Stick’s Test

Today Stick and I went down to the embassy so he could take the foreign service exam!

I’m really excited that Stick is doing this, I think he’ll be a great consular officer. Actually I think he would make a great rock star or nuclear physicist or deep-sea fishermen, but that’s because I’m his girlfriend. A bit more objectively, it’s a perfect situation for his personality, his skills and his goals, especially those two competing goals of continuing to travel and live abroad while maintaining a steady income.

It also means that if all goes according to plan, in a few years I’ll be an embassy wife. This is even funnier than that time when my dad decided to go to seminary, and I became a preacher’s daughter in my twenties.

While Stick was taking his test, I walked down to Guiyou silk market. I’ve been there before but hadn’t fully explored the endless stalls. I went downstairs to the shoes and bag universe, and had a good time shopping. I also discovered a new-to-me bargaining tactic. Basically, the vendor starts at, say, 600 for a pair of sneakers, and when we get down to a reasonable price, like 45, and are about to agree on it, she says “How about 2 pairs for 60?”

Now, I don’t need a second pair of Converse sneakers. (One might argue that with 4 other pairs of shoes, I don’t need the first pair, either.) But… it’s works. It’s enough of a bargain that I’m now the owner of my desired black hi-tops, and a pair of bright green ones. “How about two?” worked really well for quite a few vendors today, making two sales instead of one, but it also tipped me off that my bargaining is not going as low as it could be.

It turns out that Stick’s capacity for exam-taking exceeds my capacity for shopping, so I went to drink coffee and read my book until he finished.

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0 Responses to Stick’s Test

  1. Anonymous says:

    In some countries there is a requirement for their foreign service employees: they have to speak the language of the country they work in. And therefore the main thing they learn in their schools of diplomacy is a language of target country (plus English).

    Per my understanding Stick doesn’t know Chinese. Are American consuls supposed to work through interpreters? Very inefficient.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “And therefore the main thing they learn in their schools of diplomacy is a language of target country (plus English).”

    So since Stick speaks English, he’s done half of his training already!

    Steve in Hangzhou

  3. Anonymous says:

    America has quite a few embassies in a quite a few other countrys, and most of those other countrys don’t speak Chinese. Stick applied for a job in the foreign service, NOT a job at the American embassy in China. I don’t think the US gov’t hires people off the street (not even Stick, sorry Meg) I imagine they provide language training as well as job training. If you’ve read the blog, and not trolled in bash foreigners, you’ll know Stick has lived in Italy and Germany, so he might be assigned to a country where he is already fluent.

  4. Meg says:

    Anon #3 is right on both counts.

    1) Stick is applying for the foreign service, not for a job at the embassy in Beijing.

    2) There is indeed language training before you’re dropped in a foreign country.

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