Thursday, January 31, 2008

Daycare at the Foreign Service Institute

This morning we dropped into daycare at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), where Alan will be starting his training. There are two options for Foreign Service Officers through the State Department in the DC area, DiploTots and FSI daycare.

Alan thoughtfully put us on both wait lists as soon as he made the consular list the first time. If I remember correctly, we were number 200 on the DiploTot list, but in the top 20 for the FSI daycare. This is mainly because the FSI facility gets more turn-over since some people are there for as little as 3 months. The main State Department daycare facility, DiploTots, has to serve employees and FSOs with a typically two year tour or more.

The Offer is Officially Accepted!

We received an email early Tuesday morning with a revised salary for the offer, which we were very happy to accept after a very long Monday. I believe Alan jumped about 3 feet into the air and let out a loud scream. After calmly composing an email response, it was complete. I asked him to check to make sure it was sent, a virtual pinch of sorts.

The past 24 hours has been a rush to learn as much information as we can. There are many decisions to make. Since we live in DC, we luckily do not have to worry about a move for A-100, like many others.

Alan officially signed off of the Yahoo group dedicated to those who are trying to get into the Foreign Service with:

* I'm probably the only person to ever get bonus points in the Tongan language.

* I'm possibly the only person to accept an A-100 offer, do a little woop-woop dance, and then immediately take a plunger to a backed-up toilet.

* I'll be one of the few who passed under the last offering of the FSWE system and the first offering of the new FSOT system.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tomorrow is the Big Day

Alan is set to give his acceptance to join the March class tomorrow. He sent in additional information on his more extensive experience late Friday. So, if the answer comes back tomorrow -- as to if he will receive a higher salary or not -- he will say "yes" to March.

We are happy that a decision has been made. We could wait it out until the May class, whereas Alan would be able to go to Paris in May for our planned family trip (Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Molly, Uncle Brian, Sicily and I). But everyone, including friends, family and myself, thought he should jump on this opportunity. I am relieved to know he will start A-100 in March. Everything else is up in the air. It feels great to be happy about our new life and to start to make some plans.

We spent the day with two DiploLife related activities. Earlier this morning we looked at some public bid lists for previous A-100 attendees. They stopped publishing lists for public consumption a few classes ago. Looking at the older lists, it seems highly likely that we will go to India, Mexico, or somewhere in South America. From the countries listed, I would be very happy with Hong Kong, Panama, Paris and Argentina.

We also spent some time today storing items in the following categories: baby items for consignment, Sicily items for 18 months and older, and possible baby number two items. We had planned on clearing out some crowded space in our house prior to the offer, but in a way it felt as though we had started the packing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The March A-100 Class is a Reality

We have an interesting weekend ahead. Alan emailed with HR today to get a better understanding of the assigned salary stated in the offer to join the March class. Looks like it is a combination of level of education, years experience and matching current pay. Prior to today, we thought it was only matching current pay up to a set level.

Argh! I just did the calculation. With my loss of salary and a lower salary for Alan, we will be taking a 70% salary cut. Ouch! Well, this is the career that Alan has always dreamed of, and I know many other Foreign Service Officers make the same choice.

After a celebratory dinner tonight (and then we start saving every penny), we will start to sketch out what may need to be done over the next few months.

My biggest anxiety is not knowing when and where we are going. Once I know those two things, I will be a lot more excited about this opportunity. Otherwise I am very happy, for my husband, for our nine month old daughter who will be exposed to so many new ideas and cultures, and for me - I get a chance to spend more time with my daughter and husband as a stay-at-home mom. Those are words I never thought I would get to say as a soon-to-be former work-aholic.

Friday, January 25, 2008

And We Begin the DiploLife

We thought yesterday was a big day.

Yesterday, Alan called the Registrar and found out that he was ranked number seven on the list for consular. He took the oral exam on January 14th, so we expected a week or so for the processing. We were mentally prepared for him to get an offer for A-100's May class.

Today he received the offer email for March's A-1oo class.

We are local hires (already living in D.C.) so our transition into the FSO life will be a little slower than those hired from elsewhere. As we stay in our home and I in my job, others in A-100 will be uprooting themselves to move to the area for training which can be from 3 months to two years long.