Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Serious Case of Foreign Service Senioritis

There's a common phenomenon among foreign service officers serving overseas. It's akin to what you might remember from high school - the senioritis that sets in the last few weeks before graduation. You know that each day brings you closer to your departure. And in the case of the foreign service, each day brings you closer to your next assignment.

For me, knowing that I have less than 4 months left in Bucharest has made it difficult to get really invested in my work. That's not to say that I'm slacking, it's just hard to get motivated. I've already started preparing for my next assignment in Baghdad. After reading Iraq-related cables and studying the Arabic alphabet in my spare time, visa interviews just don't hold much excitement. Maybe the NATO Summit that will take place in Bucharest in April will spice things up a bit.

Another contributing factor is the harsh winter we're having in Bucharest. I've never been overly impressed with Bucharest in the first place, but the cold weather and snow just adds to the general boredom I feel. My only salvation is that I joined a gym that's only a 5 minute walk from my apartment, but even that can require a great deal of motivation to bundle up and walk out the door.

So, even though I still have nearly 4 months left here, I'm already looking forward to getting back to the States. Of course I'm excited to go home to California in May for home leave, but I'm surprised at how excited I am to go back to D.C. I haven't quite figured out why. Maybe because many of my A100 friends are starting to trickle back to D.C. and it will be fun to hang out with them again (after 2 years of being scattered around the world). Maybe it's because life is a lot more "normal" and simple when I'm in training.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hooray for the USA

I’ve lived in Romania for almost two years now. During that time I’ve realized what I really miss about America. So here’s a list of I appreciate most about life in America.

Breakfast. I’m sorry, but a slice of ham, a piece of cheese and a tomato is NOT breakfast, it’s a sandwich. The next phase of American Cultural Imperialism should include the exportation of IHOP restaurants.

Variety. Whatever your particular taste is, you can find it in America. Whether it’s music, t.v. shows, clothes, furniture, food, etc. There are a ton of choices.

Convenience. It’s so easy to do things in America. Going to the grocery store, buying stamps online, paying your taxes through the mail. These are things I used to take for granted, but now I realize how unique a convenient lifestyle is.

Good service. Anyone who’s ever been to a restaurant in Eastern Europe will understand this one.

Shopping. As good as I’ve gotten at online shopping, it’s not the same thing. I love to walk into a big, clean, pretty mall and spend an afternoon wandering in stores, looking at stuff I don’t really need and trying on clothes. Don’t discount the power of retail therapy.

American television. Okay, I used to be a critic of the crap that’s broadcasted in the U.S. But after two years of watching the slim pickings of exported U.S. television shows, I miss watching Friends and Seinfeld reruns while eating dinner.

Softball. I miss the weekly games, even on the really cold nights. And hanging out at Moylan’s afterwards.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to home leave in May and training in D.C. in the summer.