Despite what you might think, station life is pretty normal. It reminds me a lot of summer camp or college because you stay in a dorm style room, you go to the dining hall for meals, there is a clinic, gym and even a church. Because so many people are down here (100-200 stay over the wintertime too) quite a lot of social activities have evolved. You can sign up for intramural sports like dodge ball and soccer, there are yoga classes every week, there is a rock climbing wall and bouldering gym, bowling alley, a ceramics room and even a local radio station. There are three bars at the station that usually host talent shows, open mic nights or parties. One guy even started a program after the US TV show called “The Biggest Loser: Antarctica” to help people lose weight! The people at McMurdo have also established some trails around the area that you can hike or ski in your free time if you’ve taken the Outdoor Safety class. You can even rent cross country skis and other outdoor gear for free.
The station itself looks pretty ugly because all the buildings are designed for function (not style) and look like warehouses from the outside. Inside though, they look like normal academic buildings and labs. At first I was surprised to learn that I’d be able to access the internet at all but I didn’t expect almost all of the station to be equipped with wireless access. Even some of the field camps have wireless access (in the trailers). I can also call home from a regular land line telephone. One important thing I have to remember when calling home- I’m 18 hours ahead of the east coast! McMurdo station keeps New Zealand time, so when it’s noon on Sunday in Maryland, it’s 8am on Monday here!