Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three Weeks of Orientation, Day 1

File:United States Department of State headquarters.jpg
Harry S Truman Building or 'Main State'
It had finally arrived. The day I (and hopefully 72 of my peers) had been waiting for - day one of orientation! If I were most people, I'd probably go into boring detail about how much my hand cramped during the paperwork frenzy... However, I got a unique 'first day' experience.

Sunday evening the 131st FSS class hosted happy hour for our class (the 132nd). I attended that before heading to the hotel I'd picked up for the night (not wanting to be late for the first day... or to drive an hour home just to sleep for 9 hours and drive back). I hadn't eaten at happy hour, so I picked up some antipasto from the olive bar at the supermarket across the street. Hindsight being what it is, this was a TERRIBLE idea.

I woke up around 2 am and spent the rest of the night being sick. I'm not generally one to get sick (and I kind of half believed food poisoning was a myth before this morning), but I was sicker than I've ever been in my life. Despite this, I managed to get up, get dressed, and power my way to the first day of orientation. However... it quickly became apparent to me that there was no way I'd be able to function, or even stay seated, at orientation in the state I was in. The coordinators were incredibly understanding and tried very hard to work with me to get in what I needed. After a fruitless attempt to lie down in the nurses office (apparently they don't have beds since it's just a vaccination clinic), I ended up getting my badge picture taken and heading back to my car for a (cold) three hour nap. That ended up recharging me to feeling 'merely bad,' which is a giant improvement from the previous 'walking corpse.' However, I must have still looked fairly ill. After meeting with HR to get my paperwork in order and sitting through a couple sessions (one of which was vital to receiving my badge), they pulled me out of the cohort again to swear in to my position and pick up my newly minted badge. After that, they sent me home to recover.

Honestly, it was about the best experience I could have hoped for... given the circumstances. Everyone was incredibly friendly and understanding, both my cohort members and the people running things. That being said, it was horrible. Pretty much the worst first day I could have imagined, but on the plus side, now that that's out of the way, I'm free and clear for a wonderful career, right?

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