I’ve been in Ethiopia for almost twenty-one months now, meaning there are approximately SIX remaining until my projected Close of Service date!

Life in Bahir Dar

Although I moved in to my new house here in Bahir Dar about two months ago, it’s taken that long to have enough money to purchase furniture (I left everything except my bed in Bure) and really get all my crap organized. Ethiopians think Americans have too much stuff and I am inclined to agree! However, all the stuff helps me feel a little more settled and “home.” Things like muffin pans are completely unnecessary, but really helpful when baking muffins to keep me sane. Just saying…


Last month I started working with an NGO that works across East Africa to improve farmers’ lives. It’s been a nice change of pace after the limited work I’ve had in Bure and my coworkers are amazing. Working with an NGO is certainly a different experience than attempting to work with a local government-run office, but it’s been a blessing. I’ve loved having the structure and the expectations of an international organization, as well as learning what international development work is really like.

Upcoming travels!

There were times it seemed like vacation would never come, but now it is SO CLOSE! This weekend Ryan and I are off to the UK to meet his family for a week of a much needed vacation! I’ve never been to the UK before and am excited to finally see London. For further excitement, in about two months Ryan and I are meeting my parents in Morocco!

Foreign Service QEP Results

Unfortunately, I did not pass the QEP portion for my Foreign Service candidacy, so I am back to square one and will retake the FSOT next year… right now its looking like I won’t get to retake until October 2015.

February 2014 FSOT: Results are in!

The February 2014 FSOT results letters came out this past Thursday… as I’m in Ethiopia, I didn’t remember they would be out until during our nightly call, my fiance said, “Hey, there are Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs) on my ACT account.” What?? I quickly tried to log on (my CDMA device has never seemed so slow) and found my own PNQ questions waiting for me.

So it’s official… I passed!! I’m really not quite sure how it happened as I barely squeaked by with a passing score (I needed a 154/6 and I got a 156/8), but I’m moving on to the next round of the Foreign Service Officer application process!

Here’s a breakdown of my results:

Job Knowledge:  60.11
Biographic Information:  44.08
English Expression:  52.20
Multiple-Choice Total:  156.39

Essay score: 8

As I mentioned in my last post, I really didn’t think I passed the essay, but somehow I did! And with a better essay score than my fiance (who thought he wrote a bangin’ essay… however 17 pts lower on the MC). I guess all those AP English classes and university writing courses really paid off in a big way here.

I’m really excited to dive into the PNQs–as a first time test taker I really don’t know what to expect out of it, but all the same I’m going to give it my best shot and get on to the Oral Assessments!

Taking the FSOT

As I mentioned (very briefly) in a previous post, Ryan and I were in Addis a little over three weeks ago to take the Foreign Service Officer Test, hereafter referred to as the FSOT.

We decided to take the FSOT because we feel that not only does the Foreign Service offer a lifestyle we feel passionate about living, we also want to serve the country we love and do it in a meaningful way. Becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) has been a lifelong dream of Ryan’s and a more recent dream of mine, but all the same, we decided to go at it together.

The FSOT has a pretty serious Non-Disclosure Agreement that can expel you from the process of becoming an FSO, so I’m not going to go into any detail about the content of the questions, but I’ll talk about our experience.

For those who don’t know anything about the FSOT, there are 4 sections:

  1. Job Knowledge
    A variety of questions including topics on current events, pop culture, US history, US politics and government, communications and IT, economics and world geography and history.
  2. Biographical
    Asks questions about your personality, past jobs and how you interact with people (among others), sometimes asking for examples. This is probably the most vague section of the FSOT since no one really knows how it’s graded.
  3. English Expression
    You are given passages or scenarios and asked to select the correct or best replacement.
  4. Essay
    A 30-minute essay with one prompt, graded in the typical ACT writing fashion.

I thought I did really well on the English Expression, I finished in something like 20 minutes and only had a couple I wasn’t 100% sure on. I also feel as though I did fairly decent on job knowledge although I know I missed a few key ones I shouldn’t have. Who knows on the Bio section? I thought I repeated myself a LOT but I guess that’s normal. And the essay I am pretty sure I bombed, I didn’t practice it enough prior to the test. Oh well.

Results come out in 3-5 weeks after the test date so we’ll know in early March at the latest if either one of us made it on to the next round, the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs). I’ll try to keep you all updated as best I can on this journey!