Archive for September, 2011

State Department Foreign Service Evaluation Panel results

September 19, 2011

I received the letter today from State with the results of the QEP. Even with my competitive score on the test and high biographical score, I was not invited to the Oral Assessment. Because the evaluation is competitive, an invite to the Orals depends on the candidate pool. Disappointing, but all part of the process. Back to taking the test again in June!

Columbia, SC

September 14, 2011

I’m just getting around to posting this trip, although it has been several weeks since returning. There are definitely more remote parts of the country to try to get to. I always assumed that the capitol of a state wouldn’t be one of those situations. Columbia, SC apparently takes longer to get to from San Francisco than Indonesia does!

I left from SF early on a Sunday in order to be in Columbia at a reasonable time to make my meetings the following day for work. By early, I mean 6 in the morning. The idea was that I would make it to Columbia around 5 in the afternoon. At 2 am on Monday morning I actually arrived. That is 17 hours after the time difference!

The airport in Columbia is small, but quaint. There are white rocking chairs everywhere and only somewhere around 5 gates. As soon as you step out of the airport doors, the fun begins! It was 105 degrees with 90% humidity!

I picked up my rental car and headed to the downtown area. It is a very cute town (I realize it’s a city, but it really feels like a town). All of the buildings are well kept up and there is parking even in the downtown area. I spent most of my week there in the downtown/capitol area.

I can’t say there are a ton of things to discuss about Columbia, other than the fact that everyone was very, very nice. People say hello to you when you walk down the street. Business attire has a different definition in warm, damp climates. I don’t exactly own a vast collection of polo shirts, so I looked a little out of place with my suit on. Business meetings with people wearing khaki shorts are a strange site to see. The food in Columbia was decent, but with seemingly everything being deep fried, I found very few gluten free options. One day, I had chips and salsa twice because nothing else was available.

The one notable thing about Columbia is the Capitol building. While keeping all poiltics aside, I have to say that it was strange to see a confederate flag flying at a government building, and a monument to the Confederate States of America. I did take a little pleasure in the fact that within one day, I went from SF with rainbow flags to Columbia with the confederate flag flying. That is the kind of thing that makes the US so interesting to me. The diversity of all the states is a crazy thing to witness sometimes.