This is a story about living in McMurdo, told in 3 separate parts. This third and final installment of “A day in the life” will focus on another common question I get about Antarctica: What’s it like where you live?


A line of dorm buildings in McMurdo Station. Photo by: Ashley Shaw

We live in dormitories in McMurdo and have anywhere from 1 to 3 roommates depending on the building arrangement. Luckily, I am sharing a room with another wormherder, Tandra, which is great because we work on the same project and share the same schedule. Others aren’t so lucky and share their rooms with roommates who work in different departments, keeping much different hours and schedules. When you have a roommate who has a totally different schedule from you, this is very tough because you both end up interrupting each other’s sleep – making for a very tired season.

There are 16 buildings that are considered dormitories, but most of us end up in 203, 206, 207, 208, or 209. Each of these buildings has a lounge area with a TV and sometimes a pool table or an area to play games and hang out. Sometimes we go there after working to watch a movie or hang out, but most of the time we go straight to bed, exhausted from a long day of working. There is a 24-hour quiet policy in the dorms to allow for rest, so the lounges are a good place to chat so as to not disturb others who may be working different shifts or are on different sleep schedules. There are also laundry facilities in some buildings, shared bathrooms, and sometimes even a sauna. One dorm has a library where you can check out books.


A typical dorm room in McMurdo has 2 twin beds, 2 wardrobes, 2 small chest of drawers, and a desk. Photo by: Ashley Shaw

The dorms are not hotels and there are no maids in McMurdo, so each of us has to contribute to keeping our dormitories clean. We perform weekly duties called our “House mouse” chores. This could be anything from taking out the trash, tidying up a lounge, vacuuming the lounge, cleaning the laundry room, or vaccuming the halls. Last week, Tandra and I swept, vacuumed and mopped the front entryway and stairs of our dorm building for our House Mouse duties.


Ashley doing her ‘house mouse’ chore for the week. Photo by: Tandra Fraser

If you forgot something from home or you want to buy some souvenirs, the station store is open for a few hours on most days. They sell snacks, toiletries, t-shirts, hats, stickers, and other goodies. You can also check out movies to watch and they have a pretty big selection. Overall, many of the comforts of home are available on station, but of course, it takes place in a community setting that leaves many of us feeling like we’re back in college.

Written by: Ashley Shaw