10 Reasons why you should choose to do a season
From a young age, I always assumed that I would end up going to University. Through school, it never occurred to me that I could do anything else – I was going to finish my A-levels, do a degree and get a job. Easy as that. But, as I neared the end of my secondary school studies, I started to feel like I was being funnelled into something that I wasn’t ready for.
At the tender age of eighteen, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Then, to add insult to injury, the government kindly informed us that the university fees were to be increased from £3000 to £9000 a year – which really got me thinking.
Despite being told that it was unlikely that I’d have to pay it all back, I couldn’t come to terms with paying so much money for something I had doubts about. I needed time to think – which is where my gap year came in.
After a whole heap of applications, as well as mixed responses from family, friends and teachers, I was finally offered a seasonaire job. Thus, come December I was on a plane to the snowy French Alps to work as a chalet girl.
It’s safe to say that those five months were the most influential and enjoyable time of my life so far. I’d had a taste of a lifestyle so completely different from what I’d imagined for myself – and I loved it. So much so, I did another, and another, and another…
Three years later, I’m on season number six and still loving it. Each one has been different, diverse and a huge learning curve. To anyone who’s considering it, I would highly recommend it!
Here are my top ten reasons why you should do a season – no matter what age or background!
One thing that anyone will notice the first time they step into a ski resort is that there’s an awful lot of ego flying around. Lots of people can ski fast, but can they ski well? Skiing, with time, can look graceful, effortless and impressive. Many only get to ski once a year so time and practice are a luxury they just can’t afford.
When you work a full winter in the mountains, time is exactly what you do have. Arriving in early December and leaving late April means that you will ski every condition there is – fresh corduroy, slush, ice, crud, moguls, white outs and lots of powder! Whether it’s in the park, off or on the piste, you will have the space to set yourself goals and the time to achieve them! By the end of the season you will be stronger, faster and much better than when you arrived.
When you work a season, you’ll have the opportunity to meet tons of people. Some of your chalet guests will feel like long lost friends and you’ll miss them for the rest of the season (or until the next guests arrive). You’ll receive thank you letters and postcards that make you smile whenever you’re having a tough day.
There’s always that one person who will make it an uphill struggle for you, but make sure to kill them with kindness because the more they find things to complain about, the more chance you have to fix their holiday and make it their best yet! You will at least become an even more patient and well-rounded person.
Lift passes are expensive, rent is even more expensive and the quality of food is very dependent on who’s cooking. Luckily, if you get the right company, all of these things will be sorted for you. You won’t be paid a fortune, but so many seasonaires forget to factor in how much they would’ve had to pay out of their own pocket for their housing, food and pass. Living in a ski resort is an expensive business, but if you play your cards right (and don’t spend all your money on beer), it’s even quite possible to save money.
I’ve made some of my best friends through working seasons. We’ve stood on mountain tops, laughed, cried, done a lot of cleaning and overall, shared amazing life experiences. Seasons are intense and friendships are formed fast. They burn brightly and are not to be taken lightly. Almost every end of season feels like a relationship break up, you have to say goodbye to these people you’ve lived, played and worked hard with for five months solid. It’s not easy but it’s a sign of how great it was and you wouldn’t change it for the world.
Not only will you form a close relationship with your team but often, the locals will become good friends too. There’s no better way to learn a language than to live in its native country. Learning your way around their traditions, food and celebrations can be very rewarding and will create a bond with that place long after you’ve stopped working there.
It is crazy how many people wish they’d done it! As a chalet host, I am forever being told by the guests how lucky I am. But I honestly believe it’s not down to luck, as the opportunities available to work abroad for our generation are better than ever. What’s more, improvements in long distance communication (thank you internet!), transport and the general attitude towards working a season means that it’s also easier than ever.
Working in a chalet doesn’t mean you have just one job and you need to be prepared for that. Often you will live in with the guests and that can mean that finding down time is tough (but trust me you get good at that quickly). It’s important to realise that being a helping hand and a team player is key to a great season. Staying an extra ten minutes to help your colleague finish their work means that everyone gets out on the hill together.
The job title you’re employed under vs what it actually entails are often very different things. For example my first season I worked as front of house in a chalet hotel. This involved: Getting the bread, serving breakfast, helping with food prep, cleaning communal spaces, slope transfers, helping with ski hire, afternoon tea, taking guests to the doctors, serving dinner, serving in the bar, changeover days, cleaning rooms, cleaning toilets, cleaning vehicles, driving guests to restaurants, booking restaurants, sorting lift passes, taking snowshoe walks, going sledging. You will build yourself a huge skillset that could be useful in a wide range of work.
Not only will you be busy in work but you’ll run yourself ragged in your time off (if you’re doing it right!) Believe it or not, there will be days where you won’t want to ski, and in the summers you can’t, so you will find yourself trying lots of things you never thought you would – or maybe even could – do! Seasons have led me to try rock climbing, ice climbing, Via Ferrata, wild swimming, caving, canoeing, surfing, mountain biking, paragliding, horse riding and kayaking.
You will always be outside – you’ll live in the mountains after all! Even the view from your bedroom window will be enough to confirm that you’ve made the right choice. Most seasons, I’ve been able to ski roughly five days a week and in the summers it’s the same with hiking or climbing. Staying active and fit is a massive part of it all – no desk jobs, no commutes. Just live, work and play in the moment.
You can travel with seasons! With job opportunities all over the world, a seasonaire can travel far and wide with their work. France, Italy, Spain, America, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and so many more. It’s an inexpensive way to see the world within the framework of your job – and you get paid to do it!
Every season I learn something new about myself – I get to talk to people from all walks of life and hear about their jobs, families, successes and regrets. I always find that this helps me get a bit of perspective on my own life. I then head out into the mountains with the aim of pushing myself to my limits. Whether it’s expanding my boundaries in terms of skillset, fitness or even conquering old fears.
Make those five months the best of your life so far – no regrets and nothing lost. You can always get an office job, but if we really do get just one chance at life then live it to the full!
Don’t live to work, work to live!