Thursday, March 17, 2011

I must admit - it's pretty cool!

So the sun came out today, and tomorrow it is predicted to be in the mid-70s. This kind of forecast, particularly coming off a Northwest winter, can brighten any mood and put a spring in even the tiredest step.

Okay, I've gotta' say it - being at the Foreign Service Institute is pretty darn cool. It's like being back at college again, with the campus of brick buildings interconnected with pathways past statues of great Americans (I see ole' Ben Franklin every day). The cafeteria is full of students, often chattering away in every language you can imagine as they practice between classes. We have a super group of Specialists from all walks of life and parts of the country, too. As we're arranged in our daily classroom alphabetically, instead of by specialty, I sit next to people who I wouldn't know otherwise, and being towards the beginning of the alphabet - I have a second-row, center seat.

The amount of information IS overwhelming; I must admit. It feels as if they are lobbing tennis balls at me, dozens of them, each with some vital task written on them, while they say, "Don't drop any! Oh, here's another one, very important! But this one's easy... it's *online*!"
There are so many balls in the air by now that we have to rely on each other for reminders about what's due, where to find which form to fill out, which video to watch etc... Exciting to be in the thick of it all, but utterly draining as well.

We're spending more time researching our bid lists these days. We each have a complex matrix of considerations in making our preferences: Family, pets, schools, weather, the type of unit we'll be working in, danger or security, health concerns, proximity to family and so on. Plus there's an element of strategy as we each try to figure out who will likely get which post, and which one we may have a good shot at. One classmate finally just said, "You know - just surprise me."

We've considered making flashcards of all the flags of the countries up for bid so that when they project the flag up on the screen at Flag Day - we'll at least recognize which country it is when they call our name to "Come on down!" I eat my breakfast on my Flags of the World placemat each day. (The cat bowls are on their Cats of the World placemat; they need to be prepared, too!)

Okay, it's time for more homework. Big Day will be next Tuesday - ready or not, here it comes!


  1. LOL! I just wrote about the reality of being at FSI. It is like WOW!

  2. Both of you are really getting me excited about my trip there in April. I can't wait to get started on this next chapter.

  3. Just found your blog. We have multiple cats. The FSO spouse has been in a number of countries--Philippines, Pakistan, Haiti, Chad, Nigeria, Cambodia, and New Zealand. It is always good to check on how to get the pets there and what you have to go through to get them. For example, many US flag carriers won't transport pets during certain times of the year, and even if they do, may have limits on the number of pets they will accept on any given flight. NZ required two tests six months apart, multiple documents, use of a specially certified pet shipper, and 30 days of quarentine. Going to Africa, if you are laying over in Heathrow for more than a specified time, you have to put the cats in quarentine there. Going to Cambodia, if you fly through Europe you arrive in Thailand late at night and the airport may not be able to handle your cats.
    Obviously, you don't want your career controlled by having pets (just your life :) ) but it is good to know exactly what you are signing up for before you do it. Regards, and good luck.