With less than a year to go in my current post, it’s time to start looking towards tour #2. Earlier this week I received the official State Department confirmation of my second tour: my TMONE. It’s basically a diplomatic cable announcing your assignment to your current post and your new post. Come 2019, I will be headed to the US Embassy in Riga, Latvia!!
I’ll be the Cultural Attache, basically my dream job of representing American culture to Latvians through exchange scholarships, cultural programs, and more. It was my top bid and I feel incredibly lucky. Explaining to people where Latvia is located has been fun too.
Thankfully, I’ve known where I was going for my second tour for almost 6 months now. It’s been really nice to know this far in advance. Looking at pictures of my new home in Latvia has gotten me through some tough days at the border. Riga will be incredible and I am absolutely thrilled to live there for 2 years. My main criteria after the border were: 1. a big, vibrant city with things to do for singles, 2. somewhere with no security restrictions, and 3. in Europe. Riga is the perfect fit for me. I so look forward to walking through old town Riga, exploring all the restaurants and bars, not to mention the national parks, forests, and beaches of Latvia!
Bidding for my second tour in the Foreign Service was way different than I expected. Unlike in A-100, it’s your job to research each position and make sure the timing works. Doing this for 15 positions is challenging when you have to consider your limit of 78 weeks in training for entry-level officers, getting an in-cone job (whether that is consular, public diplomacy, etc), equity if you come from a hardship post, when language class starts, and personal preference. Oh yeah, I also had to do this during our busiest temporary work visa season (!)
The way my timing worked out is pretty standard for other public diplomacy officers I know. Language training and cultural affairs officer tradecraft will have me back in Washington come fall 2018. I’ll be living in DC again for about 9 months before moving to Riga. Getting paid to learn Russian makes me really excited, but also slightly terrified. I probably wouldn’t want that any other way though.
I’m kind of a nerd about bidding because I love to imagine where I’ll be in the next few years of my Foreign Service career. I still read a lot of post reports (talesmag.com is excellent) out of pure curiosity. It makes sense why I’m in this career… 🙂