Preparing for the Arctic

The story behind

Something that seemed a little bit crazy idea at first, became reality. I am now preparing to spend a year in Spitsbergen, at the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund: 77°00’N, 15°33’E.

The story behind is quite funny actually. I felt completely burnt out after my last job and I had started looking for something that could save me from going back to full-time programming. One day a friend of mine sent me a link to an advertisement saying that the Polish Academy of Sciences (Institute of Geophysics specifically) is looking for a bunch of people willing to take part in a polar expedition. They offered a few different positions, both scientific and technical, including… IT support. Sounds like something I could do, right?

The thing is it was just a day before deadline. The arguments to apply were obvious: opportunity to travel, to experience amazing nature and to learn extremely valuable skills. The arguments against: no return ticket (unless I am seriously injured) and living for a year in a small community of ten people, in isolation from the rest of the world and in a quite harsh environment. The next day, exactly five minutes before the final date, I have sent my CV along with a carefully crafted cover letter.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the Institute in February, three months later, asking if I am still interested in joining. Sure! And then it started: medical tests. I am not even able to recall the exact number. Twenty maybe? It turned out that the only thing that stops me from going are… Teeth. I had to get rid of wisdom ones, something I should have done already couple years ago, but never had enough time. Still having two to go.

There are so many strange things to consider planning living for a year in such a remote place. How much tooth paste do I use per month? Never thought about that. Or how am I going to deal with the polar night? Do I have enough to do in my spare time? Perhaps I should find a new hobby, since programming is not an option any more? What things may break while being there? Do I have all necessary gear and what will be provided by the employer?

By June 23rd I need to know all the answers.