A TIROLable week.
…Aha get it, I went skiing in the TIROL (an area in southern Austria), and it was a hard week… I can hear you all laughing from here ! Aha.
Anyway, THE MOMENT YOU HAVE ALL (mum + 3 others) BEEN WAITING FOR. THE SCHOOL SKIING TRIP BLOG HAS DROPPED.
Blood, sweat, and tears went into the creation of the content for this blog (really quite literally), so I hope you enjoy !
As some of you keen fans might remember, at the end of last term, I managed to get myself invited onto the school ski trip. I’d heard about it quite early on in the first term and low key really wanted to go… but I didn’t want to actually invite myself. Luckily, they needed another female teacher to join (lol I still forget that’s me, hi, I’m a teacher), so when I was asked, I was SO excited and felt SO privileged, and to be honest quite touched that they thought I was capable of going (again, as if I’m actually a teacher)… As the trip drew nearer and nearer however, I started to realise I’m:
A = not a teacher
B = not a ski teacher
C = not German
Aha, well done Alex, you just played yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I can ski. I’ve been skiing at least twice a year since I was 5 years old, and I LOVE the mountains / Austria, so becoming a ski instructor is something I’ve always wanted to do… Before the ski week with school it was just something hadn’t quite found the right time to do it yet. Which, just to be clear, I DID tell the other teachers who were coming on the trip with me, and they (including the headmaster) didn’t seem to think it would be an issue…
I’m not saying it was an issue, but being an actual qualified instructor FOR SURE would have helped… if anything it would have helped my nerves before I went because I was ACTUALLY SHITTING IT. To the extent that when I facetimed home the night before I actually didn’t want to hang up, it felt like I was leaving my parents at the airport… only I was in my little room in Boppard packing my suitcase by myself. Lol.
Let me tell you, I had to pack LOTS of big girl pants (sexy or what). If this isn’t a ‘put your big girl pants on and get on with it’ situation, I don’t know what is.
So, without further ado let’s get into this shit storm…
I awoke nice and early, and bless her, despite it being 6:45am (although I low key think she usually has breakfast that early on Saturday mornings anyway), Frau Nicky had breakfast with me.
I (with my first set of big girl pants on) headed to school and helped load all the skis / ski boots / poles / cases / kids (important) onto the bus which actually worked really well because the kids formed a “Kette” (chain) of people and passed everything along.
Honestly the most impressive piece of German efficiency I’ve witnessed so far this year. AND all I had to do was stand next to them and shout “KETTE” every now and again.
The journey took 11 hours. That was not so fun, it was however really weird to be at the front of the bus with the teachers and not at the back with the cool kids (… jokes I never got to sit at the back, sad reacts only 😦 ).
I also managed a whole conversation about the future of Brexit with one of the other teachers!
Well, when I say I “managed” it, it was a bit of a car crash. Future conditional tense is so TRICKY, and definitely not something I use every day with Frau Nicky (we usually talk about the royal family, where I try and convince her that, despite what she reads in trashy German magazines, no, the Duke of Edinburgh isn’t German, and no, the Queen hasn’t died), so it was total word vomit, but I gave representing Britain at this … troubled time… MY VERY BEST SHOT.
After 11 hours, lots of German jokes I didn’t understand, the Brexit convo, and the bus (and its trailer) getting stuck and having to reverse in the snow onto a main road, we arrived at the youth hostel where the kids did exactly the same thing to unload the skis / boots / poles / luggage and I stood, this time in the snow, shouting “KETTE”. Working hard as per.
We went in with the kids and had dinner with them before giving out room allocations – God I forgot how much of a big deal that is when you are 12. Turns out there’s lots of drama in year 8… much more drama than I have…
After giving out the helmets, and sending the kids off to their rooms, I joined the teachers (lol that’s me again) for a drink which was actually so nice, and we discussed how we were going to separate the groups the next day… aaanndd I started to get really nervous again. I wasn’t reallyyy sure what the plan was because it was all in really fast German, so I just said “ja” a lot (shock) and prayed it would be alright.
I mean how difficult could it be to teach 70 kids to ski?
I went off to bed with the lady I was sharing a room with. A brother and sister, who are actual ski instructors (helpful), always join the school on the ski trip to help out and I was sharing a room with the sister, thank God because otherwise it would have been one of the middle-aged male teachers and I in a room… cosy. The lady was actually so lovely, but it was a bit of a shock because I hadn’t shared a bed with a stranger in a while. Haha, (fingers crossed you have stopped reading by now mum).
DAY 1 let’s be having you.
My new roomie and I awoke nice and early (6:30 starts everyday – CARPE DIEM AM I RIGHT?!) and headed to breaky with all my ski stuff ready to go.
So far so good.
Helped the kids put their ski boots on… I forgot what a strange concept it is to literally lock your feet into a boot you can’t move in, so unsurprisingly, some of them were struggling, so I went around and shared all my superior ski-boot-knowledge with them… “as long as your foot is in, it’ll be fine”.
Told you I was an expert.
We then got on the bus and arrived at the ski area where I, and a few other teachers who knew far better than I what we were meant to be doing, assessed the kids who had said they could ski… I mean some of them could… and some little shits definitely lied on the form.
I then took the most advanced group with (luckily) another teacher, because teaching total beginners and TRICKY and I for sure would not have been able to do that in German.
So, myself and the other teacher headed up the gondola with the kids who could ski and left the other teachers with the other 50 kids to teach how to ski. I did NOT envy them, wow that really is quite the task.
This is when it all started to go a bit tits up (theme of the week). We did a few runs, and even though the kids were for sure at different levels they were quite good… until 7 of them decided to ski off on their own route and we lost them. Great.
So, the other teacher, the 3 kids we had left, and I skied down to the bottom to wait for the others to find their own way back… 2 hours later they turned up and weren’t allowed to ski for the rest of the day. They were convinced it was because of my bad instruction, but I’m just saying I definitely said to wait at the corner… needless to say I had many a death stare for the rest of the day. Character building.
At least that left us with only 63 to teach tbf.
To finish the day, I went off with the 3 left from our group in the afternoon and actually did some good skiing with them… until we skied back down to the bottom and all my nerves caught up with me at the idea of all the other teachers watching me ski… and everything went to shit.
One of the real ski instructors then called me over to the side and, to quote, I thought “this is it”. I don’t think he’s a very tactful guy at the best of times… he even criticised the way I was holding my poles.
Now I have to say, usually this wouldn’t bother me because I know I’m a better skier than that, but the combination of everything that had happened that day, nerves, and his comments meant I honestly nearly burst into tears.
Pathetic I know.
Luckily, I kept my SHIT TOGETHER and finished the whole day speaking German without tears – RESULT.
I was shit scared about this day, I wasn’t really sure what I was meant to be doing and I was convinced my skiing was shite. A good start.
Got up early / had breaky / remembered to take something for lunch (another error from day 1) / got on the bus to the ski place. In terms of skiing this day was actually lots of fun (to begin with), I had the group (all 9 of them this time) who could actually ski and we actually did SO much skiing. Quite a few of them were as good as me / better so we just did so so much, the sun was shining, I didn’t loose any of them, life was GOOD.
Don’t get too excited, there is more disaster for you to laugh at here.
We were doing our last whole run, the sun was shining, birds were tweeting, kids were… all in one piece !
As we got to the last section of the piste, I told the kids they could ski in front of me down to the lift, so I could watch how they skied, and keep an eye on them all to make sure they all went to the right place… harder than it sounds believe me.
As I let my little birds spread their wings, within 10 seconds, one of them had fallen over. As soon as I saw it happen from the top of the slope, I poetically thought to myself… “ahh shit.” Bless him, he had taken a corner a little too quickly, hit a mogul of snow, lurched into the air, and fallen straight on his nose.
IF you don’t like blood, I would recommend skipping this bit ya weaklings (Duxbury I’m looking at you x).
Equipped with a first aid kit stuck to my belt loop I skied down to help and my GOODNESS there was a lot of blood. It was just flooding and flooding out of his nose, really quite quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I have dealt with ski accidents before (pros of always skiing with your brother), but this really was something else, and somehow, I didn’t think my plasters and strepsils were going to be of much use…
SO, I tried to calm him down, which to be honest was quite difficult seeing as he was painting the white slope red and had covered himself in blood; I’m talking helmet, goggles, scarf, gloves, jacket, trousers, THE WORKS.
We got through many a tissue I can tell you, and after deliberation of what to do next (where I have to say the rest of my group were SO helpful and mature), as if by magic, a lift worker (aka SUPERMAN) skied past us and asked if he could help.
Well, I’m preeettttyyyy sure that’s what he said… his Austrian accent mixed with dialect was so STRONG, I ended up guessing every second word… thank God “Ja bitte” seemed to suffice as a reply.
The ‘ski superman’ popped the boy on his back, rather like a fallen soldier, and skied him down to the bottom, while I and the others brought everything else – honestly it was quite the spectacle. I then waited at the lift station with the little boy in the medicine room and waited for the taxi to take him and another injured child from the trip to hospital.
It was at this moment that I realised that my German vocab for such a situation really was not extensive. At all. All I wanted to do was really calm him down, but all I could think to say was “Du hast super gemacht, das Taxi kommt gleich” (you have done really well, the taxi is coming soon), so fluent Alex.
Overall, despite my worries, nothing was broken and although he couldn’t ski for the rest of the trip, he is all mended now.
I won’t lie I was pretty shaken up after it was all over… mostly because I was worried I hadn’t dealt with the situation properly, but luckily, I spoke to the real instructors about it and I don’t think there was much more I could have done… even if the same instructor did try to tell me I hadn’t handled it properly… I LOVE positivity.
BUT my blood related vocab is now 10/10!!!
In comparison to the day before, this was actually really quite a chilled day.
Everyone had to go “hoch” today (aka up the gondola, not at the bottom on the beginner slope). Easier said than done because for many this was only their third ever day on skis, so just getting from the gondola, which was down a really quite flat slope, to the beginner slope up there was a challenge – I’m pretty sure I held all of the weight of at least 4 boys as we skied down together but we managed it in the end, and seeing the look of satisfaction on their faces when we had reached the bottom was so lovely.
I then spent most of the day teaching beginners / helping in a slightly more advanced group which was actually so much fun. At lunch the ski instructor who had been criticising my skiing then offered me a “private lesson”, a bit annoyed I obviously said yes, and I’m glad I swallowed my pride and did because I EVEN GOT A COMPLIMENT FROM HIM.
Granted I had to look up what it meant when I got back, but honestly, I was such an emotional wreck I nearly cried when he gave me the compliment, oh my god maybe I’m not such a waste of space after all. In the afternoon I helped in the same group and we did the “Talabfahrt” which basically was a road made into a ski slope in the winter, which took you all the way back down into the valley.
Without being dramatic, it was almost magical. The sun was setting, it was a bit chilly, but the kids were doing so well, taking their time, and hardly any fell over!
I would go as far to say that it was almost perfect. Almost.
When we got to the bottom, we realised we had missed our bus back to the hostel. KLASSE. After also finding out there were no public busses back to our village, from direction from the actual instructor who was with us, we just hopped on any old bus and tried to make it back. It actually worked. If in doubt, hop on any old bus, and pray !
From where the bus dropped us off we then had a 30 mins walk back to the hostel. It was going dusk and the kids (and I) were all a bit knackered BUT spirits were high and we made it.
DRAMA, am I right.
After we got back from the wilderness, had dins and then a few drinks in the evening with the teachers. Honestly this was probably the most intense part of the trip, each evening the teachers would socialise, and after a whole day of skiing / kids shouting German at me / me trying to make clear ski instructions in German so we didn’t lose any (more) kids, a whole evening of high-level German was INTENSE. Having said that, one of the teachers would kindly re-explain things to me I didn’t catch / I’m now really good at laughing at all the right places of a story with 0 idea of what’s actually going on.
I did however find a wee bit of time to call my parents, where I’m pretty sure I slightly traumatised them with my stories – and we were only on day 3!! I also genuinely found it hard to switch back into English. The whole week was SO intense for my German, from 6:30am until 11pm I spoke only German, which meant I did start actually thinking in German (!!!), and that when I tried to have a conversation in English, my sentences kept coming out wrong. WAHNSINN.
THE TRANSFORMATION INTO A GERMAN HAS BEGUN.
A good day.
Think we had about 12 kids who said they were “ill” with stomach ache / head ache / foot ache / about any ache you can think of (absolute bollocks, they just didn’t want to ski in the snow… I mean who can blame them), so they were all made to do normal school lessons in the hostel. HA.
I started off the day teaching beginners on the T-bar slope (aka a slope with a drag lift… which are actually much more difficult than they look, every time I headed up, there would be kids strewn like dead bodies on either side of the lift) again, including spending most of morning with a really sweet girl who, bless her, just couldn’t turn. Like literally could not do it. I really tried my best to try and explain in German how to turn on skis, but to be honest, without sounding like a dick, even in English it’s hard to explain. It’s kind of something which just comes naturally.
I did however try my best, it was however -10°C and snowing, so after an hour of her complaining her knees were hurting, I gave in and we just skied in a straight line down the slope, practicing “pizza”, and with me shouting “3, 2, 1, HALT” for when she had to stop. After about 20 attempts she managed to come to a stop without me grabbing her arm and literally pulling her into a stop position! An achievement for both of us.
I can safely say, after an hour and a half of one-on-one teaching, she could brake. Winning. That’s another thing actually, while I was trying to teach her this, on the slope there were of course other REAL LEGITIMATE ski instructors teaching REAL SKI GROUPS with REAL QUALIFICATIONS, and I felt like some kind of imposter (think Rod Gilbert on work experience) which definitely didn’t help my confidence.
In the afternoon I skied with one of the other more advanced groups, bringing up the rear and helping when one of them fell over (turns out not falling over yourself when you are hauling a 14-year-old boy up from the floor is a real skill lol).
AND at the end of the day, one of the other teachers told me that the girl I had been teaching in the morning had started doing turns by the end of the day! I was so proud of her and made me think again, maybe I actually am helping a wee bit aha.
THE FINAL SKI DAY. I’D MADE IT!!
This day was just FABULOUS. The weather was divine, I had my own, really lovely group, AND I managed to get in some skiing with one of the other instructors in WITHOUT KIDS. It was lush.
I had my own group of 8 kids for the day, and honestly it was so nice to have my own group. We started on easier slopes and did some exercises where I quickly realised, explaining exercises that seemed SO clear in my head into German was really quite difficult. Pretty sure I accidentally mixed up the words for MOUNTAIN and VALLEY at one point (really quite crucial when you are skiing and trying to do an exercise, designed to make them out more weight on their VALLEY ski)… which ended up in them all falling over. BUT, you live and learn !
When the morning break came around, one of the other instructors, also skiing with us, asked if I wanted to do some skiing without kids, the sun was shining, and the snow was so PERFECT, of course I said yes.
IT WAS MAGIC. We skied all the way into the valley on and (sketchily) off-piste, AND I even got a compliment for my skiing, which to be honest I think has made my year because I had so convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough to be teaching skiing or even to be in charge of kids, so to be told my skiing was actually ok was DA BOMB.COM !
The journey back was nowhere near as long as the journey there – just 7 hours (!!), but I did still next to the head master, honestly we are best mates now.
Pretty sure slept for about 6 ¾ of the 7 hours because I was honestly KNACKERED after such an intense skiing and German speaking week.
When we got back to school, I said my goodbyes, including to the instructor who had criticised my skiing earlier in the week. I asked him if he thought I could become a ski instructor, expecting a really enthusiastic answer following our bonding over the week… Haha. He said “technically your skiing is (drum roll please)… ok”. THANKS MATE.
BUT his sister did give me the details of how to become qualified in Germany as a ski instructor so WATCH OUT ALPS, I’M COMING FOR YOU.
Right, I think that’s quite enough from me. I hope you have maybe had a little chuckle at my life… which is essentially why I write this blog lol.
Overall, I am so so proud of myself for surviving the week and looking back at it, I feel so glad I pushed myself to do it, and even had fun (shock)!
Tissues used for the nose catasrophy = 100+
Times I questioned my life during the trip as to why the fuck I was there = 1000+
Number of German jokes I laughed at with 0 clue what was going on = 10,000+
THANKS FOR READING.
*Plays Destiny’s Child ‘Survivor’ on repeat*