There’s a reason so many foreign service blogs end somewhere in the middle of A-100. First of all, it’s intense. You’re putting in a lot of hours, and it’s hard to absorb all the information being thrown at you. Literally, you’re in for 6 weeks of full time enculturation and job familiarization. Extremely important, but also overwhelming.
Second, you realize how hard it is to talk about the foreign service with people who aren’t already exposed to it in some way. So the above 6 weeks of enculturation…there’s so much ground to cover.
The six weeks of A-100 fly by, and at the end of the 5th, I found out where I’ll be spending my first two year tour: Brasilia, Brazil!
Am I surprised? Yes
Am I excited? Yes
Honestly, I didn’t know much about Brazil when I was assigned it, and it hadn’t been expecting it, but I think I got so lucky. It’ll be a great post for my dog, I get to learn the language, and I’m going to see a part of the world I’ve never been before. And Brazil looks beautiful!
Immediately following A-100 I had two weeks of Area Studies, when I looked intensely at the Western Hemisphere, and then, after a few weeks of online classes, I began Portuguese! The Foreign Service prides itself on its language programs, and I am excited to get to take advantage of them this early in my career. Updates on Portuguese to come!
There is this famous jam study. In it participants in a grocery store were presented with a selection of jams to sample, and then were given a $1 off coupon. Here’s the catch, there were two stands: one was very large with 24 samples of gourmet jam; the other was small and had only 6 samples of more generic jams. Yet, the shoppers who went to the stand with only 6 kinds of jam were 10 times more likely to purchase a jar of jam than those who tried the 24 kinds.
Choice is paralyzing…and I’m feeling that pretty acutely now as I prepare to submit my first bid list. Continue reading
Last Thursday, I graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), ending an intense year of study, and walking across the stage to get my Masters of Education. I can now officially use the title Ed.M (but I’m not going to, because how pretentious is that).
Which means that my time in Cambridge is officially drawing to a close. With my last Harvard thing checked off, I can now redirect my focus towards my impending move to Arlington, Virginia, and my onboarding with the Foreign Service. Over the next few weeks, I’ll write to fill you in on what all is going on with that process. And believe me, it’s a bit of a process.
Updates on Pack Out, Moving In, and the start of my sojourn as a Foreign Service Officer impending! Anything in particular that you want to know
This is some objectively big news. I have accepted an offer from the U.S. State Department to be a Foreign Service Officer. I’ll be starting training in June.
“What is a Foreign Service Officer (FSO)?” you say. Well, think of it as America’s diplomacy corps. I’ll be working at consulates and embassies around the world (and occasionally at State Department headquarters in Washington D.C.). I’m in the “Consular” job track, which means that I’ll be working on visa issues and American citizen services mostly. I’m not exactly sure all the details, but I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more once I start in late June! How much I’ll be able to share, however, is another matter entirely. OpSec (Operations Security) is legit a big deal.
What this means for this blog however, is that I’m going to be moving overseas again in the near future! Since I originally started this as a way to stay in touch and share my experiences abroad, I’m hoping we’ll be resuscitated from the graduate school hiatus (no one really wanted to hear about my classes did you? Real question, if you’re curious I’ll be happy to share).
In the mean time, let me know if there is anything specific about the foreign service application process, foreign service life, &c. that you’re curious about. Security willing, I’ll try my best to shed some light.
Life has changed fundamentally and unrecognizeably since I last wrote.
I am now a master’s candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education. When I graduate in May I will have an Ed.M and an initial teacher’s certification for secondary English. That means that I’m completing my course work concurrently with my student teaching. It’s a whirlwind of a year. I’m teaching 12th grade English in Boston Publich School District.
My boyfriend and I also moved in together for the first time. We’ve been lving together for almost two months now. That’s an intense change! It’s a huge step in our relationship, and I’m loving it so far. Yes, there are definitely hard parts (and I’ll write more about those later) but the benefits of living with someone you love so far outweigh the challenges, even for a person as opinionated, unyielding, and fussy as I am.
It’s nice to be back in the United States, although I’ll admit, I came back in May, and I’m already starting to get itchy to leave again! I’m looking forward to my trip back to Dallas for Christmas, but I doubt that that will really quench my thirst for exploration.
In the mean time, I’m exploring Cambridge, the North-east of the United States, and graduate school life in general!
After some deliberation, I’ve decided to spend one more year here in Okinawa, to bring my total up to four. With recontracting taking place in January, but the term actually starting in August, that means I still have another year and a half as a JET here, a period that I plan to make the most of. I’m excited to dig deeper into my schools and communities, improve my Japanese ability, enhance my local relationships, and enjoy what will likely be the most beautiful commute of my life.
I got home yesterday from my winter break trip (more on that in coming days), to blue skies and warm weather.
I’ve made a few resolutions for this year. I normally divide my life into three categories and make one for each: personal, professional, and fitness. Personally, I’m working to be less shy. Professionally, I’m aiming to either make the next step off island, or if I stay another year here, to get more deeply involved with my local community. Physically, this year I’ll run my first half marathon!
I’m also going to be writing more. In the rush of grad school applications, I lost track of what I love about writing, and so I’m going to be trying to bring that back into my life. I’m going to be mainly talking about my travels and life here, and as always there will be many photos! I hope you enjoy it!