Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, the main venue for the Arctic Circle Conference (internet photo).

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, the main venue for the Arctic Circle Conference (internet photo).

I know that phrase is supposed to apply to March, but it seemed fitting for this post since October has officially been the busiest month I’ve had at work since joining the Foreign Service. I’ve filled in working in the Front Office before, but this is the first time that it’s been my full-time job. So I’ve had all the fun of learning a new job in a new embassy in a new country with a few extra elements.

The biggest one being that there’re usually two OMSs in the Front Office, one for the Ambassador and one for the Deputy Chief of Mission. About six weeks after I arrived at post, the Ambassador’s OMS permanently departed, and her replacement doesn’t arrive until November. So I’ve had the opportunity to jump in and do both jobs.

The second big thing has been bidding season. We have half a dozen jobs that are turning over next year, so I’ve been collecting bidder packages for over sixty candidates and scheduling and facilitating interviews from bidders all over the world…lots of time-zone fun to be had.

We also had one of our largest annual events…the Arctic Circle Conference. Not to be confused with the Arctic Council, which is an official intergovernmental forum with eight member countries, the Arctic Circle Conference is an open assembly started in 2013 by Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson “to facilitate dialogue among political and business leaders, environmental experts, scientists, indigenous representatives, and other international stakeholders to address issues facing the Arctic as a result of climate change and melting sea ice.”

This year’s conference was attended by over 13,000 people and included such high-profile speakers as Prince Albert II of Monaco and President of France Francois Hollande. The US represented well with participation from Senator Angus King from Maine; Fran Ulmer, who’s the Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and previous Lieutenant Governor of Alaska; Rear Admiral Matthias Winter, who’s Chief of Naval Research; and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nordic/Baltic Affairs Ben Ziff.

Me and Fran Ulmer.

Me and Fran Ulmer at the Arctic Circle Reception at the US Embassy.

So needless to say, everyone at our little embassy in Reykjavik was crazy busy supporting the conference and our VIP visitors and hosting an associated reception. Lots of overtime for everyone!

Outside of work we’ve enjoyed our first dustings of snow as winter approaches, glimpsed a few more auroras, visited the Reykjavik zoo and family park, had afternoon tea at the Hilton with a couple great ladies from the diplomatic community, invited some other friends for Sunday brunch, and yesterday attended the Embassy employee Halloween party, which was lots of fun. I also joined the PTA for the first time ever.

I love the fact that most of the kids at post are around our son’s age. He’s got a great little group of friends going, which makes me happy. And my hubby also started working again, which always makes him happy as well.

So here’s to November being a tad bit quieter and more relaxing. 🙂

Our first bit of snow in the back yard.

Our first bit of snow in the back yard.

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