Friday, January 6, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: Decisions, Decisions

No no, we don't have the list of possible posts yet, so don't get too excited. That goes for John, too, who lately has been going a wee bit insane with all this Foreign Service stuff, even though we're still twelve days out from getting the bid list (wow - writing that down makes it seem like it IS really close!). While John was in Italy he decided to break the globe down into regions and rank them in order of preference. He suggested this morning that I do the same. Here are the reasons I refuse to do that:

First of all, the majority of countries are not going to show up on that list. We can discuss the possibilities until we're blue in the face, but if they're not on the list, we've just wasted a lot of breath for nothing, and no doubt gotten into several arguments we could have saved for a later date.

Second, ranking things by region doesn't really make sense to me. I'm not opposed to any one region per se, just specific locations within some regions. So putting Southeast Asia above South America is a generalization I'm not prepared to make. I'm sure there are places in either one of those regions that are lovely, and places that I'd rather read about online than spend two years living in.

Third, we're going to want to research each possible post in depth when the time comes, because reading other Foreign Service blogs will no doubt reveal things we haven't even considered yet. I know John thinks two weeks isn't enough time to research sixty posts, but he underestimates my abilities.

Fourth, we're not just talking about one country vs another. We're talking about the job itself, the language requirement, the move date, the quality of life, etc.

And finally, in the end, we don't have all that much say in the matter. Someone is going to get the crappy post that no one wants. With my luck, it will be us. Sure, it's lovely to imagine ourselves living in an apartment in central Florence, but it's probably not a very realistic fantasy. My motto has always been "Plan for the worst and hope for the best," and that's just what I intend to do. Yes, I'm a planner by nature, and usually I obsess over these kinds of things. Maybe I'm just too obsessed with my book at the moment to think about this stuff. Maybe my brain is burying my terror somewhere deep into the recesses of my subconscious. Maybe John is just worrying enough for the two of us. Whatever the case, I refuse to freak out until I see the bid list. Then all hell can break loose.

I should also clear up a couple of things I wrote about last week that were incorrect. Flag Day (the day we find out where we're going) is actually going to be on February 17th (eeeek!), not the 24th. And someone with a 5.8 wasn't 40-something on the list. Apparently there were two people with the same name and someone made a mistake. So John's odds of getting in now weren't quite as bad as we thought, but nevertheless, we're glad everything worked out.

The one bit of planning I did allow myself in John's absence was getting a cork board and map pins for our world map. I took the liberty of putting two "NO" pins in the map to get the process started (the key is pretty straightforward: green=high; yellow=middle; red=no). If anyone has suggestions for how to tackle the bid list, I'd love to hear them in the comments - I know there are a few Foreign Service lurkers who read this blog who never comment. Show yourselves!

I know the pins are a little hard to see; think of it as Where's Waldo, the Geography Edition.


Jenny S. Morris said...

WOW, I wouldn't even know where to start. Although I think your attitude is a good one. You can't start processing the possibilities until you have all the facts. And as far as the map, It looks like a not for Russia and somewhere in Africa.

Good Luck on the planning!

Mara Rae said...

Ha ha, it's Moscow (which I'm not entirely opposed to - John just really wants to go there so I'm giving him a hard time) and Ouagadougou, which is the capital of Burkina Faso. We just joke about ending up there because it seems so obscure.

Digger said...

Bidding is an insanely individual thing. So some things to consider in ranking, but you decide how to order them: is getting off language probation an issue? If so, there are two rules of thought: bid language posts and get your training up front, or go for none-language posts so you are less limited your second tour. If you go with the first, you will be eligible for tenure sooner, but you mught have fewer options for your second tour because you will only be able to bid on English language posts or posts with the language you have. If you already have a language and got points for it, you have to bid high the posts that use it and you have to serve in a post that uses it in one of your first two tours.

Also, are you in a cone other than consular? If so, you might want to get that out of the way your first tour, but you might also prefer to prioritize getting experience in your cone. Some cones are notoriously hard to get third tour assignments in if you didn't do one of your first two tours in it, even though those assignments are directed. Then of course there are things to think abiut like kids, pets, etc.

Digger said...

All that said, I know of a guy who bid on the best fishing spots.

David P. King said...

I'm not a Foreign Service lurker, but I'm commenting anyway. Here's to the fruition of your plans.

I gave you a Shout-Out on my blog today! :)