North and South

July 1, 2013


So, in a hilariously tragic turn, I, of all people, have lost my passport. With only twelve hours to spare before my flight, I was forced to reschedule. I decided to push it back to September 1st, so keep an eye out for trip details around then. This, of course, means that I won’t be attending the class I was hoping to attend, but at least I can hang out in Finland for awhile.

It’s been just about a year since I last posted to this blog. I figure it’s about time to give everybody a heads-up about where I’m at.

First and foremost, I’m a college graduate now. It’s been about eight years in the making, including all that dilly-dallying at Seattle Central after high school, my decision to major in Slavic Languages at the University of Washington, living in Serbia for awhile, and finally coming back and deciding to also major in Linguistics. The first (and really only) thing I’ve noticed so far is that I don’t need to think about when I’m going to do my homework every day, so that’s pretty nice. I ended up getting a BA in Linguistics and a BA in Eastern European Language, Literature, and Culture (or EELLC, for obvious reasons). I worked reasonably hard over the last four or so years and it ended up paying off, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.88 departmental GPA.

The focus of this blog, as my established readership knows, however, is not higher education, so we’ll move from that topic quickly. I have not been abroad since my last blog post in June of 2012 which explains the significant hiatus in blog-related activities. Many of you who know me know that a strong drive for adventure defines many of the things I do. That same drive has manifested itself, in varying degrees over the years, as a motivation to live and work in Antarctica. The seriousness with which I have approached that subject has also fluctuated over the years, with its zenith some time around December 2012. Both Meredith and I, after a rollercoaster of emotions over the several month application process, were hired on at McMurdo Station. Due to the isolation, winter deployments require a psychological evaluation in addition to the standard medical and dental examinations. Going into the whole ordeal, I figured the psychological eval would just be a formality, since I’m sane and all. As it turns out, I didn’t end up passing it. The news of that development was pretty soul-crushing. I found myself back at square one; after having made remarkable progress through the bureaucracy and red tape to the point of being noticed and actually getting hired! Perhaps the most upsetting of all was the feeling that if this organization just knew me on a personal level, they would understand how dedicated I am, and how ideal I really am for such a position. However, at that point there was not much to be done, it had been decided that I was not going. I had the following months to reflect on the answers I gave to the standardized personality inventory, I concluded that I failed to give an accurate representation of myself to the organization. In an attempt to portray myself as somewhat balanced on most grounds, I subverted any positive impact I could have made by coming off as inconsistent. The extremely thin, and entirely unsatisfying silver lining to the situation was that I’d have time to graduate. Had I deployed, I would have left in February 2013 and been forced to leave school again before graduating.

The pain and frustration subsided, as those things do. In their place was a new-found resolve to finish the job. Meredith has already secured a job at McMurdo and will be deploying in August. I’m trying my hardest to do the same, but the hiring organization for IT positions in Antarctica is a black box to the outsider and it’s extremely difficult to get noticed as a first-timer. Hopefully I’ll have some good news for you within the next few months/years.

What a buzz-kill, huh? On a lighter note, I’ve spent the last three quarters at school studying Finnish, as I proposed to do in one of my blog posts last year. I heard about a study abroad opportunity funded by the Finnish government wherein foreign students are hosted in Finland for about a month to study the language. I applied and was accepted. I was placed in an intermediate program in Vaasa, on the Gulf of Bothnia in Western Finland. I, along with 25 or so other students, will be studying Finnish in Finland for the majority of July 2013. I’m flying into Helsinki on July 2nd, spending a few days kayaking around the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park, then heading up to Vaasa for three weeks, then back to Helsinki for a couple of days in time to fly back to Seattle on July 30th.

Photo credit:, or some third party that they didn’t give credit to.

I’m very excited about all of that. If I had known the scheduling intricacies when I was planning all this I likely would have thought harder about my decision. On the other hand, things change very quickly in Antarctica and positions can open up without much warning, so I’m still clinging to the hope that something may come up at McMurdo between now and October (the typical starting month for Austral summer contracts in Antarctica).

Anyhow, wish me the best (or else), and you’ll be hearing from me again soon with a recap of my time in Finland.

One Response to “North and South”

  1. kathyjesse Says:

    Good luck, Ian! One of my best friends is Finnish American, and grew up in the UP of Michigan, speaking only Finnish as a child.

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