Slip Sliding Away!
By James Williams
SLOVAKIA -- So pretty much most of my month of March was skiing! I spent about 12 days of the month skiing on the slope and by the end of the 3 weeks I was really tired but it was a great time! I did a few other fun things as well that I will get into! This month I will do chronologically!
On the first and second of March I went to school as usual but I didn’t realize that these days would be two of the four days I would go to school this month. Now DON’T WORRY! I was with my school skiing for 2 weeks. Therefore I could technically count that as being in school :P But back to the order. From those first two days We had a school break for one week. I decided that I would like to go skiing during that winter break and because I have been having a fun time and learning how to do it.
I went skiing on a Sunday at a local ski slope that I can get to by bus! But I met a nice woman who speaks English who is a neighbor who was going the same day as me. She was bringing her young son to teach him how to ski, their son is bilingual English/Slovak but he had a British/Slovak accent that was really difficult for me to understand, That was really surprising for me, not being able to understand my first language. But it’s not the first time, the second xD. But during that day I accidentally broke my skis that I had rented for the season. The second it happened I knew it was bad because skis aren’t supposed to make a big CRACK sound. But they didn’t completely snap just the metal on one side for about 6 inches kind of like a noodle when you throw it in the air. So I skied on it and put it on a spot so that skiing would still be possible. Anyways I made it home just fine and I now have to bring the skis to the place where I rented them. Also the shop owner doesn’t speak English, just so you all know. I bring the skis he looks at them and says $150 EUROS! I think to myself can I phone a friend? We talk a bit more, the shop owner explains that the skis are top notch and all this stuff blah but the skis are 10 years old, totally used, and next year would be their last year. So I end up calling my host dad and I leave saying that I will be back to pay because they only accept cash. All in all I ended up paying 80 euros after talking to a few people and getting a better idea of what the price should be, but I paid about two weeks later because I was away with my family and with my school.
With my family I went to Tatranska Lomnica and there was great skiing. We spent 2 days skiing and the 3rd we went to a beautiful spot nearby. The first day of skiing was alright but very foggy, so I spent that time on the lower part trying to perfect my 180! I talked with a few people and they all complimented my Slovak. The 2nd was amazing. During the fog it had snowed and nobody had gone into the free ride zone. So we had about a foot of fresh powder skiing and I was incredibly excited to finally get to do some powder skiing. We also had completely clear skies pretty much all day. There was still strong winds and the highest lift stops if it is too strong. But after It started I was actually on the first chair to make it up! Once I got to the top I just took a bunch of time to appreciate the view and take pictures. I didn’t know how long the lift would be open so I wanted to take in every moment. I am very glad I did the view was beautiful and with the clear weather I could see so much of Slovakia and the mountains. I of course will have some of my pictures below. I really think it’s the best skiing/snowboarding I have done. I really am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given and the luck I have had when I go and do these things. I don’t know where it comes from but it seems to really be never ending. But back to Tatranska Lomnica, the skiing was amazing and the views were unbelievable. During this time I was with one of the students in my town, Kris from Taiwan. It was nice to talk to him and not be alone the whole time. Then on the 3rd day we went to Štrbské Pleso and wandered around there for a few hours this was the third time I was there and we didn’t have the perfect weather we had the day before so it was beautiful but not a perfect day, still awesome to see.
After returning home on a Saturday I turned around to leave on Sunday for a week of skiing with my school! This week was alright I was with two exchange students from my town Sofia (Mexico) and Isadora (Brazil). They were so fun to ski with because they aren’t the best and I was able to help them a lot with my experience on snow and in general winter sports. I spent a lot of my time with them this week and learned a good bit about them and myself spending a week with all the same people. The skiing itself was alright there were clouds every day and it actually rained 3 of the 5 days we skied :c But on the last day I as I was leaving I saw a guy that I met during the Rotary Ski Week who is one of the most well know free ride skiiers in Slovakia. I started talking to him and he said that the next week’s weather would me much better and sunny and they would get snow through the weekend.
So right then and there I decided I would go for the 2nd week in a row. So I came home for the weekend got my clothes washed and Sunday went back to Jasna for the last time to ski this year. And on the first day we had clear weather and that held the whole week. I was so happy that I went with my gut and decided to go and push through. The weather was incredible and I am so thankful for the opportunity to go. During this week I was with Kris,YES the same one! There I was speaking a lot more Slovak because I needed to. It really made me proud of myself and realize that I could get by 100% on only using Slovak if I needed to. I am not 100% in the language and I make many mistakes while speaking but everyone usually understands what I mean. I am proud of myself for learning this language. So at the end of the week on Friday instead of going home I got permission to spend the weekend with an exchange student friend, Daniel (Columbia), in Poprad a city known for being the head city near the High Tatras. Now I had initially gone to Poprad to ski but I changed the plan to stay in Poprad and spend time with the students there and look around the city. So that’s just what I did. We went around the city and hung out and had an awesome time for the weekend. The students there are awesome, I think that whenever I am with exchange students it’s just awesome. But so much that’s all for March! I am forever thankful for all the opportunites I have had through this program and I every change I have I will try to explain and encourage people to go on and do an Exchange. I have heard it described as “Not one year in your life, but a life in one year” and I can’t agree more.
James Williams, a 2017 graduate of Geneva High School, is spending a gap year with a family in Slovakia. His year is sponsored by the Geneva Rotary Club and is part of a Rotary International program.