When we told friends and family about our upcoming move to Kosovo we were often met with confused looks and/or blank expressions. What usually happened next was a short geography lesson (understandable, considering I had to check the map myself after our assignment). And a lot of people asked us “why?” Why are you moving overseas, and why Kosovo. Totally logical questions. For us, it was the start of an adventure we’d wanted for a long time.
JR and I met during orientation our first year of law school. We were randomly assigned to the same 4 person group for a project in our Legal Writing class. As we became more than friends, it was clear that he had dreams and goals that would take him outside of Ohio, and if it worked out the way he hoped, outside the country. I was thinking if we stayed together his plans would somehow transform into my plans for us – to never leave Columbus. It’s rare, but sometimes I’m wrong. 🙂
During our third year of law school, JR spent a semester working overseas with the Department of State, and he started focusing on a future in the Foreign Service (FS) as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) (it’s the government – they LOVE acronyms). Getting a job as an FSO is no easy task, but JR kept trying. Meanwhile, we graduated law school and both found work as attorneys in Columbus. Life was pretty good, but he was still hoping for something more.
In August of 2011, he received an e-mail notice for an interview in DC. It turned out the job he would interview for was one he had applied for in August 2010 – an entire year earlier! We didn’t know what to think or expect.
The next several months were part excitement, part torture. There were still many hoops to jump through after he had passed the interview portion, and no guarantee of a job at the end of it all. There were reference checks, security clearances, medical clearances, and a lot of waiting – it was big year for us. It’s hard to plan for your future when so much is up in the air, but we figured, why not really challenge ourselves? So we added an engagement and wedding into the mix. Go big or go home.
Finally (I’m crying as I write this, because I just remember it so clearly and I’m a person who cries a lot), one morning in March JR walked into my office and handed me a letter. It was his official employment offer and start date. Holy cow, this was happening. We celebrated that night, and it was exciting and emotional. I was, and still am, so incredibly proud of him for his perseverance and commitment to his dreams.
Since we had less than two months to make plans until he had to move in May (also not to mention, we were still right in the middle of wedding planning), we drove from Ohio to D.C. for a short weekend to go apartment hunting. After getting over the initial shock of how much we’d be paying to live in D.C. (it’s ridiculous!), we chose a small 1 bedroom apartment that could barely fit 2 people and one portly cat. Our plan was for JR to move first in May, and I would join him after our wedding that August or September. (As I’m writing this, I’m realizing August has always been a big month for us. It was the month we first met too!)
It was a strange summer apart, filled with the anticipation of getting married and moving to DC, and knowing our time in DC would be short. JR was in training for his job which included language training and once that was complete, we’d be moving overseas for our first tour. We were very fortunate that for JR’s job, his supervisors gave everyone a list of the available assignments and countries, and asked that we rank our top 5. We were told they would try to take our preferences into consideration, but there were no guarantees. We ranked Kosovo #1 for many reasons – we’d heard great things about the work the US is doing here, the Kosovars are friendly and welcoming to Americans, and the location in Eastern Europe.
And here we are! After one year in DC (well only 9 months for me), we find ourselves in Pristina, Kosovo, starting our great adventure.