Sunday, May 7, 2006
Following up on a recent request from a friend to write about what I've "actually been DOING," here is a bit of a snapshot of recent activities/events:
I am still learning Korean and this is still what takes up the bulk of my time. I am also trying to put together a 10-page paper talking about the two little places in North Korea that have been opened up to South Koreans and tourists. For those who are interested, these two places are a mountain where South Koreans go to hike and enjoy the natural beauty and an industrial complex near the DMZ where South Korean companies have set up some operations. The paper is for the "Area Studies" class that is a mandatory part of long-term language training at FSI, and theoretically I am supposed to have it finished in the next two or three weeks.
Being that I am finally within a relatively few months of my estimated departure date, I have started to think about the huge stack of things I have to do to prepare to leave DC and head out to Seoul. It's a long, intimidating-looking list of things ranging from "get personal property insurance that also covers your stuff while it's in transit" to "get an international driver's licence" to "ask for/find and gather together all of the official documents that people will need to see to make arrangements for things like packing your stuff and buying your plane tickets." Just the sheer number of things on the list is overwhelming. So naturally I was delighted to see that another FSO who recently did all of this had laid out the big stuff in a nice, straightforward manner. I also received a very helpful email from a friend and A-100 colleague who is also preparing for departure that contained a variety of phone numbers that will need to be called in the next couple of weeks. Hooray for other Foreign Service Officers!
Outside of things directly related to work, life has generally been pretty quiet. Two of my friends here in DC had birthdays this weekend, which we joyfully celebrated on Friday and Saturday evenings. This week was a good one in terms of having some really yummy meals at some of DC's better establishments (partially because of birthday events), but this is a double-edged sword because I am going to have to avoid eating out for at least the next week and a half in deference to the budget.
Next up: more of the same. Sorry to disappoint, but it can't be helped. I'll be studying and hopefully retaining some Korean, writing a paper (some of you may remember my gleeful words upon finishing grad school almost exactly a year ago: "No more papers!!" Yeah, I guess I was wrong on that one – please don't gloat), and trying to wrap my head around all of the necessary preparations for departure. I'll also be cleaning my apartment (it REALLY needs it) and hopefully still taking time to get together with friends and unwind. The glamorous and rivetingly exciting life of a Foreign Service Officer.