Tag Archive for 'bidding'

Onward!

So my top 10 choices were…

1. Ankara
2.London
3. Tel Aviv
4. Rome
5. London
6. Ottawa
7. Casablanca
8. Madrid
9.Amman
10.Geneva

I’m heading to:

Casablanca, Morocco

I was hoping to work in an embassy this time around and for a tour that wasn’t straight consular work, but the location is nicer this time around and I get 8 months back in DC to learn Arabic. Let’s hope I do better this time with the Arabic than I did the last time around. After 2 years studying Arabic pretty much all I can do is brag about my cats in the language.

Second Tour Bidding

So I suppose it has become obvious that I have been a little distracted these last few months. I was gently reminded by one of my fellow Juarezidents that my blog is woefully out of date and that maybe I should write about bidding on my second tour. Will do! But first the quick version of where I’ve been. The last few months I’ve done quite a bit of traveling. I went out to Merida to visit a friend who works at the consulate there and we road tripped down the Yucatan to Tulum, Cozumel, Akumal, and Playa del Carmen. I went back home to DC for a brief visit and I’ve done some additional traveling in New Mexico. I went out camping at Quemado Lake and went back to the Gila Cliff Dwellings and to Silver City. This time I did the Silver City trip over the course of a weekend and not just in a day; it is a lot saner that way. This time I also brought my own Archaeologist with me to the Cliff Dwellings. Said Archaeologist (AKA my distraction) is the reason I’ve been so bad about blogging lately.

When you enter the Foreign Service as a single gal you tend to hear “abandon all hope… especially if you have cats.” I heard at one point that the cats in particular repel men. In my case that actually turned out true since the Archaeologist is so insanely allergic to cats I’ve resorted to investing in special chemicals to denature the proteins in the cat dander to get it off my clothes… oh the things we do for love. Somehow though despite the cats and the crazy job which I rapidly discovered last summer and fall during my dating exploits in El Paso tends to make members of the opposite sex go “you do what now? And you move how often? So you are here for how long…” Despite an inauspicious beginning, somehow I manged to find someone adventurous enough or crazy enough to sign up to be my MOH. MOH for those not yet fluent in acronym is Member of Household which in this case refers to an unmarried partner. Though, since he lives in El Paso and I live in Juarez, it isn’t necessary to fill out the paperwork to make him a MOH while I’m here in Juarez.

That brings us to second tour bidding! The last few weeks we’ve spent hours pouring over the bid list trying to decide what to bid and how. It’s actually a bit of a challenge to balance career concerns with the desire to live someplace interesting. After living on the Texas border for the last year I kind of want some place a little more exotic. I’m ready to feel like I’m in the “foreign” service. I also want to branch out and try something outside of the consular cone or try a different type of consular work. Add into that trying to find some place where Shaun (AKA the Archaeologist) can either work remotely or have decent job prospects and bidding becomes an almost herculean endeavor. Somehow though we managed to put together a bid list with a top 10 that excites us both. Actually, our whole top 20 is pretty great. I don’t want to jinx it by sharing out list, but I think we’ll both be pretty thrilled wherever we go. I will say that our Top 10 is pretty EUR and NEA heavy with the exception of one job in Canada. I may have to hang my head in shame if I go from one border to the other but the job was too cool not to bid and it will allow me to embrace my new found love of ice hockey. I did once move to Australia just for the Aussie Rules Football, so this wouldn’t be the least sensible decision I’ve ever made.

So that’s the quick and dirty update. Hopefully I’ll be a bit better about blogging in the future since the Archaeologist is going to be out in the field a lot for the rest of the summer and I will have a little less distraction and some more time. I’ll post an update when I know where I’m going, which hopefully will be very soon!

Flag Day

The verdict is in, I’m off to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico!

Viva Mexico!

Viva Mexico!

It wasn’t a high or a medium bid for me, but it also wasn’t a surprise and I am excited about Juarez. It will certainly be an interesting experience and I’m going with a great group of people. There was a sizeable “Team Mexico” contingent in the 148th, one of whom is another of my good friends. She snagged a post on the Yucatan which is one of the spots I am defintely hoping to visit. I’m planning to use my 2 years in CJ to get out and see a lot of Mexico.

I start Spanish training in November. After 5 years of Spanish in college and high school, apparently my grammar makes testing evaluators cringe and small children cry. Having the opportunity to work full time on improving my Spanish is just incredible. I still have to pinch myself periodically, I can’t believe I am being paid to do this job sometimes!

Another benefit of my Juarez assignment is that I’ve never lived out west; I imagine  living on the Texas border will be a “cultural experience” as well. Since it was one of my low bids I have an added bonus of being one of the winners of the “Tail Gun Charlie Award”. A group of my classmates including myself, contributed to a fund before flag day. It was low bid insurance and the people who got low bids are splitting the pot. I got a nice share, which means the margarita fund is off to a healthy start. 😉

I arrive at Juarez in May, so in a little over 7 months I’m off to the state of Chihuahua. I’m really excited about the big Mexican move but I think going to Chihuahua may just be karmic retribution for all the times I called my two chihuahua owning friends’ puppies “rat dogs.” I’m going to starting having nightmares about herds of chihuahuas exacting revenge on me in my sleep…

Flag Day Eve

Tomorrow is the big day! This week they have kept us too busy to really spend too much time anticipating flag day. We had our “core skills” rotations. So we worked on our public speaking, did another writing session and learned some of the common pitfalls to avoid in a Foreign Service career. My favorite session was the one I was dreading the most,”Composure Under Fire.” It had two parts, in the first we were given tips on how to handle the “tough questions.” In the second session our classmates fired some of the really difficult questions at us in rapid succession. As the day went on the questions had a tendency to get progressively crazier. I had a couple questions where I felt a bit like a deer in headlights, but I was actually surprised at how much more at ease I felt handling those questions after the session. I’m not going to claim I’ll do a spectacular job answering them if I do get them in the wild but I at least feel like I have a few good tricks to keep myself doing damage!

The public speaking was another story. I am not an accomplished public speaker. In fact I tend to avoid it like the plague. I’ve been informed that I talk insanely fast. I watched the DVD  they made of my speech and personally I don’t know what he was talking about, I talk at what I think is a perfectly acceptable speed. Clearly people just need to listen faster. 😉 It’s a family curse, we all seem to talk really fast. The funniest advice I got was that I should tan before speaking on camera. Apparently, the camera had trouble adjusting to my skin because I am so pale.

Tomorrow afternoon is of course the BIG day when we finally find out where we are going. The closer flag day has gotten the less and less I have become married to any specific post or region. I’m actually at this point excited to go to anywhere on the bid list. I suppose that is a good thing. I have about 30 posts that I think I might realistically get, but I think I’ll be excited no matter where I go. We shall just have to see what flag day yields! I can’t believe how quickly A-100 is coming to a close. Next week is my last week in A-100 and then off to more training. I’ll find out tomorrow exactly what that training will be.

Bidding and Beyond

Well my final bid list is in and it is out of my hands. I’ll know in two weeks where I am going! I’d be pretty jazzed to get any one of my highs or mediums and pretty content with most of my lows. We shall see what flag day yields.

In between bidding they have kept us busy getting oriented to the Foreign Service and the department. We’ve learned the basics of crafting memos, cables, ect. and have had a lot of opportunities to meet and talk with some individuals who are pretty high up in the department about FS life. Probably the highlight thus far was last Friday when the Secretary toured the Foreign Service Institute. She stopped by my A-100 class, so yes I got to “meet” the Secretary! She stayed for about twenty minutes and took a few questions so it was pretty exciting.

Next up is the “Woods”. For as long as pretty much anyone can remember, A-100 has included a leadership and team building retreat to WVA. Ours is next week and I’m looking forward to it and the infamous “follies!”

Lisa vs. The 6am Wake-up Call

Shockingly, I’ve almost made it through a full week of early morning wake up calls and managed to arrive early (knock on wood). People who know me well will realize this is a herculean achievement for me.  I’m actually starting to enjoy waking up with the birds. The week has been flying by and I’ve been enjoying getting to know my colleagues. They are all amazing people which is a good thing because they have wedged far too many of us in a room I think could comfortably seat 60. So we’re we’re about a quarter of an inch from our nearest neighbors.

We got our bid lists yesterday which is starting to make this whole thing feel a little more real. I’m really happy with the list, if I could have crafted a dream bid list this would almost exactly be it. There isn’t anything on the list I am going to be heartbroken if I get and there are a few posts I am going to bid high that I never thought I would. I have until Wednesday to work up my draft bid list to discuss with my CDO. After my meeting on Thursday then I will reconfigure and resubmit a final list. Flag day, the day we are given a flag representing our assigned country, is only three weeks away from tomorrow. So, soon I will know my fate so to speak. Anyway, off to bed so I’m ready for another 6am morning! I swear there are witnesses to the fact that I arrive on time.

Counting down the days

Since the offer letters started going out, the 146th A-100 class welcoming committee put together an online group so the incoming 148th can ask questions. If it’s possible, I think I am even more excited to join the Foreign Service! Continue reading ‘Counting down the days’