Monday, February 28, 2011

T-1 Month: My not-packout

It's officially one month until I become a Foreign Service Officer. Crazy.

While things aren't officially starting yet, I am getting a bit of a head start on one phase that my classmates are still waiting on: the big move. My big move was to all of 50 minutes away, going from out in the Maryland suburbs into the city. And as a local hire, I didn't have an official 'packout', with all the joys of moving assessments, UAB/HHE designations, etc. (or the paid apartment to move into).

I did, however, get my own chance to be stressed, sore, and pleasantly relieved with a new home. Thanks to Craigslist, I found me some cheap movers (aka strong guys with truck), packed up the SUV, and made three trips from suburbia to Capitol Hill. A long weekend, but definitely worth it. It's great to be getting to start this new phase of my life in a new place that I can all my own (well, besides the three roommates I share the house with). And living in this gorgeous part of this awesome city doesn't hurt.

Now that the move is done, it's back to paperwork. I still haven't picked a health insurance plan and have decided not to until I get to A-100 and have the chance to see some presentations on the programs and talk to representatives. Otherwise things are pretty much wrapped up, although some of my documents did manage to be left behind on the move and need to be added to my ever-growing pile before sending them in.

March 28 - here I come!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bid list envy

I can't believe that 6 weeks from now I will be working on my bid list. I will have had a week of orientation, will have figured out my post priorities, and started ranking world locations high to low. The 159th has theirs now (and yes, this post is inspired by Maguire Wire's post that is all of, oh, 15 minutes old - blog stalker much?), and I'm dying to know what their list, and then mine, looks like. Is Beirut there? Damascus? Tunis? I'm trying not get get fixated on anywhere, knowing that I could very well be sent to Mexico, Russia, or Vietnam. But it's already killing me that I don't even know what the possibilities will be!

Just 6 more weeks....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Acronym fun

FEHB, PPO, UAB, POV - my head is spinning with acronyms. While I'm still not sure what they all mean, I now have to use them to make decisions about all the administrative fun that comes with being hired by the federal government. Shopping for health insurance for the first time is confusing and intimidating, thinking about a retirement savings plan is a wee bit difficult for a 24-year-old, and dealing with tax forms has always been a task I need someone to help me with.

Luckily I have a great group of resources already available. Besides my parents (who don't yet know they are going to sit down with me all day tomorrow to work on this stuff), the google group set up for my A-100 class has been awesome. Everyone is getting to know each other, asking questions, and getting some insight from our sponsor class. I do feel a bit out a place - it seems like everyone is married and has children, given them some very different concerns than what I have. I'm glad to know at least one other young single person in the class- a girl I buddied up with during out OA is going to be in the class too, and it's a great relief to know I'll recognize a friendly face and have someone else to relate with on some of the 'family' issues.

I also had an awesome dinner a couple weeks ago with two friends of mine in the 158th. They are both so excited to be FSOs and the excitement was contagious; I left our dinner even more excited about what I'm getting into and even  more confident that I made the right choice in pursuing this career. One of them is leaving next month for her first, awesome, western-european post, but I'll have my other amiga at FSI while she does more training until August before leaving for her awesome, beach-front apartment post. It's wonderful to have friends that have just been in my shoes who I can rely on for advice (they both just got a 'help me figure out health insurance' email) and general support.

This is really starting to get real. A few weeks left at NDI (they've already found a replacement for me), apartment hunting success, and signing off on my commitment to serve. I am so ready for this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Call! A-100 starts March 28!

Well that was fast.
A couple hours ago I received an e-mail inviting me to the March A-100 class! I have already accepted, and will be entirely useless the rest of the day here at work.

I really never thought I would have a security clearance by now, let alone a spot on the register, let alone an invite!

I am really at a loss for words, so this will have to do for now: YAY!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


It's official: I'm in spot 7 out of 195 on the Pol register! That ain't too bad :)

Did take a call and a couple e-mails to get the sorted out. When I spoke with Pat at State yesterday morning she still had me at 80/195 without language points. Glad that was sorted out. Getting that hard data though really made me realize how horrible this whole process can be. I passed the OA with a 5.5, safely above the 5.25 needed to pass. There must be loads of people at 5.3, 5.4 (and indeed, there are, as the yahoo group has shown), that are way below 80 on the list. Looks like I definitely picked the right language to study in college. Allhamdullilah.