Foreign Service Blog Round Up: Chaos


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Well hello, bandwagon.I knew I wasn’t the only person who thought of the brilliant idea to start a blog chronicling my adventures abroad as a Foreign Service spouse. I have discovered that there is an entire community of Foreign Service bloggers — blogs by FSOs themselves (State & USAID), blogs by their spouses and partners, joint blogs by both FSO and spouse/partner and blogs collectively written by FSO families. I’ve subscribed to a good number of them and I’m excited to read about their experiences overseas and learn a thing or two. Or a million.Jill at The Perlman Update manages a weekly Foreign Service Blog Round Up (or FS BRU), in which she offers an optional writing prompt and then links to blog posts by various Foreign Service (/spouse) bloggers. This week’s topic: chaos.Now we haven’t departed for post yet, nor do we have any children (which I imagine generally contribute to more chaos for most families, let alone Foreign Service families), but I think I know a thing or two about chaos. Let’s recap the past six months or so:October 2011: Husband (then boyfriend) finds out he is posted to San Salvador.November 2011: Husband proposes outside the U.S. Capitol. I accept (obvs). Wedding planning commences. Begin Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish. Spill an entire glass of water on my two-week-old MacBook Pro and suspend Spanish lessons while my laptop is fixed. Wait an excruciating five days waiting to find out whether my laptop was beyond repair and I would need to buy a new one, or whether it was reparable for free. Breathe sigh of relief upon finding out it was the latter. (Thank you, Clarendon Apple Store.)proposal outside capitol, foreign service wife, moving overseas, foreign service blog, fs bruDecember 2011: Spanish resumes and wedding planning continues, including securing a venue, finding a wedding officiant, buying a wedding dress, ordering stationary and booking various vendors (caterer, florist, photographer, DJ, etc.) Apartment-hunting (for a place that offers short-term leasing or, ideally, a diplomatic clause for Foreign Service officers) begins. Apartment is found. Apartment hunting ends.Aside: Most suggested wedding-planning “timelines” begin 1+ years out from the wedding date. When we decided our wedding would be in April, less than five months out from our engagement date, we got mixed reactions. My personal favorite was from a boutique dress shop in Alexandria, which I called to schedule a shopping appointment in early December. After hearing that our wedding date was in April, the woman on the phone cautioned, in what I thought was a rather condescending tone, “You know, it usually takes six to nine months to order a wedding dress. We might be able to find something for you off the rack.” Oh noes! Not off the rack! I ended up canceling that appointment after I found the perfect dress at another store.wedding dress shopping, foreign service wife, foreign service blog, fs bruJanuary 2012: Surreptitiously plan and create blog. Outside of work, life is consumed by wedding planning and Spanish. Decide to take a break from Spanish until after the wedding.February 2012: Attend a wonderful engagement party thrown by husband’s best man. Pack up my old apartment and move to new apartment. Mail wedding invitations. Spend free time unpacking and making trips to IKEA.moving apartments, moving overseas, foreign service wife, foreign service blog, fs bruMarch 2012: Celebrate pending nuptials at my lovely bridal shower and fabulous bachelorette party! Husband (then fiancé) does the same at a bachelors’ gathering. Gradually pack and move husband’s belongings from his old house into our new apartment. Finalize all things wedding.April 2012: Get married! Celebrate with a “minimoon” (aka mini honeymoon) lest husband miss precious class time from language. Move last bit of husband’s belonging to our new apartment. Launch blog. Begin process of establishing new, married identity and getting into the system that is the federal government bureaucracy. Finally notify employer of plans to move overseas.foreign service wife, foreign service blog, fs bru, eligible family memberThat just about brings us up to date. Working full time, planning a wedding, moving (across state lines), moving (internationally), changing careers and learning a new language — none of these life changes are chaotic in and of themselves. Even two or three of these things are manageable with minimal stress.All these changes at once, however, could lead to chaos. Good thing I’m organized.Visit The Perlman Update this Friday, May 4 to read about other Foreign Service families’ chaotic experiences.

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

20 thoughts on “Foreign Service Blog Round Up: Chaos

  1. Congratulations and best wishes for many many years of married bliss! And welcome to the FS! Your organizing skills will serve you very well in this nomadic existence – can’t wait to hear about your first impressions and adventures from El Salvador!

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    1. Thank you! I’m hoping that my need to organize/plan everything is challenged a bit, given that unpredictability and adaptability seem to go hand in hand with FS life. Where are you headed after Mozambique? I’ve skimmed through a few posts on your blog but it wasn’t readily apparent.

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    1. Thank you so much! I’ve heard (or I should say “read,” rather) nothing but kind words and encouragement from everyone. It seems like a great group and I’m excited to be a part of it.

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  2. Welcome to the FS. I’ve been there too. When we married (almost 10 years ago now) I too had a six month period where everything in my life changed: moved to a new country, bought a house, planned and was in a wedding, started a new job, oh and there was a minor health scare too (all is/was fine) but nothing like a handful of drs appointments with all that just to shake things up a bit more. Things are more calm now, but they can still get crazy. Let the games begin!

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  3. Hey, I found your blog through the Perlman update! Being half of a young couple and completely unsure of everything you’ll be doing at a new post is completely fun and totally unnerving at the same time! I’m in the same boat- but 2 years into it and wishing could offer you some better advice 😉

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    1. Hey, I’ll take any and all advice! Not gonna lie — I was kind of hoping to see something Peeps-related (as in Peeps, the candy) on your blog when I clicked through. Unless I’ve missed them somehow (I only skimmed through a few pages). Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing about your upcoming adventures in Tanzania!

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      1. Ha, yeah that’s not the first time people have asked for Peeps, the marshmallows. You know, I don’t know what things are like in S. America, but it was tough to find work outside the Consulate here in China for me (and I know of others who have had similar tales), less I wanted to get into IT or manufacturing. It’s a rough but rewarding experience, and definitely takes strong personalities to pull it all together. Our spouses & partners are just as lucky to have us as we are them! And we are all lucky to have Amazon.com and DPO addresses.

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  4. Please help! Just learned today that my husband has been invited to A100 class, starts in July. Can you tell me anything about where families live? Trying to help my 3 kids understand this move.

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    1. Hello, and congrats! Other State Department spouses will have better knowledge about this (particularly ones who have moved to DC from elsewhere — my hubs and I were both local so didn’t have to relocate). I know that State provides housing in pre-furnished apartment buildings in the area — they are either Metro accessible or have shuttles.

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  5. Are you a member of the FS bloggers facebook group yet? If not, I’m an admin, you should definitely join. Email me your FB ID and I’ll invite you.

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