Hello FS blog readers! Welcome to summer.
Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve last had a chat. I have quite a bit to catch you up on, plus the rest of the Orals study information I promised in the last post. BUT FIRST! The information that I completely left you hanging on was whether or not I passed the QEP stage and was invited to the Oral Assessment (OA). Well…..
Yahoo! I passed the QEP stage and was invited to schedule my Oral Assessment. Unfortunately, that’s where it got a bit more complicated than necessary. Those who have read past posts will know that I live in Korea at the moment and was traveling back to visit family in the USA. I got the email about passing just hours before I left my home to travel (cross country) to the Airport in Seoul. FYI it seems like as soon as you find out you have been invited to Orals that you will be able to schedule said Oral Assessment. This is not the case. You will be sent an email listing the appropriate dates within which you may log onto the PearsonVUE website to pick a date and location for your OA.
In the case of the Feb FSOT cohort, there were two date ranges listed. Whoops. A quick call to PearsonVUE sorted that mess out. I was invited to log in to schedule my OA starting on May 8 for any of the dates falling from June to October. I emailed PearsonVUE, my Diplomat In Residence, and the FSOA Scheduling team; all I was told was that IF there was an option to schedule for the San Francisco dates that May, they would be available on the Pearson site when scheduling opened.
Frustratingly, there was no specified time for when exactly the site would open. Just that it would open on May 8. (Even the support person I spoke with from Pearson said they didn’t know. Maybe it was automatic at midnight, maybe it was when they opened at 9am CST, maybe it was a random time during the day). I stayed up all night refreshing the PearsonVUE page trying to schedule my OA and by morning, had had no luck. The PearsonVUE page was glitching and showed no dates available at all, for anyone.
To complicate things, that morning, I was getting on yet another series of airplanes to accompany my family on their vacation down to Mazatlan, Mexico. I had been calling the Pearson support hotline as soon as they opened, but still no luck and no answer. I had to get on that airplane, but I had back-ups for my back-ups. On the 45 minute flight from Eugene to Portland, my husband (who was stuck back in Korea for work) would refresh the page for me. Once the wheels touched down I was back on the phone, trying to get through to support while juggling carry on baggage and my brother’s phone, on which I was frantically refreshing the scheduling site and any foreign service related blogs/sites/pages that might have updated information.
I had been on hold all day and all night. Just as I was boarding the flight from Portland to Los Angeles (plane 2/3 for the day) I got through to the Pearson support team. I was literally walking down the corridor after they scanned my ticket when the support rep informed me that they were aware of the technical glitch and the dates would be available in a few hours. Probably sometime that afternoon she said. Probably.
Here we go again. This time, it was my Dad who was in Miami refreshing the page for me (my sweet husband had gone to bed). The flight I was on had in-flight WiFi which allowed me to message back and forth with my Dad for any updates (although I couldn’t access the internet internet, so I couldn’t do it on my own).
About twenty minutes after we landed the dates finally appeared – right while I was in the middle of meeting my mother-in-law in person for the second time in my life (Context: met my husband overseas; met his family on Skype and then in person at the wedding. Thankfully my new family is simply fabulous and it all worked out great). So while juggling two phones, an ecstatic mother in law, exhausted family members, a crowded LAX airport terminal, and some pizza, I surveyed the available OA dates:
Absolutely none in May OR in San Francisco. The next date that would work for me and my Korean holiday schedule was October 6, 2017 at 7:00am in Washington D.C.
Soooooooooooo. Today is July 10 and I have been taking a bit of a break from studying. I studied very hard back in April/May and felt ready to take on the Orals then and there. Now, I’ll need to refresh my skills throughout the summer and into the fall before I take the exam in October. It’s not ideal – I would have liked to use my skills when they were fresh. But now I have no excuse, I’ll leave no room for error and complete all the studying I can possibly do. This July I have re-started my regular Skype meetings with other OA hopefuls to practice the GE and the SI. I have written and re-written all of the CM memos and intend to do them yet again. My husband and I will be visiting D.C. together this fall, and as an added bonus, our family will be meeting us there to visit and cheer me on (No pressure).
So stay tuned for more study tips, more FS stories, and more of this crazy ride. Thanks for reading! Bonus Mazatlan pics:
‘Til next time.