Friday, March 1, 2019

Let's Try This Again: Where We're Going Next!

Sometimes, you make all the plans in the world and they fall apart for reasons outside of your control. This seems to happen with even greater frequency in the Foreign Service, probably because there are more than the average number of opportunities to make plans when your country of residence and job change every few years. We were no strangers to the sometimes fickle treatment of the Department of State, given how my initial job offer was frozen and then unfrozen before I even started and in my first tour I found myself furloughed during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Despite these experiences, M and I were still shocked to receive a call from Washington, DC informing us that our positions in our onward assignment, Baghdad, were being cancelled. In other words, jobs that we had accepted in March 2018 were now no longer options. We had made financial and life plans believing that we would be earning substantially more in Iraq. I've been studying Arabic for more than a year in preparation. M was happy to be getting a security clearance that could help him in future job applications. Both of us had been looking forward to serving in our roles in Baghdad.

The regular bid cycle where we would have normally looked for assignments was long past, so my Career Development Officer (CDO) had to whip up a "special bid list" just for me and my weird situation. People love to complain about CDOs, and there are some true horror stories out there, but mine is consistently amazing. She pulled together an excellent bid list in two days flat full of posts I would have been delighted to call home for my second tour.

Of course, at the end of the day, only one post could be our next destination. We just learned that post is... Seoul, South Korea! It feels surreal to discover a place we were trying to link to from Baghdad will now be our next tour anyway. I'll still be doing my Consular tour, so I'm looking forward to interviewing a lot of people for visas... in Korean! Yep, I even get a year of Korean language training to go with the assignment.

Of course, we were disappointed to lose our assignment in Iraq and our well-crafted plan. Yet, given what happened, we are so happy and grateful for this outcome. We're looking forward to spending some time at home getting to see our families and friends during training and ultimately moving to South Korea!


  1. Congrats despite the disappointment and crazy change of plans! Maybe when you are back in Virginia we could catch a cup of hot chocolate sometime (your schedule permitting).

    1. Thanks, Lillian! Yes, I hope you'll be in the DC area - I'll definitely have time.

    2. Yes! We are currently in the Baltimore area, so let me know when you head this way!

  2. Wish you were coming to Utah or I was coming to Virginia...sending congrats and hugs!!!