Saturday, July 28, 2012

A-100 Journal 2- Language Fraud!

So, me and my classmates more or less spend every break and most of our off-time doing one thing: discussing the bid list. Do they want to go where you do? Even better, do they want to go where you do not? That might, emphasize might, mean that you won't have to go there. Does you dream post have room for your dog? Will you end up some place that has a hard language that is only spoken in that country? There are many of us and many posts all across the world, and so there are enough variables that every time you want to talk about the bid list, there is a new topic to discuss.

We also learned about culture shock, and to our surprise discovered that we are suffering from a minor case of re-integration culture shock. After nine years in Laredo, we are in a place where:

1. Personal space is respected;
2. Traffic laws are strictly obeyed AND enforced;
3. On time now means 5 minutes before the stated time, not 20-30 minutes after!

The only downer for the week was language testing. I came to Laredo with no Spanish and took private lessons for about a month. That plus Rosetta Stone plus a need for insurance sales had me up to the point where I could transact business in Spanish and hold understandable conversations with my friends. I didn't know where that would put me on the State Department scale, and this week I had a little informal assessment. I understood everything the examiner said to me and thought I was speaking pretty well. Late this week I got the results:

My vocabulary and pronunciation are quite credible. However, my grammar is truly hideous. It was obvious to him that I learned my Spanish on the border, because the sentence structure was, let us say, a mix of Spanish and English. The verdict? 6 months of training if I am going to a Spanish-speaking post. I was stunned. Apparently all my friends and clients who complemented me on my pronunciation were doing so because my grammar was just deadly.

What this means for us is that we are NOT obligated to go to a Spanish-speaking post. We still could be, but if they want to send me to Indonesian, Tagalog, French or Portuguese training instead they can. Bid lists are about to be turned in. The stress factors are rising. And I am still eating this job with a spoon and can't believe I am getting to do it. It's even worth wearing a tie every day!



  1. Sounds like you are having fun. I have a question for you-did your someone in your family get a Class 2 med clearance and if so how does that affect your bidding?

    1. I have more than one class 2. The effect is that while everyone else is trying to take places off the chart, you are working with med trying to put places on. A very different dynamic.

  2. I think your spouse commented on my blog awhile back. (We used to be posted in Nuevo Laredo.) Welcome aboard!

  3. That's hilarious :) I've spent 3 years in my RLP country and still was told that my grammar is full of atrocious mistakes.