Blog Stalking: Foreign Service Style

Evidently, bid lists are out. I'm not exactly sure what that means yet or if all bid lists are out or just some, but the blogosphere is a flutter with bloggers who have just learned that the bid list, the list that contains many locations throughout the world, one of which will be their home for 18 months to a 3 years, is out.

I have done a little bit of blog searching lately with the terms "Bid List" "Foreign Service Bid List" "State Department Bid List" and found some pretty great blogs of some pretty interesting people. Several times I have been able to catch the first post some years or months back about the list being out and then follow the people right up to when they disclose there new home. It's actually thrilling. And a little bit embarrassing too, but they are posting it for ALL to read so I shouldn't feel too snoopy.

It's a big deal, this bid list issue. There is a lot that goes into determining where you go on a given tour in the Foreign Service.  We will probably spend at least two of our tours, one of our first, in an Arabic speaking country. I actually feel fine about that. We have loved the Middle East so far and the idea of staying here seems familiar to both of us. We can't believe how foreign something like China sounds, but Bahrain? Bring it on. The possible Arabic speaking countries (where we have embassies) are as follows:

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
*There are African countries on this list too, so really I should say "Middle East/North Africa".

There is at least one unaccompanied tour on this list (Iraq) and probably several hardship posts, but that list fluctuates. Hardship posts are just that, hard. A location usually qualifies based on strenuous environmental, political/social, or geographical situations in the region and things like access to goods/services/healthcare. U.S. Business Week did a study recently on The Hardest Hardship Posts
that helped me get a better hold on things.

The bottom line is, we will probably go many places that are hard. Perhaps I'll have to be without Max for a time and perhaps I'll get malaria. Especially for the first little bit, we should just expect difficult places. But we feel really good about this decision. And I should say specifically
I feel good about this decision. Sometimes when we tell people what we are doing they get this idea that "Isn't that nice of Brooke to follow Max around even though she'd rather be doing something else?" And that couldn't be further from the truth. We may decide that foreign service isn't for us sometime in the future, but for right now I am very excited about the opportunities we'll have to learn about the world, to travel, to do good work for our church, and the opportunities our children will have. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be rewarding in ways I can't articulate? Yes. But the more people we meet who have done the foreign service for years, the more our choice is confirmed. The values that they hold and have instilled in their children are the same that we would like to focus our lives on.

So, I keep looking at the hardest hardship list and gearing myself up for that. It's a kind of pessimistic optimism. If I can conceive of the worst and plan for it to the extent that I am able, it will be manageable and everything else will seem wonderful.


  1. I think it's so exciting! And you guys are tough- I'm sure you'll be just fine in even the hardest of hardship posts. :)

  2. Egypt is a hardship post. :) According to my friends here that work for FS. And it's not all that bad.

    Exciting times ahead for you, though!

  3. We were in both Oman and in Tel Aviv... and I'd recommend both in a heartbeat!!

    Best of luck to you in your list making. I know how difficult it is to narrow down choices when you first start - then of course after 10 years on and with kids and schools to think about like us, the list is so small it narrows itself.

  4. You're a good woman Brooke! I completly agree with your answers as to why you guys want to travel and live all over the world with a family. Only my "all over the world" is mostly in Europe. If I get really brave I'd go to Turkey, the western part. But several middle eastern countries are on my list of places to visit, so maybe I'll see you there! Can't wait to hear how it all works out for you!