I was wiki-trolling Antartica the other day with a sudden interest in working with researchers down there. I always find myself obsessed with cold places, trying to escape the unfortunate summer weather here in Virginia. Reading on, I found out about this neat place called McMurdo Station. It's the National Science Foundation's research station in Antartica. Seeing it on Wikipedia made it sound very professional and scientific. I had to read on and see what the day-to-day life and culture in an extremely isolated place like this was like. I found this site called
Big Dead Place, which told me everything I would have liked to know and more. I was sad to find lives in McMurdo are prevalent with alcohol and sex, lacking ambition, and unsurprisingly dealing with cabin fever. From this one perspective, the brave workers of McMurdo aren't leaving too much behind, but going to Antartica for the few things it has to offer. The biggest concepts in this place are the two seasons of Antartica: Summer and Winter. Remember that since this is the southern hemisphere, the seasons are flip-flopped from the ones we have in America. The summer season has about 1,000 people on staff, working mostly laboring positions. They work about 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. They don't have many holidays off. The weather in Antarctica is quite unpredictable and this leads to the amount of work. The employees live in dorms fairly close to everything and eat at a cafeteria. The quality of life isn't what many people would favor, but is much better than some people in America currently experience. There is internet access, some TV channels, and mail all available nearby. There are places to drink and enough alcohol to go around. The few women are solicited for sex fairly often. The close knit living and working quarters lead to interesting management styles by Raytheon. The Winter season is more interesting because most of the population of the base leaves and a few choose to stay behind. The long period of darkness leads to colder weather, and complete insanity in some of those living there. They are lucky to get their own rooms, because the roommate conditions in McMurdo are quite disgusting. Of course, I have been thinking about spending a year down there. The management is currently in transition, with Lockheed Martin taking over next year. I understand living conditions down there are rough. There aren't always opportunities to travel to the actual south pole, see penguins, or even see your own family for a very long period of time. They say that like anything else, you get used to dressing for the cold. Even as it is, I want to experience McMurdo culture to see how living on the coldest continent changes people. Hey, if I graduate single, I may actually go for this one.