Yesterday was handshake day: the end of two months of nerve-wrecking lobbying for those Foreign Service Officers who received onward assignments and the beginning of the second round of stressful scrambling for those who did not. D knew well in advance of the formal announcements that he would be without a handshake, a first in his FS tenure that significantly raises the likelihood that next summer he will have a career but no job to go with it.
Posts tagged ‘STUD’
Flag Day – the exhilarating, nerve-wrecking, and slightly ridiculous ceremony in which new Foreign Service Officers’ first assignments are revealed – is almost upon us. On Friday S will learn her fate along with that of her 81 classmates, and we will start laying the groundwork for our next overseas move. Assignments are typically finalized a couple of weeks ahead of Flag Day, making the wait for the grand reveal all the more excruciating. Yet compared to the long, tortuous path leading up to this moment, the next five days will last little more than the blink of an eye.
Now that we have settled into DC, the time has come to let the cat out of the bag. Our big news – which has been several years in the making – is that S also joined the State Department. She started training several weeks ago and will get sworn in along with the newest crop of America’s diplomats next month.
Today marks one month since we left the United States, tomorrow – a month since we arrived in Rwanda. It’s hard to believe how fast the days have flown by, but in the grand scheme of things one month is a relatively short period of time – and it is certainly a woefully inadequate time to evaluate whether we like Kigali enough to extend our tour here. And yet, that is precisely the decision we have to make in the coming weeks.
Though still many months from the start of our next tour, we’ve started turning our attention towards Rwanda. There are preschools to research, housing options to explore, vaccinations to update, and the most difficult part of any transition – a new job search for S. Munchkin, meanwhile, has settled into a nice groove at daycare. He even asks for his teacher by name every morning. He is still very young, but this will likely be the last transition he won’t remember at all.
Living abroad, one has to make adjustments. Sometimes it’s a question of adjusting one’s diet. As S learned during her backpacking days, it can be challenging to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle in much of the world. Other times, it is one’s expectations that require adaptation. For example, in Moldova it is rude to come to someone’s house empty-handed, so no matter how much we insist that people need only to bring themselves, we have come to expect that our guests will ignore our instructions. And sometimes it becomes necessary to change one’s routine or behavior. In Kenya, for example, we never drove anywhere if we did not know exactly how to get there, and at times we took roundabout routes as a safety precaution.
While we were busy reliving last month’s travels, winter has quietly crept up on us. Not only has the cold set in again after a pleasantly mild October, but also the days have gotten much shorter — a phenomenon we had happily forgotten in two years of living on the equator. And now that we’ve set the clocks back for winter, nightfall begins well before 5pm. By the time D leaves work, pitch-black darkness has already engulfed Moldova’s unevenly illuminated capital, significantly raising the bar for what makes going out worthwhile.
There is a whole wide world out there — a cosmos we have only glimpsed, but which we are soon about to enter. It is the world of sippy cups and diaper accessories, of nipple butter and snot-suckers, of teethers, pacifiers, and training potties — and navigating it is both exciting and absolutely terrifying. In Kenya, juggling our own safaris and a nearly endless parade of visitors, S felt like a part-time travel agent. With her ever-expanding waistline and the knowledge that soon our little guy will make his entry into this world and forever change ours, S has become a full-time product researcher.
Though ours is not a travel blog, per se, at times it may give the false impression that all we do is globe-trot. “Wait, you guys work?” asked a few of the friends we saw during home leave this summer, a question that was typically accompanied with a quizzically raised eyebrow of mock disbelief. Yes, we certainly do, but the longer we go between trips, the greater the urge to relive past adventures through the photos and stories we share in these pages.