When I was 14-years old, two new teachers presented the opportunity to bring a group of secondary school students to Verbier, Switzerland for a weeklong ski/snowboard excursion. The chance to go to Europe and visit one of the largest ski areas in the Swiss Alps was too hard to resist, so I gathered the courage to ask my parents for permission to go on this budget-busting trip. After several groveling sessions and promises to skip future birthday and Christmas ‘needs’ (wants) I was finally allowed and the papers were signed.
About 15 of us from my international school, with ages ranging from 13-18 years old, were signed-up to go to Switzerland. My international school in Brunei was small, with only about 300 students from grades 6-12, so this trip to go outward bound to such a different environment created quite the buzz around campus. Our flight route would take us from Brunei to Dubai, Dubai to the UK, and the UK to Switzerland. Upon arrival we went on a 3-4 hour drive up to Verbier with a bus full of teenagers who hadn’t showered in the past 2 days. There was a certain excitement and buzz of wonder that captured us as we drove through Switzerland. It seems as though there is an atmosphere that encompasses Europe, or it could just be that the weather was a definite adjustment from the tropical weather that all of us had just come from.
The lodge we stayed in was reminiscent of countless brochures and movies that featured ski resorts. The interior was cozy and fireplaces burned everywhere to keep us warm. There were schools from India, Mexico, and Tunisia lodging there as well. We were put into ski/snowboard groups from our own schools and into rooms. The first step upon arrival was to get suited up in our respective gears and place them in our designated spots. The next day we would all start learning to ski or snowboard.
All of us started on the bunny hill. I was touched to see all these little kids bundled up in poofy jackets zooming past me with such confidence while I was still trying to catch my balance on skis. The day was filled with endless falling and pushing ourselves back up, but thankfully a lot less than the snowboarders.
After my friend Jean and I got the hang of skiing and the bunny hill was no longer a challenge we would spend most of our time relaxing in the café.
I’d just like to emphasize that although food was quite expensive there, it was delicious. Seven years later I can still recall how fresh the ingredients were. The meats and the cheese were exquisite. I am a huge foodie and I note that the true highlight from my trip to Switzerland was gorging on chocolates. The bars, cakes, truffles, and any beverage that was infused with this liquid gold were divine.
The week continued on more enjoyable runs and delectable food. Communication in Verbier was primarily in French, with Italian and German translation. Walking around town after a long day of skiing was a delight to my foodie heart. There were little cafés and bakeries that offered fresh pastries and tarts. Near the lifts there were street food carts where I indulged on a hot kebab in the chilly weather.
The trip closed with a celebratory dinner of fondue with crunchy French bread and a club booked-out specifically for all the students to come together for the last time. To this day I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made from that trip and can’t wait to go back to Europe.