Since I was assigned to Ottawa for my next assignment, I’ve been getting pretty excited about it. The city seems very livable, with a lot of cultural events, museums, parks, and so on. I am still a bit worried about the cold, since I’ve never lived anywhere that’s nearly as cold or that gets nearly as much snow, but I’ve reached out to friends and family members who’ve lived in cold places, am coming up with a list of things that I may need to get, and starting to do a little research on costs and options for some of the cold weather gear. Since I’ll get there in August, hopefully before winter sets in, I also plan to consult the professionals after I get there, since who would know Ottawa winters better than Ottawans! If any of you lovely readers have suggestions for winter weather gear, please share!
I was a little concerned about housing, since Ottawa is a Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) post, where the Department gives you an allowance and you go find and lease your own housing. However, after looking up the allowance and doing some research on rental costs in Ottawa, it sounds like I can find a nice place and stay within the allowance. In LQA posts, the Department doesn’t provide furniture, so I was also a little concerned about having to buy a lot of furniture since I don’t have much furniture and I don’t really want to buy a lot of furniture since I’m likely to end up in a smaller place in DC and wouldn’t have space for it all. However, after doing a bit more research, I found out that you can use part of the housing allowance to rent furniture. So, I’m a lot less worried about the expense and hassle of buying furniture that I might not use past Ottawa.
One of the best things about the assignment, however, is no more visa work! While consular work is very important to our mission overseas, it’s just not what I want to do long-term, so I’m really looking forward to getting to do something else and to get a chance to work in my career track.
So, while the initial assignment came as a surprise based on how low it was on my list and how others who had bid in previous cycles had gotten one of their top 3 choices, I’m starting to get really excited and I think it’s all going to work out well.