Abuja Bound!

Wow, I really have dropped the ball on this. I spent so much time talking about Abuja with my family and friends, I completely failed to recognize that I’d forgotten to update this place. So that’s the news, folks: I’m headed to Nigeria!

I couldn’t be much happier, to be honest. During the bidding process, I first started thinking about Abuja because a good friend of mine is posted there. I looked into and realized that while it’s not the most exciting post, it’s not really bad in any particular way. It isn’t easy to live there as the infrastructure isn’t as developed as it is here in the US. It is a bit dangerous, but it isn’t a warzone and the danger is relatively easy to avoid. That leads to the biggest challenge, at least according to the comments of those who’ve lived there: boredom. Because of the potential risks, people spend a lot of time in the diplomatic community. For me, I’ve got books, music, games, you name it, to keep me occupied, so I don’t expect that to be too much of a problem.

I’d always emphasized the importance of keeping the family together, but when the time came to join the Foreign Service, we either had to choose to keep the family together and no Foreign Service or temporarily split up in order to get me in. Originally the plan was for the girls to move over this summer, but once I started thinking seriously about Nigeria, I mentioned to my wife that I would be able to handle them staying in Japan if that was best for them. We thought on this a little more and realized that it would be a great benefit to the Eminent Child to stay in Japan a little longer, just to really ground her in Japanese culture. Once she is in the international realm, she won’t be going back and her “Japaneseness” especially is likely to fade away. It would be nice if she could develop a strong cultural foundation with Japan so that she’ll always be comfortable there and thus will have more choices and opportunities in her life.

Once we’d come to terms with the new posture that had moved us into a separation (mind you, this is not a legal separation or anything: there’s nothing wrong with our marriage!) for the first post, I was able to bid with gusto on many places that I may have tried to avoid for the sake of my family. The more I looked into Abuja, the more I liked it. I liked the idea of starting out in a post with a lot of challenges. Everyone deals with that kind of post at some point in their career, might as well get it at it when I’m fresh and full of vigor. One disadvantage of some of the prestige posts is that because they are in London, Paris, Brussels, etc, everyone is so into living there that the diplomatic community isn’t as vibrant and strong, whereas at posts like Nigeria, people come together. Nigeria does have some hardship differential associated with it which will help offset the costs of family travel and may give us a little edge when bidding on the next round.

Since Flag Day, I’ve been preparing. I’ll post more on that soon, but suffice to say that my apartment is getting crowded!