Friday, May 27, 2011

1 Week Down

Only 5 more to go. Week 1 was a lot of information and even though we are mostly just sitting and absorbing the info given to us, I feel incredibly wiped out. We received our bid list on Tuesday. There are about as many jobs as there are people in my class, but we have to bid on all of them. We get the choice of bidding every location/job at either High, Medium, or Low, but, of course, the decision on where to send you is based on the needs of the service, so we have been cautioned not to fall in love with a certain job since the only thing that is truly certain in the FS is that you should remain flexible!

For us the process will be a bit more complicated. A was given what is called a Class 2 medical clearance because of his Apraxia. This means that any post we're sent to must have the appropriate care available and we must verify it through MED before we can be given clearance to go to post. In order to figure out which posts on our bid list were actually open to us, I poured through what medical care is available at each post on the list (e.g. did they have a speech therapist), then I looked at the information compiled by the Office of Overseas Schools, which does mini-recaps of the international schools available at each post and states whether or not they have special education resources (and whether the ones hat do meet US standards). This narrowed the list down by about 2/3 for us. Then we used some other criteria to help sort out the remaining available posts into either Mediums or Highs (the ones we can't go to will all be Lows). It has really changed the way I had originally looked at how we might bid, and I should forewarn everyone that we may not end up in any part of the world we had expected (there are also about 20 Mandarin speakers in my class competing for the much less than 20 China posts).
The good news is that if we don't get China as our 1st post, we will definitely get it for our 2nd post (just the way the FS works if you took the S/CNL points), so we will get there eventually.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Made It

We're here, we're safe. No one was killed in the 2 1/2 days it took us to drive here (although a couple came close). So much to write, but I'm just too exhausted right now. My peeps at BB gave me an awesome send-off complete with some nifty little tools to use in my new life as an FSO. I promise I'll take pics and post when I can because they were so funny. It made me feel good to know that I would really be missed (and I'll miss them, too! There's nothing like going through hell together to bring a group close together.)

We went to our first social tonight. Our sponsoring class put it on for us. Found out our class has some 90+ people in it, so you can imagine how many names I remember, lol. Not surprisingly, we were one of maybe 3-4 couples that had kids, and we definitely win the prize for having the most! :) Tomorrow is my first day, but it will mainly consist of in-processing at Main State. My normal training will be at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), which I will start on Tuesday.

It is about 70 degrees here, and I am wearing long pants, a sweatshirt, and big fuzzy socks. I wonder how long it will take for my tan to fade? On the plus side, there are about 1 million restaurants that deliver to our door and groceries, too! I never have to leave my apartment again (except for that pesky working and all). Promise I'll do a post on our living quarters in the future; it is much better than we expected and we are quite pleased all in all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving Amnesia

Similar to pregnancy amnesia, this phenomena entails forgetting what a complete ass-pain moving a large family across the country is. I have moved over a dozen times to multiple states and countries, and yet it always seems like the inane bullshit that goes along with moving all of the crap you have accumulated from all of the amazing places you have lived is completely brand new. For example, yesterday the movers did not show. I spent the entire morning on the phone with various offices at State and the moving company itself...come to find out someone had entered the date incorrectly (it might have been caught if I had, you know, received my TO before Monday morning - which I had to call back to State to get since they didn't bother to send it to me), and the movers weren't planning to come until the 17th. The problem: Our pack out is a two-day job (hey, we have a lot of kids), and we need to be out of the house on the 18th. So I need time to reorganize all of the crap we're loading in the car and clean the entire house before we turn over the keys. After a lot of headache and extra stress, the movers showed up yesterday at about 2pm. They packed up about 1/2 the house and returned this morning to finish the job. I have a feeling it is going to be a very late night for us :( On the plus side, the movers themselves are great and seem very nice and competent, so at least we have that going for us!

I have to say, this has not been a good intro to moving as an FSO. My travel admin has been completely unresponsive and unhelpful and was, in fact, very, very rude the one time I actually managed to get her on the phone. I had to call the main office several times and instruct them not to patch me through to her but to find someone else to answer my questions. Since our next move will likely be in less than a year and to a much farther location, I do not have high hopes that it will be a good experience. But, who knows, I have been known to be wrong a time a two.

In other moving news, today is my last day at work (only a couple of hours to do my out-brief and sign some paperwork, turn in my badge, etc.). We pick up the rental car tomorrow (we rented a mini-van for the drive since I already sold my car; Husband will drive his own vehicle loaded up with crap) and check into our hotel tonight. Tomorrow consists of house cleaning and check-out, and spending our last few precious moments at the beach. We are bringing our boards and other beach gear with us in spite of our new close quarters, and I envision many weekends exploring the East Coast beaches in our future!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Patience is the 14th Dimension

So when you're going through the process of becoming an FSO, you learn there are 13 Dimensions they (the FS) are looking for in candidates. Patience is not one of them, but it definitely should be. I am supposed to be moving on Monday, but I still have no travel orders. Without these orders I cannot have the movers pick up my things, and if the movers do not come on Monday then our entire time-line (which we have planed perfectly in order to arrive on time) is going to be completely fucked up. I am trying not to lose my mind, but it is becoming exceedingly difficult when NO ONE WILL ANSWER THEIR PHONE. I have been on phone and e-mail for the last couple of days trying to get things in order, but I keep getting the run around regarding what paperwork they need and again NO ONE WILL ANSWER THEIR PHONE. It is so frustrating to sit here at 2:30 on Friday afternoon with no confirmation that I will, in fact, be able to move on Monday. I realize that these folks are overworked right now with the incoming class being last minute and all, but I can't imagine that it is too much to ask to get some kind of contact letting me what the status is. And there is nothing I can do right now but wait.

Friday, May 06, 2011

It's Really Happening

  • Agreement to Join the FS & Salary Offer - signed & sent
  • Travel Orders - on their way
  • Pack out - scheduled for 16-17 May
  • Welcome packet - received
  • Husband - totally freaking out!

Oh yeah, it is definitely happening!

Man, am I going to miss this place