It can be difficult to put into words what the job as a ski instructor is and what a season really entails. The things you experience, the lessons you learn along the way and the fun you have; those are things to look back at with a big smile. Laerke has put these experience as a ski instructor in Austria into words, as a letter to herself and we could not describe the feeling of doing a season any better!
“You are now sitting on the floor, surrounded by piles of clothes and an empty suitcase. You wonder: ‘What do I take when I can bring 4 months worth of clothes in one suitcase? Should I bring a party outfit? Should I bring swimwear? Sportswear? And what about Christmas Eve?!’ All these thoughts run around in your head. ‘Who am I going to sit next to in the bus tomorrow? Who will I share the hotelroom with? With who will I go to my destination?’
You have a million questions and it is as if every question brings about 10 new ones. And then we haven’t even talked about teaching or work at all. Or housing. Or the ski school boss. Or your ski skills. Or German abilities.
Right now, Laerke, you sit and are quite desperate and feel that end of the season as a ski instructor in Austria is still thousands of years away. But just wait. It will be over before you know it and you’ll be back home in Denmark, trying to understand what all the fuss was about.
In the next 4 months, you will learn more than you’ve learned in 3 years of highschool. You will learn a lot about skiing of course, but also a lot about yourself, about cultures, about people, communication, managers, finances, laundry and so much more.”
Living the life
“There are going to be days when everything is going well and you feel you have found your place. But there are also days when everything goes wrong and you just want to go home. You come to meet people you love. And people you can’t deal with – and you’ll learn how to live close to both.
When you become a ski instructor in Austria you will experience an environment where everything is dependent on one another. It doesn’t matter if you do a fantastic job, if the lift is not running or the kids do not have skis on or the lunch comes an hour late, then you’ll have to improvise and make the most of it. So remember, above all, to be kind to everyone. On the mountain, no one is better than others.”
Days off on the mountain
“The essence of being a ski instructor is to stand in Kinderland on powder days, while dreaming of going down the mountain at full speed. It is the burnt chicken nuggets and the frozen pizzas. It is lukewarm beer in aprés ski. It is to stand on a piste with 10+ children behind you, where two are crying and at least four need your help to get up.
But it is also the proud look on the faces of the parents when their kids do well on the race Thursdays afternoon. It is the amazing feeling of praise from the boss when you just managed to get the group together before he saw you. It is the same song playing on kinderland while preparing magic carpet and setting up the tracks. It is the proud feeling when your group finally ski’s down the mountain in a perfect snake down. It’s admiring glances of tourists when you’re on your way up the gondola in a ski uniform or arrive at the aprés ski.
Dear Laerke, I hope you are ready. Ready to challenge yourself, not just in skiing, but personally. Ready to take all challenges and turn all situations into something positive. I hope you are ready to take responsibility. Not just for yourself and the quality of your work, but for real, living people. You will never be responsible for something as valuable as other people’s children, and it is not a responsibility you should take lightly “.
“On the contrary, you also have to be ready to have fun. And ready to spread the fun. A good ski instructor is a happy teacher and even though you may not be, you should be able to pretend. You must be able to stand in the heavy snowfall and convince the parents that you have never seen better circumstances and that it is by no means dangerous to go skiing, even though you can hardly see the rear child.
Besides being a good teacher (this can be in many ways) you must also be ready to be open minded. You must be ready to open your closed Danish head and look out into the world – maybe you can even learn something from the Dutch roots, the Austrian strictness and the Germans’ exaggerated courtesy. As colleagues you hang on to each other – so try and not make it difficult for yourself. Respect and try to understand those you live and work with, even if they are different. They will certainly do the same to you “.
Big smile all season
“Laerke – in brief – in 4 months you’ll be in Denmark and wondering where the time went as a ski instructor in Austria. You will look out the window and think: there is something totally wrong with the view … is it not a little too flat? You will be deeply surprised that you have actually really really missed eating salads and that you instinctively calculate in euros instead of Danish kroner when you are out shopping. You will have difficulty deciding on a summer job as they all seem hopelessly boring. So remember to enjoy your time in Austria! Snowminds definitely did not lie when they claimed it would be the best way to spend your winter!”