While serving as a communications specialist in Iraq, Juan Ramos, 24, is earning college credits online. He told the Miami Herald his classes help ”to combat the loneliness, boredom and desperation that comes with life in this country.”
Ramos once toured half the bases in Iraq to pick up a textbook — when a package mailed by his mother was accidentally delivered to his old base and he hitched a ride on a helicopter that changed schedules. He divides his free time between the gym and the computer screen. He chats with friends online for hours, with Web cameras in real time. He checks his stocks, uses the phone and makes friends through an account on MySpace. He buys books through Amazon or downloads music on iTunes.
Ramos, on his third tour in Iraq, eventually hopes to complete an engineering degree.