My First Job After University

After I graduated from university I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I had a strong desire to travel overseas. A friend told me about an opportunity to work in Antarctica. It sounded exciting and different, so I applied for a job.

McMurdo Station is the main base for the United States Antarctic Program. From this station scientists plan and complete research about the earth, oceans, climate, and animals. The scientists need help so there are many workers supporting the research. There are cooks, drivers, pilots, carpenters, doctors, firefighters, and many other workers. During the Antarctic summer (October to February) there are almost 1000 people living at the station, so there is a lot of work to be done.

I was hired as a dishwasher and was later promoted to assistant baker. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed meeting and working with everyone. Living at McMurdo Station was like living in a very small town on a very isolated island in the countryside. Everything we ate was imported and all of our trash and waste had to be taken away. In October, when the surrounding sea was still frozen, military planes could use it as a runway to deliver supplies and people. Later an icebreaker ship opened a channel, so we could get supplies from ships.

Of course, the weather was cold but we were given special clothing and spent most of our time inside. The warmest it was when I was there was 4°C and the coldest was -30°C. Only once was there a blizzard when the snow was blowing very hard and it was unsafe to go outside. Most of the time it was very dry, and the sun was out 24 hours per day. It was never night time!

The best part of living in Antarctica was the beautiful nature. McMurdo Station is on the sea surrounded by very tall snowy mountains.

Although there are no trees, there are some animals including penguins, seals, and many seabirds. When it got a little warmer and the ice started to break-up we could see whales. My coworkers and the other people at the station were also very interesting. There were old and young people from all over the US. We also had a few international visitors.

After my six-month contract finished I spent some time traveling around the South Island of New Zealand, which is a wonderful place. If you have the chance to visit I highly recommend it! Of course, I will never forget my time at McMurdo Station and the frozen world of Antarctica.