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the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

HOORAY posted:

Just an update that I accepted the OMS position and will be in the September 26th FSS training. Flying to DC on the 20th and moving into Oakwood Falls Church on the 23rd. FREAKING OUT. But in a good way. Planning on taking the October FSOT again...somewhere in DC I guess?

Hey, congrats! Good for you!

So I can't remember if I've posted before in this thread or not. Sup Goons, second tour FSO speaking. This job kind of kicks rear end. You got questions, I got answers, usually.

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the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Vilerat posted:

I have a window!








It opens!!!!!

gently caress you. I have a window, but it's sealed shut. Damned new facilities. (Though I do have a sweet-rear end cliff underneath my window.)

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Macunaima posted:

Yeah, I'm still waiting for mine too, checking my spam folder every day.

My boyfriend's waiting in your ship too. I'm so sorry. =( Apparently some people got to submit their QEP stuff late because ACT hosed something up?

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Kase Im Licht posted:

That happened either last year or the year before too. No excuse!

Agreed. Welcome to the government.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

Reason number 111 I joined the foreign service -- touring breweries, getting drunk, being surrounded by a dozen hyenas, and feeding them raw meat from my mouth while one jumps on my back.

Reason number 112 I joined the foreign service -- brunch with an archbishop, getting seasick on a ferry while the ambassador's wife held my hair back, and getting tours of Haghia Sophia from the people who built it.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

What a week. Paypal got hacked to the tune of 1200+ dollars (not including fees/charges). Car broke down. Major VIP in town, which of course I got tasked on. Sheesh.

Best way to get out of working a SecState visit: find out that she's arriving 5 hours after your wedding. Turns out you get out of all control officer and site officer responsibilities!

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Business of Ferrets posted:

Seriously, don't do this yourself. That's what the management section is for.

Yeah, Jesus Christ. If your Mgt people can't even get that right, then hell, they're worse than ours, and I life a drink to your name.

When I was in Riyadh if your air conditioner went out you had 24/7 support to get it back up and running. You'd think water would be in the same category...

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

Water is fixed and I got major repairs done on my car. Yay.


If all goes well, next weekend going to be taking a vacation!

Nice!! Good luck - where will you be going?

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Zoots posted:

Coming back to Post after a medevac is the best feeling in the world. Finding your car completely dead in your garage with no way of getting in due to a lock malfunction kind of dampens that.

On the bright side, at least this will give my now-rusty Italian some practice with a locksmith who will charge me an arm and a leg.

No way, BP - you're a Goon?! Sup fellow Riyadh refugee...

the_chavi fucked around with this message at 15:42 on Apr 8, 2012

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Jedi Knight Luigi posted:

What's it like being an FSO in Saudi Arabia? When I studied in Austria one of my best friends was a Saudi Arabian guy who was in my German class, he was a really cool guy just really a great representative for his country. (Part of this may have had to do with the fact that both of our religions hate the papacy [I'm Lutheran ])

Of course I know not all Saudi citizens are the same, but I just think it would be a very interesting change of pace to go from the rolling cornfields of the Midwest where I grew up to the sands of the middle of Arabia. I'm also interested in Islam and Semitic languages. Saudi Arabia isn't considered a "hardship" post, is it? I mean, I heard even McDonald's has a delivery service over there.

Zoots can chime in with his own impressions... we both worked very different jobs while we were there, which colors your perceptions. My job (consular section) required me to be in the office 70-80 hours a week, doing a lot of interviews and a lot more paperwork. I didn't get out to mix it up with regular Saudis all that often, so my impressions are highly informed by what people think visa officers want to hear.

Outside of the office life, Riyadh's tough. I did short stints in the two constituent posts, Dhahran and Jeddah, which showed me very different sides of the country. For me, a year in Riyadh was the hardest time in my life. I arrived when we were still an unaccompanied post (after an al Qaeda group overran our Jeddah compound a few years before and executed several staff members), and two weeks after my arrival our embassy in Sanaa was bombed, which put us on lockdown for six weeks. Once we were granted limited personal travel, we still had to take armored-up motor pool transportation everywhere, which meant that everyone knew everywhere you went and with whom you went. Later in my tour, I dated a man who did not have diplomatic immunity, so we had to leave the country to go out to dinner together. Also, that delivery McDonald's you mentioned? Doesn't matter much if the Saudi military officials guarding your compound won't let them in. =/ I learned a lot about myself while I was there, and at the end of the day I'm glad I went. I'd still rather bludgeon myself to death with a tire iron than go back.

There are tons of places to learn about Islam and Arabic/Semitic languages. You don't have to go to Saudi to learn those - indeed, I'd actually recommend you choose that place last out of all Arabic-speaking countries to learn...

Edited to add: tl;dr - Yes, Saudi's a hardship post. It's not as hard as it was when I was there, allegedly, but I'd still rather not go back!

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Jedi Knight Luigi posted:

So is it inherently better to be an FSO as opposed to an expat? Or what are the pros and cons to each facet?

All about expectations. I know RPCVs who have a really hard time being in an American bubble and want to get back out into Bumblefuck to be with the real people, and I know people from Bumblefuck, USA who want to exist in an entirely American bubble. Some friends who joined in their early twenties had a hard time lining up their memories of study abroad in the Middle East (no security restrictions, go hiking wherever you want, go offline for weeks on end) with the realities of being an official American (and thus, a juicy target) in certain Arab countries.

In my current post (Turkey) I've found it pretty easy to get out and mix it up with locals if I want to, though I must confess that my closest friend group is a group of long-time Istanbul expats. I supply bacon, they negotiate more complicated language scenarios than I can handle for me. We all win!

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

AgentSythe posted:

I mean I was close, I guessed the Balkans. That puts me in the top 5% of Americans!

Yeah I loved that moment in A100 where we got the bid list, digested it shortly, then immediately ran to the large map at the back of the room to figure out where Asmara, Port of Spain, and Ougadougou were located.

It's still incredibly depressing to have to explain to people that Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey. (And then to have people sing That Song at me.)

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Business of Ferrets posted:

In fairness, it's not Constantinople.

Very true.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

pamchenko posted:

Some friends of mine and I have discussed taking advantage of the Istanbul boat. Naturally, it would involve reenacting the "I'm on a Boat" video.

Not anymore we don't... the employee association couldn't afford $100K/year for upkeep. :/ But yeah, when we went out on it (before it went off the water for good at the end of the last season) there was a TON of "I'm on a Boat" reenactments, especially since it's pretty common to see dolphins in the Bosphorus.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Jedi Knight Luigi posted:

I was actually just in Turkey last year on a project with an NGO I was working for (no, my family's not rich, just took out a big fat loan to study abroad :P ) and really enjoyed it there. We went to symposia in Istanbul, Ankara, and Mardin.

What was the NGO, and what was the project? I have a lot of contacts who are originally from Mardin (Syriac Christians). I never got to visit during this tour, lamentably, but I'm hoping to serve in Ankara in the next 5-10 years, at which point I hope we'll make it down there a few times on road trips.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Vilerat posted:

A few pointers:

1. Don't be a jerk.
2. Ambassador's OMS does not equal Ambassador.

These points apply to everyone, specialist or generalist.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

I'd put him in there but i don't know his info.

Her info - pol generalist, arriving in Tripoli next month. Served previously in Riyadh and Istanbul.

You want blogs, you can toss mine down if you'd like. I think my stuff from Riyadh's my most interesting... hannahdraper.blogspot.com.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Jedi Knight Luigi posted:

It was an Exkursion for the NGO head's (who was also my boss, this guy) philosophy class. Here's a press release. I was the only American in the group. Best lunch I ever had in my life was in the Kurdish quarter of Ankara on mother's day. We went to I think 3 different Syriac Christian monasteries in the Mardin province and even met the archbishop.

drat! If y'all go back on a similar trip, let me know - our Consul in Adana (which covers Mardin) and my successor in Istanbul (who covers all religious issues across Turkey) would love to have more info.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

So today in things I love about my job: I'm on the phone with my mail-order pharmacy company, trying to explain why I need 15 months of meds at once (no APO/pouch service in Libya, yet, and I'd rather not go without my happy pills), and the woman on the phone thanked me for my service. It seems silly - I'm used to armed service members getting thanked for their service, but me? Aww, shucks, ma'am, t'weren't nuthin'...

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Tyro posted:

If the OP is still being maintained I guess you can add me as "awaiting clearances".

Oh hay, for OP updates, the Tunis field school is back up and running.

Also, when I did consular work in Riyadh, we had 80-hour work weeks. I laugh, and laugh, and laugh every time a consular colleague goes home before 5... then I mix a drink and keep going. >_<

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

Tejj.

That stuff is wicked. When I visited Addis in 2008, some friends who were working at the Embassy took me to "the best place in town" for tejj. It was served in liter bottles that were recycled - tonic water, cooking oil, coke, whatever. My bottle got 8 inches from my face and no nearer. UGH.

On the plus side, it got me street cred at the Ethiopian restaurants in U Street.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

TCD posted:

In my first assignment, I broke my leg and a toe on separate incidents. Also sliced my finger open with a razor blade that should have had stitches. Wife was medevaced to London with meningitis.

Only thing that has happened to me on my second assignment so far has been a 2nd degree sunburn.

So for me, I'd say that Foreign Service life has been more dangerous than my life back home.

My liver's taken a beating in this career, but the only thing that's happened to me otherwise is that a drawer fell out of our fantabulous Drexel Heritage furniture and landed on my foot, breaking a few bones. I had to go hike up a cliff in eastern Turkey to report on a religious event for work the next week, and our bloody med unit wouldn't give me any pain killers. Life is hard.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Business of Ferrets posted:

Hahahahahaha. I hadn't seen that thread.

I'm sometimes reminded of the high levels of idealism brand-new FSOs (and aspirants) often have. All the way up until the point they first realize that diplomacy is mostly a stronger country cajoling a weaker country into doing things not always clearly in the latter's interests.

Links! Links! I get Yahoo! posts sent to my spam thread.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Business of Ferrets posted:

True story:

While in the States, someone once unironically told my wife that she and her husband were planning on going to Germany to learn the language so that, once they got into the Foreign Service, they could be assigned to Switzerland.

I think I just pulled a muscle laughing. Someone in my A100 class quit on DAY ONE because there weren't any German posts on our bid list.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

pamchenko posted:


In other news, I know it's supposed to be basically like vacation, but home leave kind of sucks. I miss my friends at post, my hometown is kind of boring and I don't really know anyone here any more and blah blah blah. I spent an hour today aimlessly wandering around Target because I didn't know what else to do with myself. I swear I'm going to log onto my work email tomorrow just to feel more at home. Okay, and also to try to clear up this issue where GSO is accusing me of having stolen a humidifier out of my apartment. But maybe someone will be available on Gchat!

[sigh] This is pathetic.

I'm on home leave now. I'm wandering around Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas with my husband meeting his extended family - we got married at post in March and didn't meet anyone outside of our parents prior to gettin' hitched. When it's love, you'll go to rural Kansas with your husband and grit your teeth while his relatives talk about that communist president.

On the plus side, I get to drink a lot of beer that isn't Efes. You have no idea how happy this makes me.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

pamchenko posted:

Oh, no doubt I'm doing it a little bit wrong. I've got some weekend trips planned, but what I really should have done was go to San Diego to visit some friends or something. Oh well, next time.

Started drinking at 2 PM today. I love home leave in Louisiana.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

mtreecorner posted:

It's very competitive but I agree with Diplomaticus.

Thirded. You might also consider applying for Pickering or Rangall fellowships... not sure if you have to apply as an undergrad though, but it can't hurt to look into it.

If you join the FS, you don't have to make a career out of it. Do a tour or two overseas and then you can convert and apply for CS positions at State. You'll have a much better chance of getting these CS positions once you've worked in the system. I know a lot of people who did this - worked in the FS for two or three tours, then once they had kids and wanted to settle down in the US, they converted to CS jobs in similar employment fields to what they did overseas. (Consular work, economic analysis, nuclear negotiations, whatever.)

I'm not sure about the overall ratio of CS to FS, but there are some offices that are more heavily CS weighted. For example, in PRM (Population, Refugees, and Migration), most of our experts in the field are CS, because they've been working with ICMC and UNHCR for 20+ years. (Lovely people in that office - I staffed a visit by the A/S to Turkey a few months ago, and both he and the staffers who came with were amazing.)

the_chavi fucked around with this message at 22:03 on May 18, 2012

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Skandiaavity posted:

Most FSO's enter around their 30's. I think the average age was 30 or 35, and the youngest person in the current specialist class so far is 28... For generalists I'd like to think it's mid 20's and above?

Based on my experience in A100 the average starting age is mid-thirties, unless you join with the other Pickerings, in which case it's more like 26.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

jayk posted:

The QEP was brutal this year.

No poo poo. My husband (then boyfriend) got bounced out at the QEP stage last year. Trying again in the next testing window...

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Skandiaavity posted:

Aaaand I'm going to Manila, Philippines!


CONGRATULATIONS! I know a lot of people who did their first tours there, they all loved it.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

I don't. I haven't checked FSBid yet though. If someone does have such an account and can get the 2012 Summer ELGEN list, let me know!

I can check on HR Online starting Friday or Tuesday (depending on how long it takes to get my new badge at Main State).

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

Holy poo poo. Holy poo poo. My dream post that I have been saying that I want since DAY 1 is on this bid list and I WILL loving MURDER PEOPLE FOR IT.

(10017003) if you want to look it up.

Damnit, and I'm not on Open Net right now!!!! What's the post? Hint, hint? What's it rhyme with?

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Skandiaavity posted:

give you a hint, the capital city rhymes with "dagos" keke

(seriouspost: give you a hint, it's in northern South America, but is not connected/related to any country found there.)


No poo poo? That's your dream assignment? I didn't think they had roads/relevance there...

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Teleku posted:

Hey everybody, after over a year of applications, interviews, and inspections, I've finally got my official offer to join as a Foreign Service Specialist (IMS). Got the huge info packet in the mail, and am working to get through the poo poo load of forms I need to submit.

Congrats!!

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Today in things to expect from the Foreign Service: random shifts in your expected departure date.

I was given incorrect information about how to apply for a Libyan visa, meaning that I was about 3 weeks later than I should have been - applied at the end of home leave, not at the beginning. Resigning myself to sleeping on a friend's couch in DC for a month until my visa was approved, I started making leisurely plans for consultations and visiting friends in the month of June. On Monday morning, I got a phone call from the Libya Desk, telling me to come pick up my visa request letter, as we'd been told the visa would take two days to issue. Oh. poo poo.

Nothing like preparing for a PCS in 72 hours when you thought you'd have 4 weeks. Bonus round: 10 minutes after I got the phone call from the Desk, militias took over the Tripoli airport _again_, though I understand the situation was resolved before nightfall.

(I actually can't wait to get to Tripoli...)

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Homie S posted:

Funny thing, no one really knows because it's a crazy convoluted process to get one. Me and another guy we're on deck to TDY out there and couldn't because we literally couldn't get a visa. It was freaking annoying.

My visa came through in two days, shockingly - are you applying in Washington? It's super fast now, apparently... Are you still planning on TDYing out?

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Zoots posted:

Ugh. On duty this week. Who needs sleep anyway?

"OF COURSE IT'S AN EMERGENCY THAT I LOST MY PASSPORT, I WILL MISS MY FLIGHT TO MALLORCA TOMORROW WITHOUT IT!!!"

My favorite overnight emergency was a person who called at 3 AM to inquire about Turkey's changing visa regulations for foreigners.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

I had to take it out due to lack of space (50000 character limit) and not keeping it updated anyway.

Someone could post the link to the Google Reader package of FS blogs.

Here's my list - http://hannahdraper.blogspot.com/2011/01/updated-reading-list.html. I haven't updated it in a while... will do that soon.

the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Zoots posted:

"Yes, ma'am, OF COURSE the Ambassador is happy to head to the airport to personally pick up your misrouted baggage and deliver it to you."

I wish I was kidding. By the way, any of you kids catch Foreign Secretary Hague's speech on what British consular officers can and can't do?

Oh yes - the FCO puts out stuff like that rather frequently. So does the Canadian Foreign Office. I wish someone at the Mother Ship would do the same...

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the_chavi
Mar 2, 2005



Toilet Rascal

Diplomaticus posted:

My OMS took the FSOT today.

Karen? No, she's in RSO, isn't she...

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