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Freezing Eyelashes and Fur Coats - MSCS Student visits Siberia

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Rebecca Moore

Freezing Eyelashes and Fur Coats

Distance learning student Rebecca Moore visits the coldest city and coldest village on Earth

See a Facebook photo album with more of Rebecca's photos!

There are colder places on the planet, but you won't find a colder city than Yakutsk or village than Oymyakon, where the record low is a bone chilling -96F. Makes a cold winter day in Minnesota seem like a summer afternoon!

Rebecca Moore is a distance learning student studying Computer Aided Design (CAD) Drafting Technologies at MSC Southeast. She lives in Moscow, but in February she took a trip to Siberia to experience the polar opposite of a tropical vacation. We caught up for an email interview with her in March.

Frozen Room - RussiaWhy are you living in Russia, and how did you happen to pick the coldest city in the world to visit?

I work for a Department of State contractor at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. In January, it dropped to -20F in Moscow and everyone freaked out! After a few days of this, I read an article about how this other place in Russia was laughing at the Moscovites because it was -46F there. I guess I like a challenge, or I'm just an "Anti-Tourist"; I said, "That's the place for me!" And I immediately started looking into how to visit the coldest inhabited place on earth.

Tell us about your trip to Yakutsk and Oymyakon.

When I flew from Moscow and landed in Yakutsk, it was -38F. When I left Oymyakon, it was -48F. In Yakutsk, you can see places where steam has just built up. It looks like snow, but it's actually steam, car exhaust, or even people's breath that has frozen to something and looks like snow. Obviously, ice sculptures can survive outside all winter. There are indoor grocery stores, but fresh markets outside; frozen fish and meat are displayed openly in wooden boxes. No freezer needed! 

fur-coatsMost people try to avoid wearing eyeglasses -- the metal will freeze to your face. I wore plastic frames and was fine, but mostly wore contacts. The people there wear a lot of fur. Even in Yakutsk, which is a large city and the capital of the Sakha Republic, most people wear reindeer skin boots. There isn't a lot of wind, which helps immensely, but still, my face, fingers and toes were always cold. 

The trip from Yakutsk to Oymyakon takes 20-24 hours. When you stop for a break, you have to leave the car running. At night, we put the car in a heated garage. Truck drivers just leave their trucks running 24/7 for weeks at a time. 

A lot of the driving was over or even down rivers, using them like a road. Some places we visited, you can't even get to them in the summer. There are no bridges, so you can only get there when the rivers freeze over. In November, the local government goes out to the major river near Yakutsk, clears a road, and puts out road signs. On the river!

How did you find out about MSC Southeast and why did you choose our CAD drafting program?

I have an undergraduate degree in International Business and a graduate certificate in Project Management. Mostly I work with tradespeople, and I wanted to have more skills to become qualified for contract jobs around the world. It's important to me that the school has a brick and mortar location. I was familiar with AutoCad from high school, so I cast about the internet looking for AutoCad degrees online, and that's how I found MSC Southeast. I wasn't looking for SolidWorks classes (truth be told, I didn't even know what it was), but now that I'm studying that as well, I love it!

Russian signHow does being a full-time online student work for you?

I work about 50 hours a week, so having a calendar is key! When I get the schedule of due dates for the classes, I lay them all out on the calendar, along with my work schedule, holidays, etc. On weekends, I'll often spend 8 hours straight on homework, but mostly, that's because I really like what I'm studying! I still have time for a social life, but maybe not as much as when I'm not in school. You just have to always be looking ahead and portioning out your time.

Where are you from in the States?

I'm from North Carolina. It's funny, I live in Moscow and I study through a Minnesota school, but there is another student in one of my online classes, not just from Western North Carolina, but from my actual home town!

What's it like living in Moscow?

Several of us from the Department of State contract live in the same neighborhood outside the center of the city.  In the summer, we cook out nearly every weekend. My contribution is often boiled peanuts. It's a snack from the South that I love, and one that many people have never heard of, so that's what I like to bring.  

Moscow itself has everything you would need and more, plus a fantastic metro system that makes it easy to get around...if you can read a bit of Russian!  If you plan to visit Moscow, do yourself a favor and learn the alphabet, it helps a lot!

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