Well, after days of research, talking to current FS people, friendly advice, reading online postings, and general "gut feelings," I have created a list of countries I would like to serve in. The list is in preferred order and takes into consideration size of post, danger level, availability of fun things to do, housing choices, post moral, and of course financial compensation. Each post has a different level of income associated with it, and all these factors play a part in where I want to be assigned. After a point, I just decided that I have to trust that I will get a good assignment and then make the most of it. Not many people in my OMS (remember what that stands for??) group are very interested in the African countries, so I might get one of my top choices since my top 4 picks are Africa.
Here they are in order:
2-Freetown, Sierra Leone
3-Ibidjan, Ivory Coast
8-Tel Aviv, Israel
My top 4 choices were chosen because of African culture, danger pay, and good reports of post morale. Most of them also have interesting things to do nearby. I chose Honduras and Guatemala because of the possible Spanish language training offered and because I think that would be a beautiful part of the world to see. After that, the countries are ranked in order compared to where I would want to go if I HAD to chose places and I ranked them in order of where I didn't want to go and put the most desired on the top of the list. We usually get assigned to our top 1-4 choices, so I don't think my middle list of countries will be very important, but I would rather go to Tel Aviv or Istanbul than Bahrain or Sweden.
I think it's amazing that I am even discussing these countries. Six days ago I could not even tell you where most of them were on a world map! I mean, I could tell you where Africa was, but Bahrian? (after researching Bahrian, I really didn't want to go there! Very boring, not much to do, high danger and it's on an isolated island)
I have spent this Sunday at home and it feels good to slow down a little compared to the hectic schedule of the weekdays. Yesterday (Saturday) I managed to go shopping downtown with a new friend from class. She knows the area so she navigated the Metro. (although since we were talking so much, she managed to get us on blue line instead of the orange line and we had to get off and switch trains!) I purchased a mini-wardrobe, and that was really necessary since I am missing my UAB (air) shipment and am running out of business clothes. For those of you who know me well and know how much my running has affected my life; I'll tell you that I finally figured out why my old clothes don't fit. I bought clothes two sizes smaller that what I have in the closet!! The beauty of running!
Speaking of running....I was happy to get back to running on Monday and Wednesday this past week. It had been two weeks since I last had a chance to put on my running shoes and I felt glorious getting outside and running about 3 miles. I decided my training routine would be "every other day." Well, Friday I was too exhausted to run, Saturday I walked about 5 miles getting to and from the Metro, and Sunday it rained all day. I might have to re-think the "every other day" idea to "run on days when it does not rain!" This is NOT sunny Texas, that's for sure.
Ok, enough for now. We find out where we will be assigned at a special ceremony on April 15th. Until then, it's wait and see! If you want to check out personal reports of some of these countries from people who have lived there, go to "Tales from a Small Planet" and you can read all the personal stuff. You will have to enter a password, but it's free and the reading is interesting.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world!