In 2015, I started a series of blog posts called “Your Questions Answered” (YQA) to address questions the blog was receiving via email and social media. I would answer the emails directly, but would also turn the most repeated or unusual questions into blog content tagged “Your Questions” in the hopes a wider readership could benefit from them. This is also fun for me because it gives me new topics to write on, and ones I know (at least one person!) will be excited about.

I continue to receive questions every month. If you’d like to have your question answered, and potentially featured in an upcoming blog post (always anonymously and without attribution), please send it to askcollectingpostcards@gmail.com.

Below is a roundup of YQA posts, and the themes I answered questions about in each volume.

Photo credit: CMUSE.org

Volume I – August 2015:

  • My daily routine during my first consular tour in Tashkent;
  • How language training prepared me to live in Uzbekistan;
  • The difference between preparing to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer vs. as a U.S. diplomat;
  • and my biggest challenge during my first diplomatic tour.

Photo credit: Psychology Today

Volume II – June 2018:

  • Perks of working for an embassy;
  • Handling the distance from loved ones in the Foreign Service lifestyle;
  • Feeling at home overseas and the frequency of returning to the United States;
  • and how FSOs balance their personal beliefs with their obligation to represent U.S. policy.

Photo credit: Medium

Volume III – January 2019:

  • Managing household effects’ weight by avoiding clutter and unnecessary purchasing, and preparing for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move;
  • Tips for foreign language learning;
  • and an overview of political officer work.

Photo credit: Thepackersmovers

Volume IV – June 2020:

  • How candidates, including those at mid-career or without a lot of overseas experience, can frame their experiences during the candidacy process;
  • What bearing age and prior professional and academic experience have on being selected as an FSO;
  • About how Foreign Service spouses get mail overseas;
  • How beneficial it is to know another language before being hired;
  • Diplomats’ personal travel planning;
  • and the role of dual-citizenship on a Foreign Service candidacy.

Photo credit: CBS News

Volume V – November 2020:

  • How the Department decides which FSOs get language training and at what level, and in which languages for countries where more than one language is spoken;
  • What housing options do FSOs have when serving at U.S.-Mexico border posts;
  • How many tours can you fit into a certain number of years of employment;
  • and what consular duties look like beyond entry-level work.

Photo credit: Le Monde

Volume VI – May 2021:

  • The rewards of consular work;
  • Being single in the Foreign Service;
  • What I know now that I wish I’d known when I first joined the Foreign Service;
  • Finances and budgeting for FSOs;
  • and all about cars in the Foreign Service!

Photo credit: University of Notre Dame

Volume VII – May 2023:

  • Whether or not I felt prepared for my first diplomatic tour and why;
  • My policy on Zoom calls with prospective FSO candidates;
  • What in my background led me to the Foreign Service and how I studied for the assessments;
  • My views on dealing with the stress caused by this career;
  • How I think high school students could prepare for a future FS career;
  • and the book I read about this career that inspired me.

Sarah W Gaer

Author, Speaker, Thought Leader

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