Realities of Foreign Service Life


Mention a diplomatic career and most people imagine high-level meetings, formal dress and cocktail parties. Few stop to think that behind the occasional glitter of official functions are thousands of families facing all the routines and crises of life, far from home, relatives, and friends, in unfamiliar and sometimes unfriendly countries. The Realities series (Volumes 1 and 2) provides reflections and perspectives on the realities of Foreign Service life as experienced by members of the Foreign Service community around the world. The writers share their unvarnished views on a wide variety of topics they care about:

  • Maintaining long-distance relationships
  • Raising teens abroad
  • Schooling and housing abroad
  • Dealing with depression
  • Employment for accompanying partners
  • Coping with medical and other types of evacuations
  •  Unaccompanied assignments
  • Readjusting to life in the United States

These are stories from the diplomatic trenches: experiences from those who have experienced the lifestyle and want to share their hard-learned lessons with others.

  • If you are new to the Foreign Service, this book will offer insights and practical information useful in your overseas tours and when you return home.
  • If you are a seasoned veteran of the Foreign Service, the reports and reflections of others may encourage you to compare and evaluate your own experiences.
  • If you (or your partner) are contemplating joining the Foreign Service, this book can serve as a reality check, giving you honest, personal perspectives on both the positive and negative aspects of Foreign Service life.
  • If you are a student wondering what the Foreign Service is all about, this book will broaden your knowledge and provide you with an insider’s view not found in any textbook.

Click to order Realities of Foreign Service Life Volume 1 from!

Click to order Realities of Foreign Service Life, Volume 2 from!

About the editors:
Patricia Linderman is President of AAFSW (2011-2013), and a writer, translator, editor and language teacher. She has lived as a Foreign Service family member in Trinidad, Chile, Cuba, Germany and Ecuador.

Melissa Brayer-Hess is a writer, teacher and former Managing Editor of AAFSW’s website. She has lived in France, Nigeria, Russia, Algeria, Egypt, and Ukraine.

Melissa and Patricia co-authored the guidebook The Expert Expat: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad.

Marlene Monfiletto Nice is a former journalist and Foreign Service spouse, now a Foreign Service Officer.

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