When I grow up…

I want to be a doctor. In space.


Canadian astronaut Dr. Dave Williams

It’s a universal fact: every kid’s dream in kindergarten is to become an astronaut. Well, ignoring the occasional firefighter, cowboy, and dentist wannabes. Okay, nobody ever really wants to be a dentist. They just wake up in dental school one day. There are also kids like my younger brother David who, in grade one, announced that when he grew up, he just wanted to sit in the back of taxis and talk to people. In other words, get an arts degree.

But after checking out the Canadian Space Agency’s website, I realize that my four-year-old self had it totally wrong. There’s a job out there that’s actually higher on the cool-o-meter than astronaut. It’s a combination more ingenious than chocolate and peanut butter.

It’s an astronaut. With an MD.

The idea of orbiting thousands of kilometers above the Earth is awesome. And messing around with bacterial life forms is even more cool (and is just begging for a broken test tube that leads to a deadly super virus). But the two of them? Combined? It means only one thing: messing around with bacterial life forms in zero gravity.

Someone I know recently applied to the Canadian Space Agency’s national astronaut recruitment campaign, which will replace the two retiring Canadian astronauts. First I had to get over the fact that Canada has a space program. And unlike Canadian Idol, it isn’t just the annoying younger brother of the American version. We actually send people into space. For sleep-overs at the Space Station.

It was fascinating to watch someone go through the application process. And it was even more interesting to learn some of the cool little details about living in outer space. Like how astronauts have to choose what foods they’re going to eat in space several months before the actual launch. And since they’re surrounded by microgravity, dry foods could contaminate the environment. Meaning, astronauts on the space station have an even bigger threat than asteroids, black holes and zombie aliens: a loaf of bread. Extra crumbly.

When an astronaut sneezes? There’s an emergency evacuation and contamination clean-up crew, and the person who sneezed has to suffer through dirty looks for the rest of the mission.

Then there’s the fact that while astronauts are orbiting the earth, they experience 16 sunsets every 24 hours. Plus the “NASA tradition” of having wake-up calls during shuttle missions. A song is broadcasted into the cabin every morning, selected in advance by each astronaut. So there’s an even more efficient way to make every other astronaut hate your guts than just sneezing all over the dashboard.

As in, choosing my favourite song as a wake-up call.


When I grow up…

  1. Ohh my god – Scott, i laugh my head off reading every one of your posts, but that peanut butter jelly song has reached a new scale of hysteria. i eagerly await your next article :D

    And yeah, that whole astronaut md thing sounds pretty cool. I’m from australia, but i want to move to canada for uni (im 15) to study medical science or astrophysics :)
    xxxx Bee

    And i love peanut butter and chocolate!! Reeses much? the ones with caramel in them too are well hectic :P

  2. Hee hee hee… that comments about the arts degree is ingenious, and unfortunately, so true :D *laughs head off* Guess what I’m planning to go into school for? Yep. :P

  3. Hey Bee,

    I’m thrilled to know you’re enjoying my posts, that’s great :)

    That’s really interesting that you’re considering coming to Canada for university. What made you choose Canada?

    By the way, how did someone in Australia even find the Maclean’s website?


  4. Sarah,

    Oh no, you’re going to the dark side. Say it ain’t so.

    Then again, I can now say I have a friend in the Arts. What are you going into, specifically?


  5. Sadly, I am in arts :) Music to be more specific. But see, it’s so much fun to be in the arts… you can do crazy things that can be explained away by the simple phrase “I’m a musician.” I’ve been playing violin for close to eleven years now, and I can honestly say that the idea of practicing a phrase until my brains hurt sounds better than dissecting rats :)

  6. Well, this is totally unpatriotic and all, but I can’t wait to get of Australia – I want to see the world and all that jazz. Canada seems like a really cool place to go. I’ve never actually been before, so I’m looking at going on an exchange for a month or two over the summer.
    I have no idea how I found the website. It was a link straight to your blog though.

    And you know what, funnily enough, when I was about 3-4ish. I wanted to be a ”moon doctor”. I figured that with all the astronauts on the moon, what would happen if one got sick? I planned to live up there and treat them :D but that was back when I thought that you could actually sit on clouds – my other dream was to have a picnic on one (I live next to a huge valley and some mornings it would just fill up with mist like an ocean) Suffice to say, my dreams are slightly more realistic now.

    What are your thoughts on Canada? Any suggestions on places to visit or stay if I come for an exchange? What’s the weather like? What subjects do you do at school? Tell me everything!

    XX Bee

  7. Hey Bee,

    If you’re considering coming to Canada for university, I’d definitely recommend the University of Waterloo. It has great engineering and math programs. Unless you don’t like squirrels, because for some reason, there are about eight billion squirrels on campus for every student, professor, librarian, and molecule of air.

    I told my parents about you, and they encouraged me to let you know that if you ever do come out this way, we’d be happy to show you around our part of Canada :)

    As for the weather in Canada, it really depends on what part you’re talking about- it really varies. But Ontario is pretty temperate.

    Oh, and as for what subjects I’m taking, I have biology, physics, political sciences, anthropology, and, unfortunately, chemistry this semester.

    My science classes also have a lab component, but the cool white lab coat makes it almost worthwhile. Of course, the goofy-looking goggles cancel out everything.

    If you want to learn more about some of the best universities in Canada, be sure to register for Maclean’s on campus virtual fair. It’s completely free! Here’s a link:



  8. hahaha no i don’t mind squirrels. it would be a little hypocritical for someone who rides a kangaroo to school. I’m defiantly coming to canada at the end of november until february (i cant wait!) but i still don’t know exactly where. I’ll defiantly check our the virtual fair thingy – thanks for the tip :)

Sign in to comment.