My plans

So, I mentioned my plans for the future a couple of months ago, but they were buried in a post about Chinese (see the post titled "Chinese is hard"),  and I guess it was hard to spot, since I keep getting questions about it.

Basically, right now my general plan is to stay in Taiwan for about 18 more months, and then move to Beijing for a year.  I figure that 18 more months should be enough to pay off my credit card debt and finish learning all the commonly-used traditional Chinese characters, not to mention to be very fluent.  If it's not, then I may stay in Taiwan a little longer before moving to Beijing.  Once in Beijing, I'm sure a year will be plenty to master the differences between Mandarin as it is spoken in Taiwan and Beijing, as well as the simplified Chinese character set.

This plan could change, however.  In April I took the U.S. Foreign Service Written Exam, which is the first step towards becoming a U.S. State Department diplomat.  If I do get into the Foreign Service, which is not an easy (or quick) process, then I could be back in the States as early as next spring (this is the EARLIEST this could possibly happen, which means it 99% probably won't; don't hold your breath.)  Then I would have a year of training in Washington, DC before I headed off to my first assignment overseas.

My next visit back home also depends on the Foreign Service.  The Foreign Service Examiners will tell me whether or not I passed the written exam in late July.   If I passed, then I will be asked to come back to the US for the Oral Assessment.  (Which has nothing to do with dentists, and definitely not with sex.  Get your mind out of the gutter, you!)  The Oral Assessments for this round are given from August '06 through summer '07.  I believe that the earlier dates are given to those who scored higher on the written exam.  If I am given a date this year, then I will come back for the month before the Oral Assessment.  If they give me a date next year, then I will come back as soon as I can arrange it, and then come back again next year for the Oral Assessment.

If I pass the Oral Assessment, it could take anywhere up to 2 years before I actually enter the Foreign Service, if that happens at all, which means I will go right along living in Asia until a) I become a Foreign Service Officer or b) I've mastered Chinese to my satisfaction.

If I don't become a diplomat, though, I'm not quite sure what I'll do once I've finished learning Chinese.  I have sort of a tentative plan to get a job as some sort of junior executive with an American company doing business with China or Taiwan, but that is extremly tentative, nebulous, very vague and totally open to change.  The future is still open.

So, to sum up:

1) the earliest I will be home for a visit is August

2) I won't know for sure when I will visit until July, but it'll definitely be sometime this year

3) I may leave Taiwan for good as early as next spring (but probably not)

4) If I don't get into the Foreign Service, or it takes a long time to get into the Foreign Service, then I will be in Taiwan for about 18 more months, and then move to Beijing for one year.

5) If I don't get into the Foreign Service, maybe I'll do business of some sort, but I'm not sure.

Any questions?


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