Flag Day

It’s taken a few days for it to sink in, because it doesn’t really feel “real” yet, so here’s how my trip to DC went and how we found out where we are going in May:

I flew into D.C. on Saturday morning. My hubby met me at the airport and it was sooo good seeing him after being apart for two weeks. We had brunch, ran some errands, and relaxed a little at his apartment until mid-afternoon when we left for an informal friends and family gathering of some of his A100 classmates. All in all, it was a fun afternoon sharing in the same nervousness and excitement of some of the other spouses, and getting to know his warm and welcoming classmates. Afterwards my hubby and I went to see the Zoo Lights at the Smithsonian Zoo.

Sunday and Monday went by in a blur- we watched some football on Sunday, and Monday my husband’s mom, dad, brother, and brother’s fiancĂ©e came to town so we all went to dinner together.

Tuesday I purposely tried to stay as busy as possible to keep my mind off of Flag Day. I worked out, ran errands, and got my hair done. My in-laws came to pick me up to go to the ceremony. We got there super early, which gave me enough time to let the nerves get the best of me. Finally, the ceremony started.

Speeches were short and sweet because everyone wanted to know where they were going already! There was one country we were pretty sure we were going to get, and quite honestly I was shocked when my husband’s name was not called. Finally, around a third of the way through, my husband’s name was called- folks, we are going to Kyiv, Ukraine!!

After the ceremony there was a little reception, and then we went to a Russian restaurant with Ukrainian food- in fact, our server was from Kyiv! Needless to say, I am so happy and relieved that we are going to Kyiv!! It was high on our list of places. The city has good public transportation, I get a break from hot and humid weather (yesssss!!), and there are plenty of wonderful travel opportunities only a short flight away.

Now that I know where we are going, I have been busy getting cold weather clothing and beginning to take online lessons in Ukrainian. I am determined to know as much of the language as possible by the time we move there!

Bid List

Tuesday, on his second day of A100, my husband received the official bid list. The amount of countries on the bid list for IMS was 1 country for each IMS candidate in his A100 class. Surprisingly, there were countries on the list that I had been reading about recently on various Foreign Service blogs. He told me Tuesday evening that he needed to turn the bid list in with his rankings high to low on Thursday, so I spent an hour or two researching posts before I called it a night.

After spending the majority of Wednesday researching pretty much every post on Tales From Post and other blogs, I responded with my list in order from top to bottom ranking.

Later that night we FaceTimed and talked through the pros and cons of each post, and even looked at YouTube videos together of a good amount of cities to get an idea of the downtown areas, streets, and basic vibe (done by real, everyday people, not a visitor’s center). In the end, after almost 2 and a half hours of negotiation, we ranked each city from top to bottom.

We both feel good about our rankings, and now fingers crossed we get a post that is at the top of the list!!

A side note, the week has gone by pretty quickly, and I am not as sad/blue as I was on Sunday. FaceTime and being generally busy at work helps!! Also, I am amazed at how the house is strangely still clean and I spend not even a fraction of the time picking up stuff/tidying up in the morning as I usually do with my husband away:)

A100 Starts..

Well, my husband left this morning for DC. A100 starts tomorrow, and he has to check into his temporary apartment, attend a happy hour with his training class tonight, and somewhat settle in before he starts his new job as an IMS bright and early tomorrow! Training should last 22 weeks, according to his paperwork, which means that we will be leaving for post in April (I think..)

In other news, these past few weeks have been busy for my husband with travel, seeing friends, shopping for last minute items for A100 training, getting the official offer of employment and travel orders, sorting out housing in D.C., and saying goodbye to his wonderful coworkers he’s had over the past 3 years.

On my bucket list for Florida was to see Naples and St. Augustine, so we took a quick day trip to Naples and also went to St. Augustine for my husband’s birthday earlier this month. We took a trip to California last weekend to see my brother, grandma, my dear college friend, and my husband’s cousin and his family. This weekend, we saw his best friend and his wife, and we celebrated Thanksgiving with some good friends here in Florida.

It is bittersweet to have training start right after Thanksgiving, as I had thoughts of “this is going to be my last Thanksgiving in the U.S. for a very long time.” It must be the full moon right now, but I am very emotional about “lasts” of things in America and having to live here in Florida while my husband is in D.C.

Little things, like doing laundry yesterday and opening my husband’s sock drawer and finding it empty have brought tears. And goodness, when we drove to the airport this morning I was a mess.

Being apart from my husband for 4-5 months is going to be rough, but I seek solace in the fact that, in addition to Face Time, I will see him in 2 weeks for flag day, then about a week and a half later for Christmas. In January, my mom and brother will visit for about a week, which should keep me busy. My husband still has to sell his car and motorcycle, and tie up some loose ends, so he will be making a couple of quick weekend trips here before we leave for post.

Well, that’s about it for now. I will post again later this week when we receive the bid list- I am very excited to see what cities and countries will be in it!!

The Journey Begins

Welcome to my blog!!  For those of you who are not familiar with the term “Trailing Spouse,” it refers to a person who follows their spouse (or significant other) for a job opportunity.   In my case, I will be following my husband for the adventure of a lifetime – traveling the world together!!

We found out this month that he was offered the position of an Information Management Specialist with the State Department.  At this time, we do not know where we are headed – we will find out in December.  All I can say is that this process has been loooong (over 2 years since he applied!!).  My husband has lived in quite a few countries, so he is familiar with expat life abroad.  I, on the other hand, have lived in the U.S. my entire life so this is brand new to me.  To prepare myself, I have been reading blogs of other trailing spouses and FSOs to get an idea of what life might be like living abroad.  Those blogs have been tremendously helpful and have eased my anxiety (somewhat) of living the life of a trailing spouse.   This is the reason I started this blog – to share my experiences as a trailing spouse living abroad (in addition to giving friends and family updates on our lives of course).

Some of the challenges of being a Trailing Spouse are moving every 2-3 years (check, for all of my adult life this has been the norm), not knowing where you are headed to next (check, I have not planned a move more than 6 months in advance, so this is the norm), and living in a country where you most likely do not speak the language or know the social norms/culture (ummm well does South Florida count? j/k ).

Of course nothing can truly prepare you for this life as an expat trailing spouse, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that my experiences thus far in my 37 years of life have given me an idea of what life is like living abroad.  My dad is from South America, I grew up and have lived in areas with a fairly diverse population, I have traveled to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Central America. I have lived in dry and mild climates (California), hot and humid climates (South Florida), as well as climates with four seasons (Boston). South Florida in particular has prepared me as most of the population is from another country, so it is common to hear Spanish, French, and Russian in my local grocery store and apartment building. My husband’s family also lived abroad in a similar situation moving every 2-3 years for 20+ years, so I have been soaking up advice from them.

My husband is a little over a month away from leaving for A-100 training, so we have lots to do – sell items we do not wish to keep, figure out what we intend to keep, and figure out where the items we intend to keep go (storage, HHE, or UAB).  We have been looking up the best banks to have an account with overseas, hustling to get as much debt paid off as we can before leaving, and much more.  Since I need to work until the packout date (which can be anywhere from January to June, from what I can gather), it will be very difficult for me to keep focused at work because all I want to do is start this new adventure already!!  Stay tuned for the real, awkward, and funny tales of an expat living abroad.