Do Your Homework

Wow, I can't believe it's been two months since my last post here! I feel bad for neglecting this blog, but the truth is, with Russia off my mind for a little while, I haven't had much to say. My life right now isn't very Foreign Service-y (unless you consider the fact that I wouldn't exactly be living back home with my parents if we weren't in the Foreign Service...).

If there's one thing I've learned in the past two years, however, it is this: when it comes to the Foreign Service, you must always, always, always do your homework. Never take anything for granted. Never assume that because something happened one way for someone else you know (or even multiple somebodies) that it will happen that way for you. Never assume that someone else is looking out for your best interest, even as a first-tour officer on a directed assignment. Never leave anything to chance, because chances are, it won't go your way.

You see, for the past two months, I'd basically said goodbye to Russia. Frankly, if I never went back again, that would be okay with me. Russia and I never really hit it off, and while I have no regrets about my experience there, I don't necessarily need to repeat it. John had come to the conclusion that if he (not we, he) went back to Russia after the baby was born, it would only be for a few weeks to a month. What we wanted to do was cut our time there short by two months, because going back to Yekaterinburg with an infant doesn't really appeal to me. Unfortunately, it looks like that is exactly what is going to happen. Unless, of course, I want to stay behind with an infant and a four-year-old for two months and pay for my own housing. Which, compared to taking a newborn to a city I have already deemed unfit for medical care (despite what Moscow believes), may be the best option.

It's a very long story, but basically, our request to curtail (leave post early) was denied. So this is just my reminder to any families out there who are considering the FS, or are already in it and are considering having a baby: do your homework, because no one else is going to do it for you.


  1. Oh no! I'm sorry you have to go back :(

  2. It seems to me that you should be eligible for Separate Maintenance Allowance if you don't go back. It's probably not enough to pay rent, but it does help. I would look into that before making any decisions. Contact the Unaccompanied Tours person at FLO. And yes, you definitely DO have to do your homework, says a person who took a six-month old to a bass-ackwards African country because she didn't know any better...

  3. Mara, I am so sorry to hear the request got denied. SMA is for voluntary separations (hence the ISMA for involuntary ones) so it is definitely an option, the only question is whether it's enough to pay the bills. Good luck figuring everything out!

  4. So sorry you may have to go back :( hope you enjoy your family over the holidays! And that the New Year will bring you a lot of nice surprises!

  5. What a disappointment. Here's hoping that better news will come your way soon, or that those two months will slide by quickly.

  6. I'm so very sorry to hear that your plans have been scuppered. As an EFM hoping to start a family, I will be sure to heed your warning about doing my homework... I hope the coming months will pass quickly for you and that much better things await you in 2014.


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