I set a record that day. Never has one of the Alps’ finest ski resorts been blessed with such skill, elegance and precision. As I graced the ski slopes of Les Sept Laux for the first time, or indeed any slope, it was clear that people were going to be amazed. Having coped with putting on my boots and locating some skis I waddled towards the lift, blissfully unaware of the journey ahead of me. It was a struggle getting there never mind managing to descend the mountain. It was only when I arrived at the summit of the slope did I fully realise the task at hand. I would be skiing for the first time ever here in the Alps. I prepared myself, breathed in as much air my lungs allowed and then bravely took off down the slope. Then I fell over.
That certainly wasn’t the first time I fell. In fact, I really enjoyed falling into a heap the first time. Surely if tumbling down a mountain was always this fun then it would have been a painless, although somewhat blurry day. However, the ambition would soon be replaced by cartoon-like stars circling my head. I amassed a colossal nine falls while skiing down: all in one attempt. Every time that happened (which was rather often) I gracefully got back to my feet. Although when I say I got to my feet, this really means that I was assisted by a friend whose day was spent rescuing me from the frozen tundra and pointing me in the correct direction. You can imagine that this repeating pattern, lasting for around six hours became gruesomely tiring. I would tumble to the foot of the slope and stretch out on the ground like a snow-angel in order to reclaim some of my fallen dignity. If I could have called a time out, this would have happened but I always raised ‘myself’ from the snow.
By the time I reached the location de ski, unstrapped the boots and unzipped the jacket, my body was absolutely spent. I retreated to a nearby ledge to recover and collect myself. It gave me time not only sip on some nice coffee but also to reflect on how the day had unfolded. After having examined the bruises and bumps I concluded that my rest was well earned – though this seemed painfully obvious at the time. I was proud, not of my skiing ability, but rather of the fact I kept getting up and trying again. If I hadn’t got up the experience would have finished at 9:07am, precisely seven minutes after starting. Despite the seemingly traumatic experience, I really want to go back since after all it was at amazing time and in order to ski down the mountain more on my feet instead of my back.
The attitude that I had there in the snowy snow is the kind you need to get the most out of your exchange abroad. This is especially true if you are working/studying in a different language since you need to be comfortable falling on your arse (metaphorically speaking of course) when you say something incorrectly. For example, I went to the zoo at Parc de la Tête d’Or where I saw some ducks. I then proceeded to comment on them in French. However instead of using the correct word (canard) I used a practically similar word where the first letter ‘a’ is replaced with an ‘o’, and the second ‘a’ is replaced by an ‘n’. This word, despite appearances, has a completely different meaning which you may or may not choose to look up. Nevertheless, I never even noticed at the time and hours later having been told the catastrophic error, I just laughed it off. Although I confess I didn’t make that mistake again.