Graduating from university at 21-years-old, I decided that the real world could wait for a bit longer. Not one bit of me was interested in spending hours applying to graduate schemes or scouring job sites for an elusive career prospect that sparked a slight interest. I craved freedom. I craved something more exciting than the norm. I craved unlimited adventure time. So, following a dreamy once-in-a-lifetime stint as a travel reporter immediately following my departure from the British education system, it felt only natural to continue my year of roaming with another 6-months working in the French Alps.
Skiing in France for the whole of the winter ski season was a dream come true – on the surface. There was a LOT of adventure time afforded me 6 days out of 7. The tasks were pretty easy, the people were awesome and the setting was incredible. But, man, despite all of the juicy perks, working a ski season is hard. The hours are kind of sucky (I ended up working 50 – 70 hour weeks) and the pay is abysmal (for those monstrous hours, I was compensated 50 pounds a week…). Employers generally treat season staff as completely dispensable and, as such, each day can turn into a nightmarish guessing game of whether or not that room you cleaned last week that wasn’t quite up to scratch is going to send you falling headfirst into the Alpine unemployment scene.
I did actually fall off that precarious little ledge and into the season bum category for a while when I was abruptly fired almost halfway through my contract as a chalet chef. First off, to get this straight, I was expecting to be a chalet maid. Cleaning rooms, serving dinner… you know. Basic maid duties. Instead, me, a 21-year-old vegetarian with questionable cooking skills, was politely forced to change my role. I spent three months working with a crazy, Irish head chef, serving 60 demanding people three-course meals twice a day.. Honestly, it’s a wonder I lasted as long as I did.
After my firing (wah!), it took a week or two before I managed to find a new job in a hotel in Tignes Le Lac, just up the mountain from my first home in Tignes Les Breviere. I rode out the rest of my season on a bit of a bummer, not quite gelling properly with my new colleagues, and constantly craving trips down the mountain back to my old friends. Despite some lonely moments, nothing failed to get me back on track more than catching the first lift up the mountain. Plugging my headphones into my helmet, the blinding sun just playing beneath the jagged peaks of the glorious Alps, I would fly down my favourite slopes on untouched snow, completely on my own, at every given opportunity. Those moments made up for all the not-so-great realities of working a ski season and, without a doubt, I’d happily endure a week of cleaning bedrooms at 2am for new guests, exhausted nights working in the restaurant, and a bit of bummed-out-loneliness, for just one of those solo-ski mornings.