Questions about working in Antarctica

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    I’m thinking about applying for a job in Antarctica. Do you mind of I ask you some questions?
    Are you there now? (If so, how do you work out the e-mail & Internet? I can’t imagine you use dial ups–LOL!)
    I see that you two are married–do they have private quarters for married persons, or is everyone in one dorm?
    Are there medical facilities in case of emergencies?
    Oh–so many more questions! I hope I can bug you guys for answers. Thanks!


    Hi Joanne
    Great questions. Ones anyone going thinking about coming here would ask. First, yes I am here now. This will be my second winter. It’s in my blood I guess. As far as connections go, McMurdo has a 24 hour satellite link with the US. That means we get telephone and internet both. The internet works fairly well most of the time.Especially if you are on a computer that is hooked to the LAN. In the winter they allow people with laptops to get dial-up connections into the McMurdo Lan. It works ok for email, but is way too slow to move photo’s or big files around. If you want you can bring your laptop to the coffehouse and hook into the LAN there.
    There are lot’s of married couples here. Both spouses must be employed though. Sometimes they give out some of the janitor jobs to spouses so both can work here. During the summer when there are upwards of 1000 or more people here, everyone must have at least one roommate. Married couples get one room. If you are new to the program you will get a lower case dorm that has a common bath and shower area. If you have enough time down here , you will get an upper case dorm. 2 rooms go together to form a suite with a bath between them and a sink in every room. In the summer everyone still gets a roommate, even in the upper case dorms.
    Winter is different. There are only around 200 people. They close the lower case dorms and everyone gets either a room to themselves in the main building where the galley is or one of the upper case rooms. For married couples it means a whole suite. two rooms and a bathroom. Most make a living room out of one and  sleep in the other.
    We have a small medical clinic that could function as an emergency hospital. In the winter we have a doctor and a physicians assistant. In the summer there are nurses and revolving medical personnel from the military.
    Hope I answered your questions. Feel free to ask more.


    Thanks Mike, ok–here’s another question….(I told you I had many!) 🙂
    Research libraries. Do they have them at McMurdo?
    Also–it looks like a little town–is it?
    What do you do on your time off? Is there a recreation area to hang out or place to get something WARM like coffee?
    One more question (for now)…..Is McMurdo the only place one would get a job there or are there other stations? (Palmer??)
    Thanks (again)
    Just to make you feel better, it’s snowing heavily here in North Dakota and temp is 15F, so I feel like I’m in Antarctica today. 🙂 Share the pain with you.


    Ok, lets see. Research libraries. That’s a hard one. I believe that there is a research library available to scientists who are down on grants. It is located in the upstairs portion of the Crary Lab, the main science building here. The problem is that I don’t know who outside of grantees have access to it. If you want run of the mill info about antarctica then there is the McMurdo Library. It is staffed by volunteers and has hundreds of novels ect. plus a far number of antarctic specific books. It’s a good start. Also during the summer season there a  number of polar historians who put on programs about the early explorations of the pole. We have a living museum walking distance from here. It’s the hut that Robert Scott built during his first attempt at the pole in 1902. Inside are food cans and equipment, preserved for a hundred years. It is antarctic heritage site and the number of visitors are limited each year. Farther away and visitable only at the begining of the summer is Scotts Cape Evans hut.The one he used in1912 (or there abouts) when he died trying to be the first to reach the pole. It is awesome to visit as it looks pretty much the way it did when he died. The newspapers and tools are there as if they will be returning any minute. It’s a must do if you get down here.
    On my time off there is plenty to do here. For most people there are several recreation areas. A coffee house that offers cappucino style coffee and a wine bar also has 2 computers on several LAN hookups for laptops. It has a wing  that is used as a movie theater and for music shows.
    There are two bars. The first , Southern Exposure, is a smokers bar. Some people can hack it but I feel like I have to wash my clothes everytime I go in. The other is Gallaghers. Named after an employee who got sick and died here a few years ago, it is non smoking and also sports a burger bar a couple of times a week for people who get tired of eating in the galley.
    There is an aerobics gym, a weight gym, a basketball-volleyball-soccer gym, and a bowling alley (people stand at the back and reset the pins). Recreation also sponsers bingo nights, kareoke nights, acoustic concerts and parties as well as fun events like midwinter races to scott base. All in all there is a lot to do here.
    For me I do other things. You may see the Clark and Mike Antarctic Adventures photos on the webpage. He and I regularly run recreation trips out of town. This year we are planning to do an antarctic yearbook with photo’s. On Wednesday night I’m taking a  geology telecourse. A couple of nights a week I try to get to the ham radio shack and if there is any time left over I try to get some sleep. Ha just joking.
    Winter in Antarctica is more suited to the type of person who can make their own enjoyments.
    The answer to the last question is there are several places to work. In the summer most everyone comes to Mcmurdo. From here there are several field camps that have semi permanant staff during the summer but close up for the winter. Palmer station on the penninsula has 50 or so people. They get boats all year so the staff rotates through pretty regularly. South pole also has permanant year round staff.
    As far the snow falling in south dakota. You probably get far more snow than we get here. The atmosphere is too cold to hold much moisture. It is drier here than the Sahara desert. It’s just that the little bit that falls blows around for weeks so it always looks like it’s storming. You can’t see your feet but if you look up the moon and stars are out.
    hope I answered your questions

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