We turned in our bid list on Monday.  We had to cut our highs down significantly due to government policies on having a baby abroad. We will spare you all of the crazy details. On Thursday, Seth heard from someone on the decision-making committee that no one was assigned to a post that they rated low. So, you can look at our list and know that we will end up at one of the medium or high posts. It feel like more info would bring clarity but it is still pretty unclear where we will end up and when. It is still possible that Seth will have to head to post before the baby is cleared which could mean that he would be leaving 3-4 weeks before us (but still after the baby is born). We are praying that the government will extend his training if we are in that situation. Mexico City and San Jose would both start in October so we are really hoping for one of those! We are praying against Juarez and Nogales if you want to join in!  Although the decision has been made we will not know where we are going until Feb 15th and we will for sure let you know when we know! The adventure continues! By the way, the baby is handling everything quite well!

Bogota, Mexico City, San Jose

Belgrade, Bucharest, Caracas, Ciudad Juarez (2), Kuala Lumpur, Nogales, Seoul, Tel Aviv (2)

Lows: (the # means how many positions are open)
Abidjan, Ashgabat, Astana (2, Sorry Graham!), Baghdad (2), Beirut, Bridgetown, Chengdu, Chennai (3), Ciudad Juarez, Conakry, Dhaka, Guadalajara, Guangzhou, Guatemala City, Ho Chi Minh, Iraq, Islamabad (2), Jakarta, Jeddah (2), Jerusalem, Khartoum, Kinshasa, La Paz, Lima (2), Majuro, Matamoros, Mbabane, Mexico City, Monrovia, Monterrey (3), Moscow, Mumbai, New Delhi, Nouakchott, Nuevo Laredo, Ouagadougou, Panama City, Paris, Port Au Prince, Port of Spain, Rabat, Riyadh (2), San Salvador, Sanaa (2), Santo Domingo, Shanghai, Suva, Tbilisi, Tegucigalpa, Tijuana, Tirana

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Fine Dining

We ventured out to Outback Steakhouse a few evenings ago to get a bite to eat. We were exhausted from our day and relieved to sit down. Half way through the meal the waiter came and brought a water pitcher to refill our glasses. As he stepped away I picked up my  heavy “beer mug ” water glass which exploded on me! It made the most bizarre sound and for a good 30 seconds I couldn’t figure out what had hit me! The waiter was in a panic and ran out with ten towels to help dry me off.  Although I was soaked through every layer of clothing we decided it was worth it to stay and finish our dinner.  A free dessert, free appetizer and an hour later as we walked out into the winter chill, my clothes were still drenched.

The next evening we decided to take a step up in society and join some friends for dinner at The Peking Gourmet Inn which just so happens to be one of the top 10 Chinese restaurants in the nation according to USA Today.  They are famous for Peking duck which we had never had before. Surprisingly, it was quite tasty, and expensive I might add! We’re no food critics but we highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the neighborhood. The walls are covered with pictures of famous people who have dined there!  Unfortunately they were out of film and had to take a rain check on photographing us.  Somehow I think that they don’t just run out of film when people like George Stepanopoulos come in (by the way we bumped into him in Georgetown when we were talking a walk!) We have yet to run in to the President but we will blog about it for sure when it happens!

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Representing You Abroad

I’ve been learning a TON in my orientation so far.  We go all day from 8-5 with anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for lunch, but normally we have brown bag lunch sessions, so it’s not that relaxing.  We get a few 15 minute breaks during the day.  But otherwise I’m in training the whole time.  Whether we’re learning about how to process a voucher or how to bid or what the State Department’s mission and structure is.   I believe next week we’ll be having an overview of US politics and diplomatic history.  And to whet your appetite, in the coming weeks the Undersecretary of Political Affairs, R. Nicolas Burns, will be speaking to us.  If you don’t know who he is, he’s the #3 in the State Department, behind the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.

Yesterday, we learned about all the different types/numbers of “embassies,”  meaning embassies, consulates, etc.

I found it very interesting, so I thought I’d share here.  Hopefully you’ll learn something as well.

167 Embassies – Almost exclusively based in the country’s capital city

64 Consulates General – In between an embassy and consulate

21 Consulates – Based in areas of importance to Americans, such as business centers

10 Missions and Delegations – Such as our Permanent Mission to the UN or NATO

1 Interest Section – This is the Swiss Embassy – US Interest Section in Havana, Cuba

53 Consular Agencies – Non-paid employees (not necessarily American) who assist Americans overseas

6 Branch Offices –  Offices in for example Kosovo where we want representation but doesn’t process visas or other things

5 American Presence Posts – 1-person posts where we have a business interest – mostly in France

16 Virtual Presence Posts – Either on the web or traveling consulates

? US Liaison Office – An intermediary post before an embassy is created – an example is Tripoli, Libya

1 American Institute – An NGO in Virginia and Taipei, Taiwan – we don’t have formal diplomatic relations with the country

We have diplomatic relations with 189 countries, with the largest embassy being Cairo, Egypt.  I believe Mexico City is #2.

I also learned about the employee breakdown of the State Department.

There are 56,000 State employees, with 79% based overseas (mainly FSNs) and 21% domestic:

  • 6,700 Foreign Service Officers – that’s me!
  • 4,400 Foreign Service Specialists – some like an engineer or HR specialist
  • 7,900 Civil Service employees – based in the US
  • 37,000 Foreign Service Nationals – host-country employees who maintain the continuity of the post and provide invaluable expertise

On a side note, all those 6,700 FSOs are as many as the Department of Defense has in its band!  Yep, we’re lean and mean!

That’s just a little of what I’ve learned.

During my 1st week,  I’ve heard from 4 or 5 ambassadors.  Pretty cool!

We’re enjoying our 3-day weekend.  We have done some more research on posts today, plan on checking out a church tomorrow, and walking around DC on Monday.

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Updated bid list

So we have narrowed the list considerably since we got the list. Here are the cities that we are now considering. It doesn’t mean we really want to go to these cities, it means that these are our only options that fit within the date range that we need, in other words these posts start after August 2007.

Astana (2)









Kuala Lumpur

Mexico City

New Delhi


Port Au Prince

San Jose



Tel Aviv (2)



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