Thursday, November 04, 2010

Change of Plans

Things have been happening so fast around here -- I've just realized I forgot to update you on my State Dept. internship...

By the end of my phone interview, back in August, it was clear that I was being recommended to the St. Petersburg Consulate, to work at the Political-Economic and Public Diplomacy desks. My education, skills, and interests lined up perfectly with the internship job description in the small St. Pete Consulate. I started researching like crazy and was really excited about spending time in the beautiful, historical city known as the cultural centre of Russia and dubbed by Russians and foreigners alike as Russia's "Window on the West." 


I felt especially honored to be recommended to this post because apparently only about 10% of interns are sent to overseas posts -- most are assigned to offices in D.C.

My pre-employment security package finally arrived in late September, and I eagerly opened the manila envelope, fully expecting to learn the details of my new position in St. Petersburg.
Much to my surprise, the cover letter read,

"Dear Shirah E. Foy,
Congratulations! You have been chosen as a PRIMARY and have been assigned to the U.S. EMBASSY IN MOSCOW."

St. Basil's Cathedral - Moscow
I didn't really know how to react. My heart had been set on St. Pete, but I knew that I would be studying there for six weeks following my internship, so how could I be disappointed by this new opportunity to explore Russia's capital city, working just blocks from the Kremlin, the heart of Russian politics?  And how could I not be excited about the opportunity for daily visits to one of the most captivating works of architecture ever created, St. Basil's Cathedral?

So that's that. I'm headed to Moscow for my internship.  After it sank it, I realized how providential this change of plans really is. The fact that I'll be living in Moscow for 10 weeks will make it considerably easier to administer surveys and collect data for my thesis among students at universities in Moscow. I have already a few contacts with researchers there, so being in close proximity will allow me to take full advantage of those resources. Seeing as Moscow is consistently rated as the most expensive city in the world, it was quite a relief to be told that the State Dept. would provide my housing -- a big perk, especially since State Dept. interns in DC must find and fund their own housing. 

Through the Department's intern intranet I've been able to get in touch with three young men that will also be interning in the Embassy in Moscow this spring.  It's a neat site -- I'm able to browse profiles and résumés of current/upcoming interns as well as alumni. It was while doing just that the other evening that it really hit me how big of a deal this is. Many of the other interns appeared to be in their late 20s, early 30s, currently working on their second and third degrees. And I don't even have my first bachelor's under my belt. How did I make the cut? 



U.S. Embassy in Moscow
This has been such a long process, and I'm still waiting for my security clearance (it probably won't be issued til January) and now working through some complications with my visas....I'll need a business visa during my internship, and then a separate student visa during my enrollment in intensive language courses in St. Pete. And since I can't have two open visas in the same passport, it looks like I'll be getting a second passport in which I can be issued my student visa.  Otherwise I'd have to return to the U.S. between the internship and the language courses, and that would undermine my reasoning that "since I'll already be in Russia for the internship, I might as well make the most of it and take some courses."

So hopefully I'll be approved for this 2nd passport :)


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