The FS BRU ... Is YOUR Next Home On This List?

As the end of summer draws near, bidding season has once again fallen upon us. You know, the time when emails start flying, noses turn brown, and the Foreign Service message boards are lighting up with requests for information on every post from Athens to Paris, Hong Kong to Buenos Aires ... and everything in between. It's these next few months when we start to see an influx of reviews of overseas life at Tales from a Small Planet. With friends sending out email messages on Facebook asking if we know of someone who's been posted here or yonder. And tail feathers raising and flaring as people become territorial over positions that they want ... though may not necessarily get.

A foreign service friend once told me, "Bid lists are for people who don't have friends." A bold statement, that probably has far more truth than tale, the higher one climbs in their career.

I never paid too much attention to the Embassies / Consulates people were asking about, primarily because until recently, nobody seemed to want to go to the places we'd previously been posted. We were "directed" to the New York Field Office for our first assignment, and three years later it took 37 bids (for those who aren't DS, that's 3 rounds of bidding) to get to our first overseas post. In Muscat, Oman. Where at that time, nobody (including me) even KNEW where it was, nor that it was such a jewel of an assignment.

Bidding IS different for each and every section within the State Department. For some folks, they'll spend their entire career overseas, with their only time in DC devoted to language training. Others, will opt to do an unaccompanied tour with a linked assignment afterwards (unlike those of us in DS). Some people take their bidding VERY seriously and truly exemplify worldwide available. Others take a look at the list and cross off anything that ... has a "-stan" at the end of it, is in the Middle East, has tropical weather, is a consumables post, doesn't have an APO, has an animal quarantine, makes you dress conservatively, doesn't let you import a left-side vehicle drive, is at altitude, has no high school at post, is an unaccompanied post, is in Africa, is in Europe, is in Asia, is in Central or South America, is domestic, is in a country with high every-day crime, is in a country with high terrorism, is in a country with a high COLA (cost of living), is in a country with danger pay ................ etc, etc, etc.

As a somewhat seasoned bidder, I've seen it all. And I can say with absolute certainty that bidding is like a box of chocolates ... you just don't know what you're going to get!

Last week Matt and I turned in our list for our next post. Our eighth tour ... and fourth consecutive bidding season. So I've been anxious to see the below links and what people thought of their current postings. As you read them, take note of the author's marital status, familial situation, number of pets, kids, and previous postings, to gain a broader depth of these bloggers opinions. Don't forget these ARE but one person's opinions. And you know what happens if you make any assumptions ...

Although called the Pearl of Africa, Uganda has not always been the perfect jewel of a post. Life in Kampala, a post with 25% hardship differential, has it's happy moments and not so happy times.

Naoma, blogging in Kenya, at Lees On The Go, shares her list. But let me spoil it for you ... she actually couldn't come up with 5! Though I'm not going to tell you which direction.

Spectrummy Mummy in Johannesburg gave us 10 of EACH. I was actually surprised with a few of these too.

Hannah is in Tripoli watching and living history in the making.

Alex got a negative comment after her review of living in Benin. Um ... hello. It's in Benin! As in ... in Africa. Negative comments not accepted!

Shannon and her son Alonzo BOTH wrote posts about Malawi. Let me just enlighten you. Unlike her son, spiders are in HER cons list!

Hooray for Half-Breed Outlaw to submit her take on living in Botswana. I didn't see any spiders on her list. So could it be your possibility?

Theresa is often asked about raising a child in Freetown, Sierra Leone. I like her answers!

This continent needs no commentary. Just enjoy their links from afar ... especially if you're DS!

Sunny writes at Fabling in Brussels.

Well, That Was Different in Vienna, Austria gives us her top TEN.

Erica tells us what it's like for her to live in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Life After Jerusalem lives in Estonia. And LOVES it. Though she does have one complaint.

What DOESN'T make Chela, at the Mas Alla, happy about living in Amsterdam?

Poppies and Polka Dots in Madrid, gave us 25! AND she knows my husband from Iraq!

Zoe, in Milan, wants us to believe that there are actually cons on her list. Whatev ...

A Fisher out of Water, in Shenyang, China gave us her list ... and it's BIG!

Stephanie in Hyderabad, India gave us her highlights ... and lowlights!

Lynne, at Like Nomads, in St. Petersburg had trouble coming up with a cons list.

Kolbi, in Chengdu, China wrote a really thoughtful list about her experiences. If you're a DS family, I also urge you to read her post on bidding ... which is spot on!

It's hard to come up with a list when you've JUST moved to a new post. Emily, at Our Life, in Sri Lanka sure did try!

Carla Runs The World in Manila finally wrote about a few of her cons ... and may have gotten a wee bit carried away!

Sara is also new to Manila, but managed to give a thoughtful list as well.

And Diane, at Mobile Home, who just finished a tour in Manila, gives us her perspective as well ... and said that despite writing this over a year ago, she wouldn't change anything she wrote!

Daniela, who just became an FSO (woo hoo!), gave us her insight on Delhi, India.

I LOVE the Middle East. It's where I would live if given any opportunity. As it's summer time, many of the bloggers in the Middle East are on their R & R's and missed this round up. But check in with Heather in Cairo, and Donna in Amman to get their takes too!

My friend Michele, at GlobeHoppers, who I know from Chennai, just moved to Amman a month ago. Her list isn't long here ... but as she grew up overseas, she could give us a laundry list of pros / cons of other places.

Melissa, at Just Us in Jerusalem, gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sadie just left Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. But she gives her three cents on living there.

And finally ... North, Central, and South America ...

In-Flight Movie gives us the pros and cons of living in Belmopan, Belize

Adventures of a Misplaced Texan may have moved back to DC, but she gave us her list on her previous posting in Ciudad Juarez.

Oh The Many Places We Will Go WOULD have written about her highs and lows in Guadalajara. Instead, she wrote about her brand new baby. Congrats!

3rd Culture Children has the record of moving to a new post and submitting a pros / cons list. Here she is in La Paz, Bolivia. Dealing with the altitude. At first I thought she wrote attitude ... and I was about to say, "welcome to my world."

Mom2Nomads in Costa Rica barely got her list turned in since she was on vacation. But it's a good thing she did because I know this is on a lot of people's bid list!

Want to know what life is like in Asuncion, Paraguay? Life is a Zoo in the Jungle will tell us all ...

Lisa in Tijuana will be leaving soon ... and she's already anticipating missing the tacos! Living in Virginia, I miss them too ...

I love the pros and cons of returning to Washington, D.C. from The New Diplomat's Wife. She really nailed how several of us have been feeling after life overseas!

And bringing it all together from an unaccompanied tour perspective ... is my friend Jen. Who reminds us that the unaccompanied tour DOES have its pros! She writes a true list if I do say so myself.

The next edition of the FS BRU will be out on Friday, September 7th, and the next Optional Talking Point is ... Travel Stories.

Have a funny story. A horror story. A story that includes vomit? We're all with the State Department where we know that nothing is ever easy. Tell us your HR tech's travel order debacle. Let us know how United really screwed up your travel plans. Let's see if your kids vomit as much as mine.

Remember, there's never a need to write anything new. If you have something you want to share, send me the link. Of course, if you've recently come back from an R&R and had something hellacious to write about, get on it!

Send your links to thefsroundup@me.com by Monday, September 3rd.

Until then ... happy bidding.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing resource. We're not bidding (yet) but with Class 2 clearances to deal with, it doesn't hurt to get an early start! Thank you so much for compiling this list. :)

Anonymous said...

Great, job, Jill!

Daniela Swider said...

This is awesome, Jill and so are you!. I tried to do this last year but I couldn't quite get it off the ground. I am so glad you were able to get it going and so many people participated. I think it's a wonderful bidding resource and the transition center/FLO/CLO folks should find a way to harness it because it's very useful to bidders.

Meg Welch said...

Didn't know about this before, but can give you a rundown of Chisinau if you still want to gather more.

Crystal said...

Jill, You always amaze me! Thanks for doing all this to keep our morale up and letting us commisserate : ) I am getting settled in Santiago and loving it. I will try to share a story for the next BRU. Thanks again and hope Sheridan is healing and feeling better! Crystal

Unknown said...

I'm so excited to read these, especially ones in Asia or Europe (I'm really looking forward to the Iceland one and China!)

My husband says he's never ever ever ever ever moving again. I've heard that many times in the last ten years....and we've moved just as many times :)

docreport said...

...Let us know how United really screwed up your travel plans.

Laughed out loud!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Jill, for all this work! Such a great reading! Very entertaining/informative... and I loved the maps!
Cheers from 'breathless La Paz"! :o)

Lynne said...

Jill, this is fabulous. Thanks so much for pulling this together, and I will certainly contribute for next month - no nagging required! I am grateful to say our nasty travel stories lean more towards massive diaper blowouts than vomit, as blowouts end when the baby grows up while vomit is forever.

Diane said...

I missed the boat sending an entry for Manila in time, but we're on home leave and I chase a one year old all day, so what can I say? although I wrote this a year and a half ago, I have nothing to add now that our tour is over. I will say that hosting in Manila varies widely, so is a pro for some and a con for others. http://www.mobilehomefamily.blogspot.com/2011/02/first-quarter-down.html

Diane said...

Housing, not hosting. Darn auto correct.

McKeatings said...

Can anyone write to me about life in Jakarta? Just got our flag yesterday. SO many questions!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what is it about the middle east that you love so much?

Unknown said...

Love this!! Hoping to try for a few of these places in the coming years. Missed adding my comments for Managua, Nicaragua, but maybe I'll get in there next time. Nevertheless, I have posted a lot about Nicaragua in multiple posts on our blog that can be checked out at http://thepiratessetsail.blogspot.com/

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