The ESN Ski Weekend began Friday evening. Meeting 25 plus students in Bern’s Rail City was easy enough (we all stood out like sore thumbs), but getting everyone to the correct train carriage became quite the challenge. It evenutally worked out; and we were off. When we arrived in Fiescher, those of us who hadn’t seen ‘proper’ snow before, were just a little excited. The quaint houses with 2 foot of snow on their roof tops, backing onto the alps, was too much for me. To have the opportunity to ski in the Swiss Alps is wonderful in itself, but for it to be the first time skiing -ever- was mind blowing!
After settling into the hostel (I happily claimed the top bunk, with window views of the mountains), the Erasmus team encouraged us in some icebreaker games that were fun and allowed the group to bond. It was fantastic hearing unfamiliar accents state their name, faculty of study and country of origin. China, Moldova, Belarus, America, Lithuania and Australia were just some of the representatives.
Day 1: Beginnings
I have never skiied before, mainly due to the fact that Australia has very limited opportunities to ski- and to be frank, not worth the cost of transportation and entrance for such little snow. I stuck to the beginners group for a while, where we learned to slow ourselves down and eventually stop. It was so tiring! I saw myself as frightfully unskilled and potentially never able to ski properly, so aimed rather low- hoping I might be able to hold myself upright by the end of the weekend. I was passed on to Antti for a lesson on a proper run (still very small and short, but a big deal for me). I found it quite daunting, but easier with a ski instructor guiding the way. My turns were terrible and rickety but I was doing it! His guidance didn’t prevent me from falling over though, which I successfully did many times. I took those opportunities to soak up the atmosphere, and incredible view (you can see the Matterhorn from Fiescheralp if you know where to look). Exhausted after only a few hours, I returned back to the hostel- happy, but a little worse for wear.
Day 2: Bruises
The next morning our bodies ached; which made it very difficult to move from our cosy beds. The evening before had been a fun one; playing cards, chatting and bolting to a tiny pub/club without jackets. The wooden nook held more people than thought possible, singing, drinking and dancing to daggy pop tunes. We were punished with tiredness for socialising till the wee hours of the morning, many were slow to get out to the field. I lazily continued to read Dorian Gray and work on a poetry analysis for class (by lazily, I mean I really should have been skiing, a lost opportunity leaves you feeling guilty). When I finally layered up and put my boots on, motivation returned to conguer the little beginners slope (which I did for the first time without falling over). The day was cooler than the previous one, it snowed quite heavily which meant the alps were not to be seen. After a couple of goes, one of the more competetent snowboarding erasmus students took myself and another newbie to our first ski route. We arrive via the ski lift, that took far longer than expected to the blue section. I was quite nervous, but keen to do something substantial, I threw myself (literally) into it. It look longer than an hour to complete, with many twists and turns of concern and falls, it was complete. We had done it, thoroughly pleased, returned for a hearty lunch. The rest of the afternoon was quite relaxed; me basking in my ski experience so far and brushing up my skills on the baby slope was about the most I got through.
The journey back to Bern was thoroughly entertaining. Students from a myriad of countries were interacting with each other and reminiscing about the trip that happened not all that long ago. While we waited for the train at Fiescher our organisers handed out bread, cheese and chocolate (a Swiss dinner on the go, that was much appreciated), which sufficiently satisfied all. Sleepy, but pleased the group made it home, quite satisfied with what we achieved.