Can you believe it? I've already been at post for a month. My tour here is 1/24 (4%) over and I feel like I just got here. I've only recently started to feel like I really knew what I was doing with certain aspects of my job and I haven't settled into many routines yet because hey - I'm new. But I guess I can't keep acting like a newbie forever. I'm now only the third-newest person in the consular section (well fourth-newest counting the TDYer) and a month from now I'll be one of the more experienced people on the NIV line. That's a scary thought!
So what have I been doing so far, one might ask? Well - I've been working on the NIV line. I've hit a max of about 75-80 visa interviews a day. My goal is 100, but we'll see how long that one takes me. I heard there's a member of my A-100 already doing 120 a day and I'm both jealous and intimidated by that. It's important to be quick so that you handle your share of the days interviews - otherwise your fellow officers have to pick up the slack - but it's even more important to make quality decisions. And good decisions just take a bit more time when you're still unfamiliar with the culture, the accent*, and the patterns at post.
As promised, I've already got a thousand stories under my belt - it's too bad I can't share them with you. But the applicants are definitely the most interesting part of the job and it's this opportunity - to speak with a hundred regular Nigerians every day - that drew me to consular work in the first place. I've met kings and comedians, models and used-car salesmen, oil worker and homemakers, babies and 'mamas'. I may not be able to visit all of Nigeria during my two years here, but I don't have to - Nigeria's coming to me!
*Oh the stories I could tell about misunderstanding the Nigerian accent! It works both ways too. A typical interview includes at least one moment where I ask the applicant where they are going and they reply 'in May'. Luckily they're patient with me and we usually have a laugh about the mix-up once we manage to get on the same page. I cannot even imagine how tough this would all be in a foriegn language...