Greetings from the State Department ghetto (I didn’t make that up: please see this Washington Post article from 2011 — that being said, it is no misnomer): Oakwood Falls Church. There have been some nice updates since our last stay, two years ago, and we’ve enjoyed our first few days here. Scarlett is settling in pretty well and, to be honest, she seems like the biggest difference from last time. Read: complete déjà vu.
On the outside, everything looks exactly the same. Not only that, but we’re also running into the same people. A number of people from Grant’s A-100 training class are back and I feel like we’re constantly bumping into people he knows. While I don’t know all of his A-100 friends, we have seen quite a few people from Tashkent as well.
It is a bit strange to have had this somewhat crazy life in a different country only to return to the suburbs of Northern Virginia to then see all the people from the above-mentioned life. The most notable differences from our previous stay here are that the closest Safeway has completed its renovation, there is a Chick-Fil-A by said Safeway, and The Original Pancake House has been replaced by Dave’s Famous BBQ.
The largest change has been the fact that I can now take class at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), too! Woo-hoo! This is a privilege reserved for EFMs, so I didn’t qualify last time around. Thus far, we have had three days at FSI — one of orientation, two of class. The actual facility is like a small college campus and is very nice. The cafeteria even has sushi! Currently, all the Serbian students are in one class (all eight of us); in a week or two, we will be divided in half. We have a really nice schedule, which gives us a lot of free time. I spend most of it studying or taking Scarlett out on walks (although we made it to 2 Amy’s today! Sidenote: if you’re in DC and have never been to 2 Amy’s, you have no idea what you’re missing. Go. JT3, the coach of our beloved Hoyas, even stopped in to pick up some pizzas while we were there today).
Oakwood is furnished but I’ve found it lacking in a few crucial items: ice cream scoop, soup ladle, and tea kettle. As I’m spoiled with our cooking gizmos and gadgets, I’m really missing the garlic press and splatter screen. Some of my missing things will be remedied with the arrival of our unaccompanied air baggage (UAB), since we had extra weight and Grant managed to fit in a number of our favorite kitchen items. We don’t know when that will happen, however, since the company didn’t respond to our first email about coordinating a delivery time and we’re still hoping to be moved to another apartment soon, in which case we’d rather get our UAB delivery post-move. Ah, the complications of moving halfway across the world… although the State Department does make things easier.
Right now, life is good; look for future posts complaining about my lack of language skills, in a week or two. That being said, I am very excited to learn Serbian and be able to speak it with Grant. In certain situations, it could be like speaking in code… which is awesome.