It’s been several weeks since we left Uzbekistan and returned to the U.S., and given that I have worked on this post multiple times without publishing it, I feel like it has been hard to focus on anything other than working, visiting family, and having fun. Our time stateside is ending in about a week; although I don’t see how that could possibly be, the calendar speaks the truth.
My husband and I woke for the final time in Tashkent last Thursday around 02:00, showered, dressed, ate the last random food in our fridge, and lugged our suitcases out to the expediter vehicle. I’d felt a moment of sadness as I walked through the empty rooms of our house, and said goodbye to each room individually. After the baggage was loaded, I stood in the front yard for a moment trying to be present. I gazed at what had been my home for just over two years, and said my goodbyes and thanks.
On Friday, May 1 I finished my sixth and final week of consular training at the Foreign Service Institute. At the beginning of the week I could clearly sense a change in the air, an upshift in gears. The renewed urgency was palpable, something I could almost taste.
This past week was my favorite yet during consular training. Partly because we worked on passports, nationality and citizenship, and I got a perfect score on my exam. Plus we started our final module on special consular services, which to me is fascinating (i.e. prison visits and death notifications).
This week I reached the two-thirds completion mark of my consular training, and I am happy to report that I am feeling well and healthy and have still not missed any sessions.
I have had relatively severe insomnia from time to time over the last several months, and twice this past week I awoke near to my necessary departure time with my alarm in my hand, turned off. Thank God for quick showering, dry shampoo, and a sense of humor.
As of today, I’m halfway finished with my six week consular course.
It is kind of a crazy thought. All that’s standing between me and the day I depart for Uzbekistan is the remaining three weeks of consular tradecraft, and an additional two weeks comprised of security training, administrative time, my packout and consultations. No days off, and no lolly-gagging. It seems like the closer I come to getting on the plane, the faster the clock begins to spin and the longer the to-do lists grow.
On Monday, March 23, one business day after passing my Russian final assessment, I began basic consular training, otherwise known as ConGen.
The first two weeks have been dedicated to non-immigrant visas. This means visas for non-U.S. citizens to come here for the purposes of business, tourism or study. After six and a half months of Russian language class, I’ve really been looking forward to learning all of the ins and outs and regulations of how immigration law really works – in English!
This past Monday marked the start of ConGen, the six week training that prepares consular officers for overseas work in embassies or consulates with visas, passports, and American Citizen Services.
While I was in my class today completing a module on non-immigrant visas, my first travel orders cable came through! It was in response to the request cable I sent in February, in which I proposed a PCS (permanent change of station) plan routing me, my husband, and all of our stuff from Washington DC to Tashkent, via New York City and Frankfurt.
Yesterday at noon I underwent my final speaking and reading assessment for Russian, otherwise known as the end of training test (EOT). I did manage to pass and receive the 2/2 I need to go to my assignment this May at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This is how it happened.
Today was my last official full day in LRU 100, better known as the 28-week Russian introductory + basic course.
In order to help me prepare for my final assessment, my instructor and last remaining classmate BB put me through a kind of “murderboard”. For nearly two hours they peppered me with questions on democracy, economics, human rights, current events, terrorism, education, mass media, public transportation, immigration, ecology, American values, hobbies and yes…even kangaroos. (Because I did my postgraduate degree in Australia, I suppose it was fair game!)
Last Thursday was a snow day and federal government offices in the Washington DC area were closed. This included the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington where I’m completing my Russian course.
Watching Facebook friends post pictures of their paid snow day frolicking, I felt the urgency of a clock ticking down. According to the calendar, I was in week 26 of a 28-week Russian class.
Last weekend I came down with a cold. My husband was out of town and it was snowing outside, so I got busy with one of my most popular tasks since last fall: sorting items in preparation for my upcoming move to Uzbekistan. While conducting another epic scan-and-shred fest, I came across the journal that I wrote during the Pre-Service Training (PST) which preceded my Peace Corps Volunteer service in the Republic of Macedonia.
Yesterday, six weeks out from the end of my Russian language studies, I had a progress evaluation to measure how close I am to demonstrating the 2/2 level of speaking and reading in Russian that my new job in Uzbekistan will require. The results were unofficial, and the evaluation was conducted at the language department level rather than at the institute level. However, it’s important for instructors and learning consultants to see how their students are progressing.
Over the last few weeks since the holidays, my focus has begun to shift towards finalizing my Russian studies (I just concluded week 21 of 28), and preparing to depart for Tashkent in less than four months.
This month has been correspondingly busy on the administrative side. The year unfortunately started off with a young lady sliding in the snow and rear-ending my car as I sat at a stop sign waiting for traffic to pass so I could make a right turn out of a parking lot. She did $1,700 worth of damage and then became escalated, hysterical and unreasonable (all conditions I tolerate, but barely), culminating with her dodging my calls. However, my insurance company (props to Travelers!) hunted her down and forced her to be liable. Additionally, I was not injured, nor was she (or the two small children in her vehicle), and all ended well.