Sunday, September 18, 2016

Great Post for Singles

It's bidding season. That time of year when Foreign Service Officers frantically research the list of projected vacancies, hoping to find the perfect at-grade, in-cone job at a post that suits their personal lifestyle. When a post profile says that a post is "great for families," it describes good schools and fun things to do for kids. When a post profile says that a post is "great for singles," it usually means there are a lot of bars and clubs and an active dating scene.

This may come as a surprise, but I don't particularly enjoy crowded bars and I'm not desperately seeking a husband. I don't claim to speak for all single female FSOs, but I can't imagine that I'm alone. So, here is what I consider to be a better set of criteria for a post that is "good for singles."

  • There are plenty of things to do on your own. There are festivals and museums. Hiking. Bicycling. Shopping. There are opportunities to pursue your hobbies.
  • You can go to a coffee shop, wine bar, or restaurant by yourself with a book and not feel awkward or completely ignored by the wait staff.
  • There are activities to do that don't require a partner and where you can meet non-work people. You can find a yoga or Zumba class. Join a book club. There are expat groups.
  • A single woman can walk around the city by herself without fear of being mugged or grabbed. 
  • The city is someplace your friends and family will want to visit.

I had started to write that I didn't think it was possible for a post report to describe a post in such a way to be useful for every possible variation of FSO. But then I deleted the sentence. Sure, it's possible. The first step would be for the Department to stop thinking about the diplomatic corps in outdated generalizations. Maybe that's a revolutionary idea for another blog post. For now, I'd be happy if we could update our thinking on what makes a "great post for singles."