Yesterday i was talking to a good friend who has considered taking the FS exam in the past. i asked her if she had registered for the new test this fall, and she surprised me somewhat with her response. She told me that after hearing the bureaucratic hell that i'm going through right now in figuring out insurance, moving, and the like, she wasn't so sure that she wanted to go through with it. Basically, she was waiting on me to give some positive reviews of the Foreign Service before she tried to walk the same path.
It was an interesting perspective, and it made me think. i'm reminded of a passage at the end of Pride and Prejudice, where Elizabeth, "agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy, than felt herself to be so; for, besides the immediate embarrassment, there were other evils before her." Of course, i'm not engaged to a rich man i previously hated, merely about to embark on what is a dream job by all accounts, but the immediate evils of paperwork and wading through piles of insurance policies and financial plans are weighing heavily on my mind. Everyone i know who is currently in the FS loved the training that takes place in DC, and almost everyone seems to get a first post that enthralls them. At the same time, job descriptions vary so widely by embassy that, unless i'm issuing visas in my first post (a distinct possibility), i really have no clue what i will be doing once i start my actual job.
As much of a long-term planner as i am, this prospect terrifies me a little. The Foreign Service is all about frequent moves and unplanned-for events, things that are somewhat anathema to me. However, it's also about travel, flexibility, intellectual and cultural interaction, and politics - all things i love. i think i'm going to get a rapid upgrade in my skills at adaptation.
Right now, i'm surrounded by most of my books (438 according the spreadsheet i have open) and the three sets of china that are waiting for the appraiser's visit on Monday. In the next few days, i will post a loose timetable for what will happen to me once i move to DC, as well as a guide to some of the terms i'll be throwing around in the future. In the meantime, it's time to move on to sorting through the inherited quilts.