I realized today that I neglected to mention a rather important fact in my previous blog posts. And while a fair proportion of you probably already figured this out through facebook posts, it’s a big enough deal that’s it’s worth mentioning in more detail.
I’m staying here for the winter.
I know that it was hinted at before, but it’s been official now for about a week. I was offered the position about 2 hours after signing an alternate contract and I said yes. Since then, I’ve had to go through the PQ process. This began with a psych test last Friday.
The worst part about my psych test was the fact that it took place at 0700 hours. I don’t work until 1000 hours so basically, I had to get up early, take a test, and then work for 11 hours. Gag.
The psych test involved about 500 T/F questions that ranged from, “Would you enjoy the work of a race car driver?” to “Do you ever feel as though someone is in control of your mind?” It also involved a 10 minute personal interview with a doctor. Those questions included, “Have you ever used illegal drugs?” to “What are your greatest strengths?” It was like an interogation mixed with a job interview.
A week ago today, I reported to McMurdo General Hospital for some physical tests. I had a dental exam, got blood drawn for an HIV test, and had a chest x-ray. So far, I’m all checked out with the exception of the blood test which needs to be sent to Christchurch for results. I’m assuming that will be okay and I’ll be PQ’ed and ready to go!
Staying the winter at McMurdo means that I’ll be down here until at least August 24th. I’ve heard that, depending on needs, the August 24th deadline can be extended as far as October. Either way, it’s a long time. I’ve been thinking lately and here’s some things that I’ll go 200+ without seeing/having:
Bugs – there are no insects in Antarctica
Wild vegetation- They have a greenhouse, but it’s not the same.
A person under 21 years old.
My own bathroom.
My Family – (they’re tops)
New Anything – Unless you count the things avaliable to buy at the store here, and that’s a limited selection.
Temperatures above Freezing – I guess there’s still a chance for this, but for sure not above 40 degrees.
On the other hand, things that I will see:
A 3+ month long nighttime – I’m not sure of the exact number of days, but it’s a long time
The Southern Lights
The Southern Constellations – and, if wikipedia is be believed, various nebula in the Milky Way
The same 170 people for 5 months – and ONLY those 170 people
Hopefully some more Penguins
Either way, it’s going to be an adventure. It’s just a bummer that it will conincide with a 54 hour work week. Additionally, it’s not like I can bow out at any time. Once the plane leaves in March, it’s not coming back until August. I’m in it for the long haul, for better or worse (I’m pretty sure it will be for better).
I’ll see you all in September, when I finally return to the sunny, warm North.