Yesterday (or today, if you happen to still be reading this on Monday – gotta love living in the future) our bidlist was due. Of course, ours was out by Friday, because why keep staring at the same thing for another few days when we know we won’t change a thing?
It seems like now it will be two anxiety-filled weeks while we wait for the results (some of what we bid later on this post!).
(If you’re new around these parts and are wondering “what the hell is a bidlist?” – basically our bids for our future posting are out. We get a list of positions available, check against our timing and requirements, if everything matches perfectly, you are allowed to bid in that position and create a “bidlist” – the State Department takes your preference into mind then places you where they want to place you – needs of service and all that – but if you’re lucky, you and State don’t disagree, no one else gives a better reason than you for going to a place and you get your top picks.)
The BAD: Karl’s career is in management, but due to our timing with when we leave Manila and his language requirement, he could only bid in other consular jobs (basically, he will do the same job he does now, which won’t add anything to his future career/experience to make him more competitive when he’s bidding for mid-level jobs).
As for the language requirement, since he’s only fluent in English, he needs to learn another language within the first two tours in order to get tenured – so that requires checking online language classes schedules at the training institute in DC, and only bid in those positions where the time we leave Manila and the time we arrive in DC coincide with the start of language classes, and the time language classes finish coincide with the time we would have to arrive at the future post.
The NEUTRAL: For his bidlist to be valid, he had to bid in 30 positions, but to be able to put 30 positions on his list, we pretty much had to bid in everything (save for 2 or 3) that was available to us. We also had to get creative – we have 20 business days of home leave that he is required to take. (For non-State people: Home Leave is time spent in the US. There’s a minimum time in between posts or 3 years, whichever is shorter, that you have to spend in the US – so you don’t lose your ties with the country — and time in training/work doesn’t count. So it’s a vacation of sorts, except for folks like us who don’t own a place in the US, it means we either have to pay for a hotel for four weeks, or hop from friends and family place during that time. In our case, Home Leave location is Seattle, which is where Karl is from – we can, however, spend home leave anywhere as long as it is within US borders, but State will only cover travel to what is your Home Leave state.)
Anyway, 20 business days of Home Leave is required, but if we did that, we would not get enough bids due to the odd timing, so we had to cut home leave in two parts – half after leaving Manila/before language training starts, half after language training starts/before arriving at post (second part being spent in DC, which is fine by us, since we both lived there well before Karl worked with State, so it’s also “home” for us). That was the only way we could get 21 “perfect” bids (we had one that was already perfect, and you’re allowed 8 that is “imperfect” – where you either leave current post one month early/late or arrive in the future post one month early/late).
The GOOD: The only reason “bidding in any and every single position available to us” was considered neutral is because what was available was not bad at all! Sure, we all have preferences, and some of us would HATE to live in a place that others would love to go to (for example, I’d die in Moscow’s cold winter, but if you love the cold, that might be a dream come true place for you). And at our final list? Sure we’re not equally excited about every place, but up to #20 in our list, we’re pretty ok going there… (And only one has a true winter – hi Canada, I’m looking at you!)
So what did we bid on after all? Karl said I shouldn’t share the cities (he’s too afraid he’ll get in trouble for me oversharing in my blog), but I can share the countries! (And I made an executive decision — since it’s my blog and I’m NOT associated with the State Department, except on the “being a wife” thing – that two cities are ok for me to share, because my hometown is in the list, eeeeek!!!)
So here it goes! We were able to bid in 6 (YES, 6!!!) positions in Brazil! And Rio is included on that list! Imagine, living near family? (It’s been 15 years! 16 by the time we leave Manila!) Living near the (clean) ocean again? Near the beach? Having this as my backyard?
Getting to run here anytime I want to?
SPECIALLY when that background for me is HOME. Considering how hard it’s been to make friends in Manila, and how we still don’t have a social circle (and I was one big social butterfly in DC), the thought of arriving in a place where I already have so many amazing friends, makes me way too happy!
Other places in Brazil were on the list too! Brasilia was also in there, and though it’s nowhere even near the ocean, I also lived 7 years there during my teen years, and have kept in touch with lots of friends (some who even came to my wedding), so it would also be an instant-social life!
And let’s not forget that Karl would learn Portuguese if we went to Brazil, and he would be able to talk to the rest of my family! Our kids could grow up knowing Portuguese too if Karl could speak it as well!
So yes, though we have no idea how likely it is that we’ll end up in Brazil, it’s still exciting that it’s even a possibility! (Please please please pray for us!)
For our other possible future locations? Cape Verde! (The only post in Africa we could bid on – but also another Portuguese-speaking country!) Argentina! (But seems like everyone and their dog wants to live there…) Chile! (Again, lots of people wanting to go to Chile, the skiing there is great after all.) Honduras! (It might be an odd country to put up top, but the reviews are great, everyone living there is happy and you have beaches nearby AND you get to live in a house, woot!) Peru! (It would be totally weird following Sarah’s footsteps from Manila to Peru, but living near the beach? Yes, please!) Nicaragua! (Again, like Honduras, people are super-happy there.) Mexico! (Lots and lots of Mexico posts, but we were able to keep the most dangerous ones off our final list, and what’s left is not bad at all.)
There were a few other places we bid on, but the list above easily covers almost 20 bids of our list, if not more (again, lots of Mexico). Let’s hope we won’t end up at the last 10 posts we bid on, but if we do, there’s nothing that we’re actually dreading, so we’re really really lucky about that.
As for the results, I *think* we should find out in 2-3 weeks. Fingers crossed!
Anyone else from State bidding on this last cycle too? What was YOUR top 5? (Or 10!) Feel free to email me the answers if you don’t want to make it public!