One of the harder things about being in the desert is social interaction. There are two types of people when you deploy: those that accept their situation and just endure, and those that can't stop complaining about how bad they want to go home. I'm in the first group in that when I deploy, I basically turn my brain off. There aren't any major decisions to be made, and I don't really have to supervise anyone, so I just do what I'm told. I refer to it as my "robot mode." I didn't give up my personality for four months, but I just kept a lower profile. The social time I crave was filled mostly by Nick. The night before our day off, we'd usually get pizza and hang out. It was nice to relax and not think about work for a while. The hardest thing to do while deployed is forget that you're deployed.
Since you can't exactly tune in to your local television and radio stations while overseas, the military has a thing called Armed Forces Radio and Television Services (AFRTS) which broadcasts the Armed Forces Network (AFN). There are several AFN channels on television (i.e. AFN Pacific, Atlantic, News, Sports, Movies, etc.) with a pretty good variety of programming from all major stateside networks. They show sitcoms, dramas, talk shows, game shows, and even The Daily Show. I didn't get to watch much TV, but when I did, I could usually find something interesting or entertaining. The radio programming wasn't as fortunate. We could only get two stations. Freedom Radio, as it was called, was broadcast from an AFN studio in Iraq, and played a variety of music in four-hour blocks. The only time I tuned out was the "Country Convoy" from 10 AM to 2 PM. In the afternoon was usually a crazy mix of everything from The Beatles and The Doors to Ray Charles and Air Supply to Britney Spears and Def Leppard. Plus, they seemed to favour certain songs. I don't think a day went by that I didn't hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes. They had several slogans like "The most heavily armed staff on the air!" and "Broadcasting from an undisclosed location." But my favourite was "Music worth fighting for!" Sorry, but if I'm fighting to listen to Rick Astley and Hillary Duff, send me home now.