Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for June, 2009

Chugging along…

Posted by quirksalight on June 26, 2009

Since I’ve past the OA, it’s waiting, and waiting, and more waiting. At least i can get some stuff done, such as the medical exam for the medical clearance and the Korean language test.
Both and sort of scheduled…. the medical exams are on July 14th and 16th, which is fine. However, they want to schedule the Korean test on the 13th, and i’d rather push it back a little bit…. we’ll see. That’s still under negotiation.

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SPF 70, right….

Posted by quirksalight on June 26, 2009

I went biking last Saturday along the Potomac. It was in the afternoon, about 2:30pm, so I applied a liberal amount of SPF70 sunscreen, I even let it set for 30 mins prior to sun exposure! And less than an hour into the bike ride, which was in and out of the sun, I’m feeling some sensitive skin! WTF …. I even reapplied 30 mins into the ride, and this stuff is water and sweatproof. Grr…. SPF 70 my ass….
Time to add titanium dioxide or zinc oxide into my sunscreen regimen.

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Oral Assessment

Posted by quirksalight on June 16, 2009

I passed! With the skin of my teeth….5.30 out of 7.00, and the cut off was 5.25. Whew! I definitely will be scheduling a Korean language test to get the extra points (0.4).

There were 10 of us at Annex 1. 6/4 split, women/men. We were told that we were only the 2nd group to have more women than men. Of the ten of us, 3 passed, one econ, one public diplomacy, and consular (me).

I was so paranoid that I would oversleep, or get there late that I woke up at 4:30 am to be on the Metro at 5:58am. Then of course, I nearly missed the Foggy Bottom stop with my thoughts running frantically in little circles. Rushing off the subway, I had a good laugh at my own woolgathering, which actually calmed me down. That and forgetting to charge my cell phone made me feel that the crappy stuff had happened, so that things will be alright. Walking to Annex 1, I realized that my fear of oversleeping got me there 40 minutes early. Yup. I sat out in the courtyard for about 10-15 minutes before going inside. Still, I was the first one there and met the other test takers as they filtered in. At 7am, we were met by Crystal and Shannon; two amazing people who were awesome as they took us through the entire process.

First was the Group Exercise. We were all very lucky – our group of five just meshed amazingly well. Everyone participated and were engaged in the discussion. I know I spoke WAY too fast, but it didn’t matter. We came to consensus with plenty of time to spare. I passed this section.

After a bit of waiting was the Case Management. All the women took it the same time. Of the three sections, I found this to be the hardest. I’m used to processing information, but the hardest part wasn’t that. Instead, it was shaping my response and figuring out the details of what was being asked. I got a grasp on it, but a little too late. This one I failed.

The last section was the Structured Interview. With the scheduling, I and one other person had nearly 90 minutes of waiting while the others were at their interview or Case Management. Definitely not easy, waiting… my stomach definitely reflected my nerves…

Walking in, I knew that there would be three sections; motivation and background, hypotheticals, and past experiences. I knew that I was fumbling this; I would give an answer and realize later that I had a better one. I know a lot of it was sheer nervousness from the CM fumble, which I thought I would do well on. It wasn’t until the Past Experiences, where you get to pick a question out of a pair that I was able to get it under control and really engage the interview. At that point, I was able to be engaging, not sound stiff and wooden, and be passionate about what I believed in. In retelling of my past experiences, I was even able to toss a joke or two and got a response from the examiners! Even then, I knew that I was on the edge, with the rough start to the SI. So when given the opportunity to talk more at the end, I grabbed it and tried to explain why I wanted to be a FSO in a manner that felt like I was baring my soul to the world. I passed this section.

Waiting was excruciating. All of us sat in a room, trying to make small talk as we waited to be called out, one by one, but our attempts failed and we sat in an uneasy silence, jumping at the tiniest sound from the hallway. Midway through, I got called out by one of the examiners from my SI. Walking into the same room I had entered this morning for the GE, I was told to stand next to the wall. At this point, my heart jumped; and two other test takers walked in. As the lead examiner told us “Congratulations, you have …,” we all jumped and hugged each other, whooped and yelled. Apparently I was a little too loud, as one of the examiners hushed me, saying that not everyone had been told. But they understood, as both of the examiners had great big smiles on their faces.

We got the rundown of what’s next, got fingerprinted, and then headed out. Still feeling rather high from the excitement, but totally exhausted to boot.

One thing I would tell anyone who’s taking this is to be passionate. I honestly think as I got more animated and passionate about what I was saying in the Structured Interview, I became a stronger candidate. Also, seriously think what you want your interview to conclude with. I took advantage of it, and I am very glad that I did.

Now, clearance!

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An update!

Posted by quirksalight on June 4, 2009

It’s been a while, and I have no excuses. Well, I have plenty, if you really want, but I’ll hold off. (See, Cousin… it’s up!)

Readjusting to US life is an ongoing process. I have to admit the hardest thing to readjust to was the distance of places and things. The corner market doesn’t really exist in the suburbs and the bus stop is a mile away (I checked).

Basically, it’s the car factor. I sold my car when I left for Korea for several reasons, including that it was over 7 years old and I had no real clue if i’d be back in a year. So I’m currently carless, working out sharing times with other members of my family. Which means I’m home a lot more than I’ve ever been, which in it of itself is a major adjustment for me. 🙂

But it’s not bad. I’m working on gardening and trust me, there are plenty to mess with on the landscaping and plant raising at the familial pad. I’ve got my little garden (so tiny compared to my mother’s monster sized one!), and I’ll be using my engineering skills to save the future fruit harvest from the local wildlife. Apparently the proverbial most wanted in the garden are the squirrels and the birds. Totally nicked last year’s berries, peaches, persimmons, and pears.

And yes, the FSOA… June 15th! My own little D-day…

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