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May 13th, 2013:

Holy cow that language test was!

I just took the telephone Chinese test. I can’t give too many details about the test, because I am under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The test was all speaking and listening, which is not surprising, since it was a telephone test. The interviewer was a Mainlander, so it’s a good thing that I’ve been listening to CCTV news from China. The interviewer’s accent didn’t confuse me.

The topic of conversation was at a high level, focusing on current events in the US and China. I think that I held my own in the conversation, asking questions and giving my opinions.

There was also an interview portion, where I had to ask questions in Chinese, then report back the contents of the interview in English. That part was a little easier for me. My court interpreting experience was very valuable in that task.

I think that I did well on the test. I could have done better, but I was a little nervous at first.

The whole thing took less than 20 minutes. The next step is to grade the test. Another rater will listen to the recording of the test. They will then send my score to the Board of Examiners, who will give me the results. How long will that take? If you have to ask, you haven’t learned anything from my experience in applying to the Foreign Service…

P.S. The title of this blog post isn’t a typo, it’s a family joke.

Medical Clearances Completed

Stacy’s medical clearance came through. The boys and I were cleared weeks ago, but Stacy has a more interesting medical history, so she needed some additional tests. We thought that the red flag would be Tuberculosis, but it was Hepatitis that the State Department’s medical clearance office was concerned about.

Stacy reported that she was a carrier of Hepatitis B, based on what someone told her when she tried to donate blood back in college. State wanted her to get a blood test, and asked our doctor to give a report of the “viral load and treatment recommendations” for her hepatitis.

Surprisingly, the test came back negative. She isn’t a Hep B carrier after all.

Within a week of sending that report in, she was granted a world-side clearance. She can accompany my to any post anywhere in the world. Hooray!

All of this testing was not done for free. State’s policy is to have candidates bill their insurance company, and submit bills for anything that isn’t covered by insurance. Not surprisingly, quite a bit of the blood tests were not covered by our regular health insurance. I wanted to wait until all the clearances were granted, and all the charges made, before I submitted the bills to the government. Now that we have all our clearances, I can do that.

My next step is to figure out how to submit the bills. Stacy has done her usual amazing job of keeping track of all the bills and statements from the doctor’s office and insurance company. The State Department seems to be very competent and experienced in handling these medical bills, so I’m confident that they will be able to sort everything out correctly, but dealing with paperwork is always time-consuming.