (So naturally you become a little bro to them 😛 ) It’s always fun to be the youngest whether it is family or a family away from home. They even feed me, take care of me and made sure I cope up with the culture shock and conditions.(All the face down here had influenced me, taught me and motivated me as much as they could )

The school was different, Classes were different and even exams were kinda different. But I made sure I got this but met two beautiful souls who again made sure I am doing great in school too. Again mechanical engineering gifted me 2 more idiots AKA friends to deal with all my stupidity and the craziness!  Fun times man!

The change wasn’t easy guys, to all who moved to this country or any country abroad for this matter. Let me narrate 10 things, everyone goes through, the at least majority would have.

  1. Converting $1 to Rs.64,65,65…. whatever it was (Don’t smile if you have done it)
  2. Feel like speaking to your friends when you are free – But they are deep asleep at that time.
  3. Looking at the amazing cars, Will I ever be able to buy them? 
  4. Homesick (The magnitude differs though- In spite of staying in residential school from the age of 12, that feeling is real )
  5. There would be bad days where you need to run to someone for just a hug, but the fact is no one would be around you – Need to deal everything by yourself.
  6. Toilet paper (Self – explanatory – If you still don’t get it better move over to the next point haha!)
  7. You have a feeling of being in a mirage: Is this the place I really belong?
  8.  Finance being a constraint,  restrict yourself even to essential things that you would love doing (Unless you are from a status which gives you privilege not to care about finance )
  9. Your taste buds start to fade eating differently from your regular spicy food.
  10. The most important of all “YOUR INNER CHEF WILL COME OUT OF YOU ” (No other way apart from cooking 😛 )

Just letting everyone know, I came to the US to do my masters at Florida International University ( FIU) – A pretty amazing school in terms of schooling experience and in terms of the location and cultural diversity. Just sharing few initial pics while I moved to the school.

I hope you guys know pretty much about me.  (I hear some voices say, no more  – I got you guys !!! )

Can’t wait to show you guys the first travel I ever did in this Country, and many more to follow.

See you guys on next blog.

Love,

Praveen