Sunday, March 23, 2014

IMS Training

IMS training kicked off with a week of Information Resource Management (IRM) Tradecraft. It was similar to the 3 weeks of foreign service specialist orientation except it was focused on the IRM part of the organization. The week was full of briefings on everything that will directly impact my new job.

This week starts the last of the 3 weeks we have for Microsoft system administrator training. This has been a good class because the training lab has virtual machines with mock post environments. We use the lab to work through State's standards and procedures for Active Directory, Exchange, and file and print servers (so far). It's not hard work but it isn't something I have much experience doing. The labs are nice since we'll be expected to just do it when we get to post.

Training is always helpful when it focuses on real use cases. It provides the opportunity to put hands on keyboards instead of training us with death by PowerPoint. There are briefings using Windows training modules covering the basics of server management. Fortunately more time is spent on instructor demos showing what we do instead of just talking about it.

We're going on some field trips this week to see some of the DC area offices that support us. I'm looking forward to this since we'll get to see some of the things we've only been briefed about. We'll only experience these offices through emails and phone calls when we're finally working at our embassies so it's good to put faces to names.

On the home front, we're still packing and getting ready to move from our house to a local apartment in a week and a half . Everything's going well on finalizing the sale of our house closing in mid-April. We've also received our apartment assignment in Stockholm and they provided some pictures. It looks pretty good in a nice area of the city close to a park, the water, and the embassy itself. The apartment doesn't look too small to us considering it's an apartment. Our house here was built in 1959 so we're used to smaller rooms.

The Stockholm apartment will be a short walk to work for me so that's definitely a huge bonus! We're going to go ahead with our plan to sell the cars here and rely on bikes and public transportation there. We need to buy new bikes so that's yet another thing for the to-do list. We're just a little over 3 months away from the big move!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Flag Day

Getting My Flag

Above is a blurry cell phone photo from way in the back but you can see the flag on the screen. We're moving to Stockholm Sweden at the end of June! Some classmates leave at the same time and others leave a month or so later. We were all presented little flags for the countries and my daughter promptly took possession of our flag when the ceremony was over.

Yes, this ended up being our first choice and surprisingly many in our class received their first choice or somewhere in their top 5 out of 22. I think there were a few that weren't so lucky and got something towards the bottom of their list but I'm sure it was impossible to give everyone their top choices.

We did get a lot of feedback during orientation from the people that have worked at various posts that those "third world" countries many of us put at the bottom ended up being the best and most rewarding places to serve. I'll get one of those "third world" opportunities next time since I have a "first world" post this time. The higher equity posts based on differential and hardship pay get higher priority for their second assignments.