This is us.  The one showing lots of shoulder (in her Chengdu, China Marine Ball ball gown!) is the EFM who writes this blog. The one wearing a tux (James) is the employee who moves her (and their two sons) around all over the world. The red link, below, is how you can get in touch with me...

The time in Chengdu, China

Chengdu: city of fabulous food and beautiful Buddhist monasteries!
Yes, Beijing's Forbidden City (pictured, above) is really pretty and all, but I like Chengdu much better than Beijing!

In Our Same Boat (with State)

  • Beyond the Cornfields
    Brand-new State Department family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Love their two little girls (she just recently had a baby while being posted in Dhaka), horticulture, traveling and adventure!
  • Email From The Embassy
    State Department family formerly in Beijing, China, and recently posted to Amman, Jordan. A trailing spouse, she's also a writer, and frequently publishes articles with major news sources. A very experienced State family, this new post is something like overseas post number six or seven for them.
  • Just US
    A beautiful family of seven - they have arrived at their new post: Jerusalem! They just finished off an unaccompanied tour to Iraq and are very much looking forward to sightseeing around the middle east.
  • Our Life
    State Department family on their second post...Tijuana, Mexico. It's their first overseas assignment and they have two little boys. They love Tijuana so far and post pictures frequently! They also get to enjoy the best of both worlds for they can sneak over the border into San Diego when they want to!
  • The Dinoia Family
    State Department family formerly in California, now in DC for a DC tour. Next, the husband will do a one year unaccompanied tour. A very experienced State family (formerly in Iceland and Caracas) with a blog that has been around quite a while and has great archives. Jen has a sweet heart and a lot to give!
  • The Perlman Update
    State Department family formerly in Chennai, India, who then did a year-long unaccompanied tour in Iraq. They are now on a DC tour and after that will do another unaccompanied tour (Afghanistan). She totally tells it like it is and doesn't sugar-coat what life is really like. Witty, snarky, funny and down-to-earth. Look elsewhere if you want fake. Read if you want REAL.
  • Where in the World Am I?
    State Department family formerly in Bujumbura, Burundi and now in Hyderabad, India. They just had their first baby this summer - a beautiful little girl- (there's a separate blog about this) and she also eats gluten-free (with a separate blog, also).
One of the most intriguing things about Chengdu is that it is a seamless blend of ancient and modern... all together, side by side.

Can't Live Without (non-State)

  • Crass-Pollination: An ER blog
    The best ER nurse blog EVER!
  • Doctor Grumpy in the House
    The best doctor blog EVER!
  • In Which...
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of seven. Her darling daughters are, goshdarnit, probably too young to be hoped for as my future daughters-in-law.
  • The Crib Chick
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of five. Hopefully two (Any two! I'm not picky!) of which are my future daughters-in-law.
  • the underwear drawer
    An anesthesiologist who is possibly the most talented & entertaining writer ever. I've read her blog ever since she started medical school. No, don't know her in real life. Wish I did.
  • The Bloggess
    This blog is both hysterically funny and hilariously irreverent. I actually let my 17 year old son read it (who loves it as much as I do!), but wouldn't even CONSIDER letting my 12 year old son read it. Which is about all the description it needs!
The grounds of Chengdu monasteries can be very, very peaceful...even though they are smack dab in the heart of a city of millions of people.
Yes, there are Starbucks in Chengdu! All over the place, in fact. So much so, Starbucks even crafted mugs for Chengdu stores!
Texan bluebonnets. Because I learned during our very first posting (Houston) that there's nothing prettier in the spring than the meadows of Texas.
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So, if Mo' Money = Mo' Problems then you don't have any problems, right? Just trying to look on the bright side here...

Also (don't kill me), Phil's CDO totally set me up with language training. I don't know if that's normal or not, but yeah. He did it all for me...


I really enjoy reading your blog, and I've always appreciated your points of view. However, do you really think you deserve to be paid for being in ConGen or language training? US taxpayers paid for you to learn a language for FREE. You were not entitled to this benefit, but you were fortunate enough to receive it. Not all spouses and partners are as lucky. You are also getting ConGen for free, in preparation for a job that you are not yet qualified to do and that you were not yet hired for, all to assist you in getting a job at post. The US gov is providing this training to you for free.

I do agree with you about the lack of equity in your family not receiving per diem.

While I appreciate yours and your family's sacrifices to join your husband on his tour, I think your complaint about not getting paid while you receive free training is a bit much.


As a fellow blogger and EFM (who is nowhere near as smart or dedicated as A Daring Adventure is to tackle a fast track HARD language course OR Con Gen), I am ABSOLUTELY appalled at ANYONE who leaves a comment here on her blog (or any other FS blogger) that is negative AND anonymous Get over yourselves people!

Kolbi is NOT complaining about not getting paid. Do you understand sarcasm people? Do you understand that blogging is often a way to light heartedly write about experiences and even frustrations?

Again and again and again I come here to see people writing hurtful comments or threatening words about/to her. That's not what this community is about. And frankly, I'm saddened.

Kolbi isn't looking for sunshine to be blown up her a** here. But as someone who appreciates her honesty about difficult classes or enjoys HER experiences at FSI and Con Gen, or who knows she's going to be met with obstacles when it comes time to pack out and move, I'm going to be upset when she starts sensoring her blogging because she's feeling attacked.

If you can't say something nice. Don't write it. This comment section is NOT meant to be a place to challenge her or her thoughts (sarcastic as many of them can be). If you have your own opinions - start your own blog.


I took ConGen, way back when (also unpaid, in the hope that I would eventually find gainful employment). I look back on those days of hot lunches and video games with such joy....

Don't worry about the tests.. They can't kick Daring Adventure out or the whole blogosphere will turn on them. (well, except for that one guy in Mexico City....).

A Daring Adventure

US taxpayers paid for me to go through the training I've gone through?!




I totally loved the graphic pertaining to Immigration, sure wish that had been around when I had some questions.. in fact I think most DS agents should go thru ConGen before they graduate BSAC, especially if they are headed to a very crim heavy oriented field office. I felt very unknowledgable about the whole immigration process and hello for what our investigations entail.. but then again that might make too much sense and we do work for the US Govt after all :)


great post. I have often wanted to blog about it, but just couldn't figure out how. You always sum up these complicated topics so well and in such an entertaining way! Please stop worrying, ok? You don't have to memorize the classifications of visas. Just know where to look. You will do great! And imo, it's only slightly more complicated than IV, but not really, bec it builds on IV, rather than starting anew.


OMG - I love that graphic too. I have to print that and hang it on my wall.

As far as that comment. I am also an EFM in ConGen, I try not to get upset but I will take this opportunity to remind that person that we, EFMS, have to take a test to qualify for ConGen and can get in the class if all the employees that need to take a class are already in one and there's space available. Otherwise, we are out of luck. Does the tax payer foot the bill for our employees spouses to be in class? Yes, because they do important work protecting US interests abroad. They are smart and they more than earn their keep. We, the EFMs, may or may not be quite as smart but we certainly make sacrifices to support them in what they do. And let's not forget that when we go out there in the world, we often have to kiss our careers good bye. For a variety of reasons, there just aren't very many jobs opportunities for us abroad. And when we do get a job at the embassy/consulate, we have to qualify for it just like everyone else and guess what? The tax payer gets a deal on us because we get paid less than an FSO, don't need additional housing, insurance, etc. So, yeah, if you think EFMs are a burden on the tax payer, think again.

A Daring Adventure

Thank you so much for the support, ladies!

And Daniela - I know you totally understand exactly where I'm coming from in terms of being an EFM and the difficulties EFMs face. First hand.

But on top of all of that... really, truly, US taxpayer money does NOT fund *ANY* of the training that I/we have been taking for this last (almost) year. None of it. Not language, and not CERTAINLY not ConGen. None of it is funded with US taxpayer money. That's just one of the many reasons (you explained some of the others) I went off on that guy.


@a daring adventure = where does the money for EFM training come from if not from taxpayer dollars? not saying taxpayers shouldn't pay for it but i don't see how you can argue that they don't.

A Daring Adventure

Hey, Tom,

Technical discussions of exact methods and ways that State funds this or that really are above my pay grade. (Which isn't hard, being as that I'm just an EFM right now and *have* no pay grade.)

In the end, if there are no other ways to verify what I'm saying is true (I haven't searched online so I don't know what's out there on this topic), then I guess all you can do is decide whether or not you find me to be credible.


Hubby is NIV chief right now. . . to be honest, from what I see, consular is on the front lines of US safety and defense -- right up there with the US military. I have a lot of respect for those working on the CON lines and discerning people's truth from BS.

The comments to this entry are closed.

James loves me. And our sons. And his job. But not having his picture taken. In 2011 he finished up over a year and half of training, and in the fall of 2011 we got to our first overseas post - Chengdu, China!
Mao says hi! Because Chengdu is one of the only cities in China with a Mao statue.
Flowers are like friends. Each one is unique. Each one is beautiful. They brighten up everything around them. And you can never have too many. 

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon, y'all! Talk about the ultimate in good luck! This kinda party only comes around once every twelve years!
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Colorful! (Inside a Chengdu ancient Buddhist monastery.)
Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore taking pictures? Here are some that I've taken recently:
A Daring Adventure's items Go to A Daring Adventure's photostream