Cedric Al Kazzi is an architect from Lebanon traveling the world with Remote Year Battuta
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
Even though Im a professional procrastinator, I didn't want to push traveling and exploring until later in my life. Remote Year came at a perfect time personally and professionally.
What are you working on for the year?
With Hord Coplan Macht I am lucky enough to be working on redeveloping a prominent 1970 18- story office building in downtown Baltimore into 350 apartments. It is under construction at the moment and my main task is construction administration. That includes issuing drawings for construction, answering questions from the consultant and contractors, and reviewing sub contractors' work and drawings.
How did you find yourself a remote role?
When you say remote work, you don't think architecture, I personally never thought about it. I took it as a challenge, had to shape my job position into a remote one, tested it for a couple weeks and pitched it with the results to my office. The office has been very supportive to the idea and they were on board for the challenge.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
Yea, yes, yassss, cool, coolio, sure, awesome, great!, You do you! You go girl! It might look overwhelming, but baby steps. There's always home you can go back to. You set your own limits and timing.
How do you think traveling has affected your current work?
I wanted to bring traveling to the forefront but not at the expenses of my professional development. It doesn't have to be either or. Being on Remote Year added lots of value to my career. Most improved skills were in communication; how to briefly and concisely convey ideas via whatever technology I have on hand. The clearer is it the, less clarification is needed and it facilitates on the long run our communications with contractors and clients.
Technical tips aside, my work has improved from meeting interesting people here and there, and physically exploring architecture and seeing it up close; spatial, visual, material variations of the vernacular and modern interpretation of architecture in every city we visit.
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
I am from Beirut, Lebanon, moved to the US for school and work four years ago. I traveled around for school projects to Syria, Spain, Colombia, Estonia, Finland, and China. Plus multiple visits between Lebanon and the US to visit Family members.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
Birkenstocks, external battery, Google Maps ( I spend so much time on Google Maps - Terrain View, there's something about its virtuality that gives me so much freedom and control)
What was the biggest challenge you overcame while on Remote Year?
Traveling on a Lebanese Passport, you only have access to 1% of the Earth's surface without being questioned for papers. Malaysia was the only country on the itinerary that did not require a visa. I had to collect so many visas along the way and the process was challenging and tiring.
Did any of your world views change while on Remote Year?
Traveling around so many countries, I often get to reflect about my identity as an Arab and what it is like to be Arab in South America, Europe and South East Asia. The many faces and stereotypes that I care for or not care for overwriting. One question 'Where are you from?" was hard to answer most times. What identity prevails at the moment of the question? The audience, my willingness to open up and how much time I have,m where factors to consider for what identity to pick.
Who and what taught you an important life lesson this year?
Attachment to places, people and materiality. Every month starts with a reset button.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
Figuring out what's next, where, why, and when; Making independent decisions on the spot. Remote Year's role here was crucial for the journey; it facilitated the process pretty well. Oh and FOMO.