Tuesday, February 25, 2014 0 comments

Validation - I am Where I Should Be

Since I can't really share this with anyone because I don't want to sound like a gloating jerk...I feel like I should write it down less I burst. I can deal with not sharing things with people as long as I can write it down somewhere.

You know those moments when you feel validated and know that you're doing what you should be doing? That. was. today.

Today, I went to the Bulgarian embassy with my colleagues and I had a legitimate conversation in BULGARIAN with the ambassador and some of the other diplomats. Here I am, 6 months into Bulgarian training (out of 8 months total of training) and talking about the refugee situation in Bulgaria with the ambassador of Bulgaria in BULGARIAN o___O

The other diplomats asked me if I ever went to Bulgaria which I proudly responded to with a no :)

They said that if I got another 6 months I'd be fluent. What an amazing compliment! It felt good to know all my hard work is paying off. I was OUT for two weeks at the beginning of language training because I had mononucleosis and yet, I am kicking ass! At one point they were worried I wouldn't pass my test, but NOW- they want to see if I can surpass my designated language score.

Can I do it? I hope so. I will certainly try.

P.S. one of the Bulgarian diplomats lived in Latin America and spoke awesome Spanish. Switching between Spanish and Bulgarian was interesting :D
Friday, December 13, 2013 0 comments

As the Holidays are Approaching...

Както Коледа е близо...

It sure has been some time since I last posted. I think I probably have a lot more in my head than I am willing to write about or am able to remember to write. I finished graduate school May of this year. It was a worthwhile ride but I am happy that I am working again. Right after graduation from Columbia SIPA, Henry and I got married. The wedding was lovely and married life since then has been swell. Henry hasn't changed and this is good. I am happy to know I married the person I have grown to know for the past 9 years.
We did our honeymoon in Hawai'i which I have ALWAYS wanted to visit. Absolutely loved it and cannot wait to go back! We did a Samoan lu'au, we took  a helicopter tour of Oahu, and drove along the coast in a smart car. I saw some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen and had one of those moments where I honestly could not believe this is my life. All the hard work has paid off and I can enjoy the fruits of my labor! Then toward the end of our stay I got really sick and couldn't keep food down. Of course, everyone thought I was pregnant...hahaha. Alas, this was not the case! I was diagnosed with Gilbert's Syndrome. It's not deadly, but it does affect your quality of life until you are able to manage it. Like anything, this took time to do. I can now say it's about 80% under control. :)

I started work as an FSO in July. Orientation was insightful but more importantly, a time for me to get to know my incoming classmates/fellow officers. My particular class - the 173rd is very tight knit. All 74 of us are really like a family and I feel so blessed to have met these individuals. Everyone is so talented and has an interesting story. All of us speak at least two languages and I would say 75% of us came in with three (English being one of them). At the end of training I was assigned to Bulgaria! We are so excited and I feel very lucky to have gotten a country in a region that I have never visited (aside from my two week stint in Denmark for COP15, but that's Western Europe). Henry and I hope to do some traveling while there. I have two friends serving in Berlin who we want to visit and we hope to make a few weekend trips to Istanbul.

Bulgarian class is going well. I am supposed to reach a 2/2 in reading and speaking by mid April. I basically have to be able to interview people for visas IN Bulgarian by the time I depart to Post. I have 8 months to do this! Honestly, our FSO's are amazing. How is it that time and time again we meet these ludicrous expectations? I am not sure, but I can say that possibly motivation, our A-type personality and ambition has something to do with it. Some weeks are really tough but overall, it's been a worthwhile ride. Sometimes I worry ALL of this was a dream. I never thought while I was growing up in the South Bronx in a household where English was not spoken and with parents who only made it to the 5th grade that I would attend Columbia, let alone become a diplomat.

I guess we shall see what else is in store for me... :)

Happy holidays my dear friends!

Весела Коледа скъпи приятели!
Sunday, April 14, 2013 0 comments

Gratefulness: Reason #2

I had forgotten I meant to continue this act of writing down the things/people I am grateful for. Here goes:

Reason #2:

I am grateful for my fiance (aka soon to be husband) who, since we were teenagers always encouraged me and supported me, through the good, the bad and the ugly. He is someone who has been understanding when most people would not have been and who is constantly pushing me to challenge myself. He makes the unbearable, bearable. I love him from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to our life together!
Saturday, March 16, 2013 0 comments

The End is Just the Beginning

Have you ever had one of those moments where you can't believe that all your hardwork is finally paying off? I feel as though for the past 10 years I have just been working and working and now everything I had work towards is actually happening. While it would have been easier to handle these changes incrementally, I can't complain because I am grateful that I can finally reap what I have sown.
Monday, February 18, 2013 0 comments

Let's Catch Up and a Lesson on Gratefulness

I certainly have not taken the time to update so I thought it wouldn't hurt to do so (what a good way to procrastinate). This semester is definitely a nice reprieve from the last three semesters I have had at Columbia SIPA. With a Monday -Wednesday schedule I am able to focus on wedding planning and this is a huge help! Last semester I could not focus on it at all and felt really tired. Of course, last year but especially last Fall was tough. My sister had gastric bypass surgery and had a difficult recovery. However, she was weighing over 360 pounds and it was becoming a health risk. Yet, we did not expect it to be such an uphill battle. At one point, she could not keep food nor drink down. I had to take her to the hospital to get an IV put in and I slept on those awful hospital chairs in order to watch over her. All the while I was dealing with mid terms and papers. Oh - and this happened right before Thanksgiving.

Our parents aren't living in the US right now so she really had no one else. Most of our extended family is full of hypocrites who talk behind your back and don't help you, but yet want to take credit when they see that despite this you have managed to become a successful person. Then, I got hit with more problems/worries. My mother's husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Currently, I have a feeling he won't make it till March as he can no longer eat. At least I was able to see him over winter break. However, this means that we need to consider funeral, burial and all costs associated with his inevitable passing.

Today, I had lunch as usual with my friend Sean and he gave me a great idea that may help me cope with all the things surrounding me that I cannot control. I should take the time to write one thing I am grateful for every day. Of course, it has to be different each time but this is an easy exercise that will assist me in brightening my outlook on life. Sometimes we get too swamped or overwhelmed that we forget to appreciate the good things in our lives.

Here goes:

I am grateful for: having a mother who despite lacking a childhood (worked since age 9) and any family support always loved me, encouraged me and never put me down.
Sunday, July 8, 2012 0 comments

I Love my Life!

After talking to a good friend today I realized that I need to set the record straight. Yes, initially Jakarta was shocking and at times overwhelming, but I love being here. I've fallen for Jakarta and HARD. Indonesia in general is fantastic. Life here is so different from back home. I enjoy what I do at work, I love the food, I am more fit and healthier (after I got the breathing issue under control it's been smooth sailing), I've made tons of friends and I am happy! Is it sad that I don't miss home? I really don't miss it at all. I know I am in the right career because I enjoy this lifestyle.  I have traveled to Singapore and other parts of Indonesia. Bali is next weekend, ah so excited!

I can't believe it took for me to go to the other side of the globe and to work for my government to realize how unhappy I was. Jakarta, you have opened my eyes to how wonderful life can truly be. I have done so many things here I didn't do back home and have experienced so many wonderful things. I did yoga for the first time here. I have a cook here who cooks me delicious and healthy meals. I've become very feminine and definitely enjoy shopping in a way I did not back home. I wear makeup and dress up. I have attained a self confidence that I didn't know I could possess. I've got my drive back and am constantly planning and working towards goals...I do not only feel like the old me but better than that - a new and improved me.

I love my life! I don't want to leave...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1 comments

The Joys of Living in the Tropics and Working for the Gov't

So Jakarta continues to push my limits while the Embassy continues to support my growth as a professional. For the past few days I have been dealing with bed bugs and let me tell you, it is not fun. Luckily, there was a unit available and we were moved as soon as it was confirmed that we had them. It's been two days and things seem better, but I am still a little paranoid about the bugs. I expect that with time, the paranoia will ease.

Work has been intense as we get further into the summer and we are planning for July 4th celebrations. Also, a lot has to be taken into consideration for when Ramadan begins as it will affect many of our deadlines because people tend to not be around at this time. I am definitely looking forward to July 4th, live music, food and over 800 people - should be a good time!

Today, I went to a cocktail reception at the DCM's residence that was for young professionals at the Embassy (mainly those on their first or second tours). I was very happy to get to know more of my colleagues outside of work, especially those in other sections or cones. I also had the great privilege of meeting a mid-level management officer who was also part of the Pickering Fellowship when he was younger. The Pickering fellowship is more or less the sister program to the Rangel program that I am in. We hit it off right away and he asked me if I had a mentor. Well in my experience, it takes a village to raise a child and so I believe I have had various mentors throughout my life. Therefore, you can never have enough of them! So I most certainly took up his offer to be his mentee. I am excited to learn more from him and to see him in DC next summer when I start A-100.
Me and officer Clayton