You may be looking at my new swim buddy.
I was reading the May 2007 edition of Men's Journal today in the bathroom. I flipped through page after page of manly endeavors, adventures and boasts. A small blurb caught my attention. Amidst the para-gliding, treacherous nighttime skiing, and mountain climbing, I found something brilliant. Antarctica. I'm not talking about whale watching trips or just flying in to check it out. I'm talking about, no bullshit, taking up residence on the southern most continent.
When it comes to travel, I'm no tourist; I want to live and breath the places I go. So when I got to the italicized text after the blurb about popping in and doing shots at the bottom of the Earth, my heart raced. Not just because I was answering nature's call, but because I think I heard a calling of a different sort. In that text there was a link to Raytheon's Polar Services website with the promise of work opportunities.
I'm no stranger to Raytheon, I ran into a few of their contractors in Iraq, but I had no idea they were at the South Pole too. Apparently, they operate the facilities down there and they hire employees through seasonal contracts in a variety of support fields. Not everyone working at a research station is a scientist. They've got mail clerks, couriers, communication technicians, carpenters, plumbers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and so forth. There are four to six month contracts available during the Antarctic summer, and eight to ten month contracts available for the winter.
Now, I've learned one thing about companies that fill complicated and unusual government contracts; they pay top-dollar. There's no environment more extreme than the polar ice caps, so I imagine that the pay is probably none too shabby. Even if it paid crap, which I find hard to believe, I'd probably come back with 97% of the money I made while I was there... since, to my knowledge, they don't have any malls or fancy restaurants on the South Pole.
So, here's my plan. I've applied to go to college this fall. I'll go to school for three semesters, then I'll take a year off and work ten months in Antarctica doing one of several jobs I'm qualified to do. Then I'll come back with enough money to pay for the remainder of my college. I should be pretty close to graduation by then, given the number of credits I have from DLI. Who knows? I may be able to finagle some college credit out of the whole thing. After all, it is a scientific research station. Not to mention that they boast scientific lectures and all sorts of educational garbage. Think of it as the most profitable and exotic study abroad program ever.
If Iraq taught me anything, it's that I write best when I'm in an environment without distractions. You don't get more distraction-free than Antarctica. It's just you, the birds, the nerds and the snow. There's a book down there, it's waiting for me.
Apparently they'll also let me ski. That's a plus.
So hopefully, two years from now I'll be living here...