Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living in Barrow

I returned from the village trips on June 1st and have been living in Barrow for the past 2 & 1/2 weeks. I realize now that I have yet to write about what it is like to live at the top of the world. 

What is Barrow like?

Just a view of the dirt roads and the grocery store
Cold. Windy. Those would be the first 2 words I would use to describe Barrow. The temperature has been in the 30's, until this week when the temperature spiked to mid-40's, even reaching 50 on Sunday. However, even if it reached 50, it sure didn't feel like it. The wind is a constant, with average speeds somewhere around 20 mph. Thus, the windchill makes even a sort of warm 47 degree day feel cold. The children don't seem to mind. They walk around in t-shirts on the 40 something degree days, sometimes wearing shorts and flip flops too....not me. I'm bundled up constantly. Wind blocking gloves are a must, and my winter jacket with a warm beanie hat are necessities.

Dirt. It's everywhere. There are no paved roads in Barrow because of the permafrost. Instead, dirt roads are maintained daily with tractors type machines to help prevent pot holes and watering trucks wet down the roads to keep dust from flying everywhere. I've learned to walk on the upwind side of the road to prevent dust from being blown into my face or mouth by a passing truck. 

Dust. The veterinary clinic is kept quite warm inside. We keep the windows open most of the time to cool it down. However, within 10 minutes of opening a window, one will notice a thin layer of dust forming on the countertops, computers, etc. 

Where do I live?

This is the house where I live
(this is from when I first arrived, the snow has now melted away)
I am currently renting a room from the veterinary technician/office manager, Rose. She is a couple years older than I am and has a ton of experience working as a vet tech.  She has two dogs, a very old corgi, McKenzie, and a little chihuahua, Boogie, who like to bark every time I open my bedroom door. The house is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, with a decent sized kitchen and an arctic entrance (aka mudroom). It's in a great location, only a short 7 minute walk to the vet clinic and an even shorter walk to the library and the grocery store. However, it is almost a mile and a half to the church and the recreation center. 

What have I been doing?

My coworker, Dante, and I in the dugout
Well, I've kept myself busy during the work days by helping out at the veterinary clinic. Dr. Coburn is out of town working with bearded seals, so we are not seeing any appointments, except for routine vaccinations. I've also been working on my senior paper. In vet school, we are required to research a topic, write a paper (10-20 pages) and present it to our classmates & faculty during our senior year. I'm writing my paper on Arctic Rabies and I am currently working on researching and gathering infomation. The veterinary clinic internet is slow, so I've been doing most of my research at the local library, whose internet is just a tiny bit faster. Imagine the dial-up internet days.....

I have also been helping out with an activity camp for children, ages 1-5, on the weeknights from 6pm-7pm. We basically set up obstacle courses, sing songs, and eat snacks.  

Last weekend, there was a softball tournament. I was recruited to play on the health department's team, even though I can't remember the last time I swung a bat. Our team did not go far in the tournament, but we all had a great time. I even made it to home a couple of times! 

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