Category Archives: Foreign Service

Experience

Experience.

It’s necessary for so many aspects of life, work, school, social life, physical activities, love life, video games, coffee brewing, you name it experience makes a difference. I’ve got this odd complex where I know I need experience but get in my own way when acquiring it. The root of this is that I’m usually supremely confident in my own ability and judgement, and I’m nearly always right in this. Its my own personal twist on hubris. Case and point is any form of standardised testing. Strolling into the ACT 15 minutes late eating McDs breakfast is not supposed to be a recipe for a good score. But my scores were just fine, pretty damn good by most standards.

I fancy myself an excellent judge of character, and despite knowing that this is absolutely arrogant, I go on picking up on who people are in a relatively quick fashion. Pin it to my tendency to be observant and analytical. I know that doing this can be judgmental and generally not a good approach, but rarely am I wrong. Hell, I’d love to be proved wrong more often as I tend to be pessimistic in these judgments. Granted, experiences in recent years have tempered this, but it still remains.

Because of these sorts of things I’ve developed my personal hubris and often find myself disregarding a need for experience in many pursuits. It’s caused plenty of problems in my young life and may well be my greatest flaw. The experience gained in pursuit of one thing can yield many positive externalities that I sometimes miss out on.

Though this is still one of my flaws, living abroad and travelling have done much to rectify this. Especially my time in Melbourne. The people who I met there were of wildly different types, but all shared a common trait. Each person was comfortable and assured of themselves and open to just about anything and everything. New foods, ridiculous adventures, introspective talks, odd cultural events, walking along roads to wherever. Always seeking some new knowledge or experience, it didn’t matter what, they were up for it. Even in their flaws they were comfortable and open. Many of my own flaws were rectified during my time spent down under, and a large part of this was due to them. Though my hubris remains, it has been reduced to what I would call a much more manageable level. I find myself always open to experiences of most any kind. I’m damn grateful of what these travels have brought, they’ve tempered me.

 

On a somewhat tangential note, I’ve always thought the Myers Briggs tests to be a bit of crap. Every time I took a test for it, it spat back some 4 letter type that really didn’t fit for me. But then I ran across a blog analyser for it that takes in your blog and determines the authors type. Seeing as how I express myself better in writing than on multiple choice test, I gave it a shot and found the results actually accurate this time around. I’ve been tagged as an INTJ by the handy Typealyzer tool. See here for a detailed description, which sounds an awful lot like me. Of particular note is the famous people section.

Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Dwight Eisenhower, Alan Greenspan, Ulysses S. Grant, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Ayn Rand, Isaac Asimov, Lewis Carroll, Cormac McCarthy, and Sir Isaac Newton.

Asmiov and Rand are two authors who I’ve quite enjoyed reading, Keynes is an economic mastermind who I’ve studied frequently, Ulysses S. Grant is an unequivocal badass and American icon, Newton and Hawking are more or less self explanatory, Eisenhower falls into a similar category as Grant. In short, most of these are people I take inspiration on one form or another from.

Popular hobbies for the INTJ include reading, cultural events, taking classes, appreciating art, computers and video games, and independent sports such as swimming, backpacking, or running marathons.

Well, I do like all of those things. And the other good news is that INTJs are

  • One of two types with highest college GPA
  • Among types with highest income

Can’t complain about either of those.

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ’s Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

Well, that fits the bill as well for better or worse.

 

There’s rumors that us Fulbright applicants will hear back tomorrow as to if we made it through the first round of screening. But these are rumours only as of yet, the official date still says the 30th. I want so badly for this to pan out, but whether or not it does, it has been a growing experience and has in helped me define my next steps.

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Pursuit of Purpose

The last three years were a direct result of a sudden shock and subsequent change to initial plans for college. Once it became clear that what I had envisioned my college years as was not to be and I pulled myself back to my feet after taking some shots, I began to plan what the years to follow would entail.

Having such a focus and a plan to move forward was immensely gratifying and really helped me stand back up and re define myself.

Early spring semester of freshman year I for some reason took notice of the words inscribed on the statue of Charles C. Chapman for the first time: “For no ship ever sailed the seas but had to face the storm…If you are strong in faith, clear headed, honest, trusting for divine guidance and with a character built on the solid rock, you will meet all troubles in your life victoriously.” As I turned away, my eyes alit on a sign for a study abroad information session. There seemed no better way to build my ship than this.

What followed has led me here. The course I began plotting then I have since navigated with only a few minor route adjustments. It has truly defined my college experience, my personal development, and as I am coming to realize, the path forward.

Coming home this summer and returning to Chapman this fall, it seemed quite likely that my walkabout was ending and that the definition of my life was to become school, work, and social as is the standard. This past semester was great, it was ‘college’ as I envisioned it before. For once, I could allow myself to be a normal college kid, go to class, hang out, have a good social life, and work a solid internship. I’m glad to have had it, and it has taught me about myself in a different light.

But alas, it seems what makes me tick is something slightly different. Before long I found myself restless, fighting inner turmoil, and losing some motivation and drive despite most things going well in my life. Much of my time over the summer was spent working on my Fulbright application to work as an ETA in Taiwan. I was encouraged to apply for it by a family friend who also happens to coordinate Chapman’s Fulbright applications. I undertook it because I thought why not, nothing better to do over the summer. I did not expect it to really align with future goals at the time. Fall semester began and I enjoyed it, but I found myself signed up for a travel course to Vietnam over spring break by November. It seemed that I could not help but pursue any opportunity to go abroad.

I have always known that any career path or life choice I make has to fit certain criteria. I struggle with work that has little meaning or significance. I want to always be learning, to be gaining knowledge that lights my brain up. I need that. I live for that. It must be more than a four letter word or a means to an end. If I am going going to devote most of my time to something I must be invested in it. And I have come to realize that it must have an international aspect to it.

With these in mind, I set out to determine what ticked all these boxes as I looked over the horizon to graduation and life post college. Software development? Logistics? Writing? Coaching? None seemed to engage me. So I began to look at what might.

And I stumbled upon the Foreign Service, gave it a look, got excited. Slept on it. Did more research over the next few weeks, thought about it, read a book on it, read blogs, slept some more, read some more, and found that my excitement waxed rather than waned. Mayhaps this is exactly what I am seeking.

With this in mind, I begun plotting the course to it in the same way I plotted a course for my college experience early on. I will likely need a master’s in International Relations, internships in the field, learn a language, pass the FSOT and then the rest of the process. The Fulbright is actually run by the State Department, being awarded that is a huge honor, give opportunities for living abroad, and language immersion in a Super Critical Needs Language (Mandarin). If I happen to be awarded the Fulbright, it will be a huge boost and will fall perfectly in line with my rough plan. I’ll know if I was recommended by the end of this month and then know if I receive the grant sometime between March and May. If it comes off, the plan would be to undertake that and then pursue a masters in IR the following year, I like the look of Johns Hopkins SAIS program, internships while in grad school, and then hopefully entry into the FS. It looks a long, potentially frustrating road that will almost certainly takes at least a half decade. But it sure seems that it will be worth it.

I’ve begun to put this plan into motion and damn it feels good to have this purpose again.

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