After swearing-in day was over, my role as an EFM was basically on hold for a while. I still work full-time, so attending language classes at FSI isn’t possible. I did request access to Mandarin study materials, and FSI set me up with an account to log into Mango Languages and study in my free time. It’s a great system, I can study at my own pace, using their website, or their phone/tablet app. But, I had to ask my diplomat wife to help set this all up, along with many other State Department-related tasks.
Speaking of that: I’m new at this EFM job, and I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, but a lot of information I need is on a website that non-employees can’t access. So I’ll need to ask Diplowife for help, like she isn’t busy enough already. On the other hand, there’s no rush for anything I need, we’ve got over eight months before we move. But I’m glad there are people at State like the Family Liaison Office (FLO) and at the Shenyang Consulate like the Community Liaison Office (CLO) who are great at helping EFM’s with our issues. They are helping me find and apply for work at post, which deserves its own blog entry.
As for Diplowife, she has started Consular training, which lasts another six weeks. Then she begins several months of language training. Meanwhile, we’re trying to stay in contact with her classmates and socialize when we can. An obstacle for us is that people like Diplowife, who was already living in DC when she was hired, are considered “local hires”. Local hires are not moved to the free housing down near FSI, so there’s little financial incentive to move before we’re shipped off to China. So most of her classmates live near each other, and we tend to miss out on most social events, living up here in Maryland.
However, Diplowife’s classmates that are also heading to China have formed their own sub-group and we got together for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant a few weeks ago. As always, it was nice to meet them and make new friends. I gotta keep developing my EFM corridor reputation, you know. Hopefully we’ll get together every month or so until everybody is transferred. Once we’re all in China, we can all travel around the country and crash in each others’ guest rooms. I hope to order my food in Mandarin next time we meet. Or at least greet a few people and thank the waiter.
So that’s how things are going these days. Diplowife is continuing her training at FSI, but the stressful undercurrent has faded now that Flag Day is over and the pressures of the A-100 class are behind her. My meager obligations as an EFM are in the background now, and I’m focusing on learning Mandarin, and learning about Shenyang and China. I’m looking for work in Shenyang, and considering my role as an EFM. Much more to come…