Preparing for the Foreign Service (without studying)

So you want to be a Foreign Service Officer? You’ve read the news, you’ve learned a foreign language, you’ve purchased FSOT study guides? Great! You’re heading in the right direction. But being in the foreign service is much more than just a matter of perfecting your writing abilities and mastering your interview answers: the foreign service is a lifestyle. Those who are serious about joining should extend their preparations beyond the professional world; they should prepare their personal lives as well.

How do you do that? I’m here to tell you a few salient things I’ve picked up from the almost two year journey of joining the foreign service. Continue reading


Things I’ve Learned – Posture for Success

We all know that by looking at body language you can tell a lot about a person and how they feel. We also know that we are constantly sending messages to people around us by our own body language. What I just learned is that we’re sending messages to ourselves as well.

Try this: next time you’re sad, make yourself smile. The longer you hold it, even if it feels ridiculous at first, the lighter your mood will become.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, takes this a step further. In her study, she reveals that by taking open, space-taking power poses, rather than closed in weaker positions, participants were able to exhibit elevated testosterone and lower cortisol levels. What this means is that they actually felt more confident and capable, simply by acting the part.

It’s so cool to think that our body language doesn’t only change the way people around us think about us, it also changes how we think and feel about ourselves.

Here’s the link to her full talk: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Things I’ve Learned – Nostril Breathing

How are you breathing right now? More specifically, what nostril (presuming you’re breathing with your nose) are you inhaling through? Weird question, I know. I was told a few days ago that what side of our nose we use reflects how we are feelings. If we’re breathing through our right side, then we’re feeling a bit stressed or at least active. When we switch to our left side, it means that we’re relaxed. It sounds ridiculous to me, but I can say that before my yoga class last week I was really anxious about some work things and was definitely breathing through my right nostril. By the end of class though, that had switched, so maybe there’s something to this.