I still remember that first night. Alone, in that sketchy employee housing apartment. As I laid down to sleep, a shadow caught my eye. A mouse darted under the door, stared at me from the toe of my boot, and then disappeared into the darkness. I was terrified.
The next day, I attended new hire orientation, where I struggled to make friends. It was a lot for me, I’d gone fourteen months without any sort of social life. But, as I wrote here, after about ten days, I’d settled in. My first day of work was November 13th, and my last was February 12th, almost exactly three months of snowboard instructing.
During this time, I made a few friends, but not a ton. I progressed at snowboarding, but not much. I chilled a lot. And, I thought a lot about my upcoming move to Korea. Keystone Colorado wasn’t a total mystery to me, as I’d visited several times the season before, but these three months as a snowboard instructor opened my eyes to an entirely different style of life. For the first time ever, I shared a room with someone. For the first time as an adult, I lived without a car. And while certainly difficult at times, I learned about the human abilities to adapt.
As for the job, I learned that being a good instructor had very little to do with my ability on the board. To my surprise, snowboard instructing was more about creating an encouraging environment for the students, and really helping them to enjoy their time. In fact, in a survey from the 2017 season, shared to us by one of our managers, 9/10 students answered that their main priority when taking a lesson was not to progress, but to have fun. So, with that in mind, I took a hands-off approach with instructing. I was always there for those with questions, but for the most part, I’d spend my days chatting, and enjoying the Colorado sunlight. The only problem was, by the time my 9:30-3:45 shift ended, there was no time left for me to ride. Ironically, instructing is one of the worst jobs you can have, if your priority is to ride.
No, I didn’t stay a full season, but during this time, I learned a lot about the lifestyle and the job, and most importantly, I became aware of seasonal opportunities. And while my plans to Teach in Korea where set to occupy the next year, this lifestyle was something that stayed with me as an option in the back of my mind.
It was from my desk in the teacher office, two months removed from the mountains, that I wrote “half a world away”. After consistently letting my excitement for international adventure consume my present in Keystone, I quickly found myself in a state of ironical nostalgia, longing to return to that mellow life in the mountains.