When I first tell people that I have a job in Antarctica, I get a range of reactions. Some people are super excited for me, some think I am crazy (they are probably half right) and others simply ask me why. I like to think that the first reaction is the most common. I feel incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to live on the southernmost continent and call one of the most pristine environments in the World my home, something few can claim. So how did I get to this point? How did I get this job? When do I leave? And of course why?
For me, the why is easy. I have always been intrigued by Antartica and so getting there has been something I have long dreamed of. It’s hard putting into words exactly what draws me to this place. Part of it, I guess, is the adventure… experiencing something so different to anything I have ever experienced before. The wilderness and the remoteness of this place almost enters the realm of mystical. The other part is the science. To put it simply, it’s really freaking cool (literally haha). Antarctica is all about the science. Over the last couple of weeks I have gotten to hear about some of the past, current and upcoming science and I can’t help but geek out a little. In terms of getting there, it’s a little less complicated than you might think. For me, the idea of working and living at Scott Base was originally sown by a long time friend that had previously visited Antarctica (thanks Lana!!!). Lana had worked for Scott Base as a domestic before and talked with such passion and said how much I would love it, I guess it stuck with me. However, at this time I was still at university finishing my thesis in Zoology and the jobs weren’t open. It was just not quite the right time. So as it does, life moved on and the idea planted itself somewhere in the back of my brain.
Fast forward down the track, I have completed my thesis and moved to Australia to rock climb, earn money and travel. I spent a year working as an outdoor educator, leant a tonne but was ready for my next adventure. The old noggin had started brain storming adventure ideas when this recruitment advert for Scott Base popped up on my Facebook timeline. The timing felt perfect for me. I scanned the list of current positions and saw one I could definitely apply for (domestic) and a couple of others that I would like to apply for but my experience was probably lacking. I am not the most experienced domestic in the world but have done several summers working in a motel as a cleaner. So I filled out the application form (it was pretty comprehensive) and then thought nothing much of it. I honestly didn’t think I would hear back from Antarctica NZ because my impression was that you needed to apply a few times before they took you seriously. However, to my surprise, a few weeks later I got a phone call and did a phone interview. A few weeks after that initial phone call I got asked to do a Skype interview, this is when I really started to get excited. The Skype interview was followed by interviews with my referees and online psychometric testing (not my favourite thing). I was told that they would let me know by the end of the month if I had a job offer. I think I was holding my breath for the next few weeks, I really wanted this job but also didn’t want to get my hopes up because I would be so disappointed. Then on the very last day of June in the evening I got the phone call…… I HAD A JOB AT SCOTT BASE! So much excitement but I don’t think it had quite sunk in yet. The next part was completing the online training, sending in my sizes for clothing and of course medical and dental checks. The medical was very comprehensive and included TB checks and blood screening. It’s the best health check you will ever get! The dental check, however, was a little more stressful as by this stage it was not that long until I was flying out and I needed work done so ended up doing it over two countries, not ideal.
So now I have been here in Christchurch training (I will talk about training in another article) for the last three weeks. The team has gotten to know each other and is looking forward to getting down there. For half of the crew Wednesday the 20th is departure day. The other half follow shortly behind on Friday. We fly down incase you were wondering, we are lucky to be on a passenger plane so should get some fantastics views. So bring on my summer on ice!