All at once

Ficklomat has earned its name. As of Thursday, I accepted an offer to join the next A-100 class. That means three weeks from right now, I will be moving from Idaho to Washington, D.C. It’s going to be one giant blur, I’m sure. Adding to that is Allie, our new baby girl! She was born last week at 20.5 inches and 8 pounds 13 ounces. ALMOST 9 pounds! My poor tiny wife. She’s healthy and hairy, and we love having her around.

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My baby sister holding my baby daughter.

So two life changing events in the span of 10 days. It’s crazy.

When something big is coming up, I obsess over the details. Vacations, moves, the bar exam, the FSOT/QEP/OA/A-100, whatever it is, I know every detail and I make sure I’m completely prepared. It has been an asset so far in my life, but it annoys my wife. A lot. So now I’m in the A-100 obsessive stage. I’m excited to get to DC. I already have housing lined up. We are living in an apartment in Arlington that looks really nice called Sedona Slate. The reviews are somewhat negative, but I think we will end up loving it. The rent for 5 days there for 992 SF costs more than a month in our 1,500 SF townhouse in Idaho. Luckily, the taxpayers of America fund my housing for all (or at least most) of my time in the Foreign Service.

Our living room

exterior

The kitchen

The perks at A-100 are pretty nice. Free rent in a fully furnished apartment. A shuttle to work. $72/day for food (this goes down after a couple months to a lower number). They will pack up my entire house for me and move me to DC. We also get a couple hundred pounds of baggage that they ship via airplane to us so that we can get the essentials sooner, but since the apartment is fully furnished, we won’t really need that much stuff that won’t fit in our car. They would also pay to fly us and store our car in Idaho, but we want to have it to get around DC/Virginia/Maryland/everywhere else that is close, so we are going to drive (they pay per mile and pay for our hotels too!). So after a quick trip to Logan to say goodbye to family and to bless Allie in Jen’s home ward, we will be off to DC in the first week of March.

So to answer some questions people have been asking:

What country are you going to be in?
We don’t know yet! When I start A-100 (that’s the name of the training), I will get a list of all the possibilities. Jen and I will research each one (80-100 jobs) and rank each one as high, medium, or low preference. After a few weeks in training, there will be flag day. Flag day is a big ceremony where everybody finds out where they are going. They will have a big arrangement of flags for each possible post. They’ll pull out a flag and announce who is going to that country.

How long are you in DC?
A-100 is six weeks. Then I will have at least 30 days of consular training. So the short answer is at least two months. I will likely have language training that can last up to a year. So the most accurate answer is between two and twelve months.

Can we come visit you in DC/Country?
YES! My sister and her husband are already coming up during my second week of A-100. My mom and my other sister are coming for flag day. We would love visitors.

What country do you want to go to?
This is a hard question. There are so many posts (over 200) and I don’t know what will be on the bid list. There is a good chance we go to Mexico, as that is the most popular destination for FAST officers (first and second tour). There are a lot of posts that have surprised me as being really good/safe/fun places to be. It’s just too hard to list them, but I would love to go to Taiwan/Japan/Singapore. I agreed to be world-wide available, however, as a requirement for the job. This means if the Dept. of State wants me to serve in Somalia or Egypt or Juarez, Mexico, I have agreed that I will perform my duty and go.

I hope some of you will come see us. DC is a great city with a lot of (free!) things to do. The Holocaust museum is incredible. There are pro sports for every major league. The food is great, the weather is usually mild, and it is a short drive from so many other destinations. I will be living closer to the White House (3 miles) than I currently live to my work (15 miles). That’s crazy! Arlington National Cemetery is under .5 miles form my front door. It’s practically my backyard. I can’t wait to see it over Memorial Day Weekend.

So there you have it. Thanks to everybody who has supported us through this process. Thanks to all of the great blogs out there that gave me guidance. Without you all, I wouldn’t have been able to pass this entire process my first time through.

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8 responses to “All at once

  1. Congrats! Even if you end up in Ciudad Juarez, it’s not the end of the world. I made it through my two years there and so have many others. And, you’re in luck that we don’t actually have people posted in Somalia. Some FSOs visit Somalia, but as of now, I’m pretty sure we don’t have anyone actually posted there.

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    • I heard they are reopening the Somalia embassy. But I doubt they’d send FAST officers there. Juarez sounds like it is a lot safer now in the post reports

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  2. Interesting. I haven’t heard the same, and one of my colleagues is headed to the Somalia unit in Nairobi. But, who knows. Those decisions are made far, far above my pay grade.

    Yes, Juarez is a lot safer than it was when I was there in 2010-2012. People I’ve talked to who’ve left recently have had very, very different experiences there than I had.

    Congrats again and good luck with the move and A-100!

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    • Yeah it looks like it was old news that got scrapped re: Somalia. The wiki page for missions In somalia cites a news article saying the US is reopening it but the article has been taken down by the source. No clue where I got the idea from in the first place. I won’t complain though if Somalia isn’t an option.

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  3. Congratulations on your baby girl (love her name!) and your A-100 start date! What an awesome and exciting time for you and your family. I’m like you, I want ALL the information and I obsess over the details. Although there are some differences between State and USAID, I’m happy to try to answer any questions if you have them! Congratulations again!

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  4. Congratulations! A-100 itself is very exciting and with the baby, you’ll be on overload. My advice is to hit as many of the after hours activities as possible because they are at least (and probably more) important than what happens in class. That said, know your limits and with a new family, you don’t want to burn yourself out. Skip the occasional happy hour to go home and chill.

    Have fun on Flag Day. It’s a great time.

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  5. Congratulations on your baby girl and welcome to the Foreign Service community! Our first post was in Matamoros, Mexico. Tough, but a valuable, positive experience all the same. Wherever you end up, you will find that the experience is what you make it. Good luck, and thanks for following my blog!

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