And thus ends the first week!

This last week has been one of the best ones of my life. I think I’ve successfully met almost everyone in the class. I think I know everyone’s name and there might be a couple whom I’ve only been able to get a basic “Hey, what’s up?” to. It’s hard with a group this big, but it’s exciting. The entire group is amazing and I often catch myself wondering when the Foreign Service is going to realize what an imposter I am and yank me back into civilian life. Truly, one of the greatest rewards of this job is knowing that I’ve been judged as deserving of working with the incredible people around me.

It’s pretty popular to bash the government for waste, inefficiency, and bureaucracy and much of it is deserved. But let me tell you that the Foreign Service is is a professional and high quality as it gets. A-100 is an orientation, not a training session, and the amount of content they get into us is intense. There isn’t a wasted moment in the day and while there is a lot of info, learning about how to function as an employee, learning about the history and structure of the Department of State, getting some introductory information on the rules, roles, and responsibilities of the jobs we’ll be taking in a few short weeks, it’s accessible, efficient, and extremely enjoyable.

The Foreign Service is a pretty small department, just a few thousand officers scattered throughout the world. Considering the shared interests that we have, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the people who is running the orientation is a friend of mine from graduate school or that one of my classmates is a long-time buddy of a guy I met through political blogging. Still, one can’t help but be a little amazed at the small-world connections you discover.

The highlight of the week of course was getting our bid list. 94 different jobs on every continent (well, none in Antarctica, alas). We’ve got 2 weeks to run through them and rank them before submitting them to the magic box which will produce an assignment in 4 weeks time. Huzzah! The best advice we got was to “Hope for the best, expect something from the middle, and prepare for the worst”. I don’t know how others are planning their bid strategies, but for me, I’m really excited to go just about anywhere. I’d like to learn a new language, preferably one that is more rather than less common, but whatever. Some of the posts without language requirements begin almost immediately after class finishes while others have 3, 6, 9 months of language training here in D.C.

I really want to get my family back together but I’m coming to terms with the possible extended separation if I get sent to a post that isn’t the most supportive of the family. There are very few posts where families can’t go, but we have the luxury of choosing to stay in Japan. It sucks being apart but some posts kind of suck to live at, especially for non-US citizen spouses and young kids. We’ll just see what happens. Maybe I can convince the Eminent Wife to let the Eminent child stay with me. Doubtful though.

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