My personal ski adventure as an instructor in Japan has been the most amazing experience of my life. My name is Mathilde Juul Hansen and I am 20 years old. Six months ago, I decided to take a gap year to pursue my dream of becoming a ski instructor.
Japan as a skiing destination
After searching the web, I found the website of Snowminds, an organization specialized in training ski instructors worldwide. I was attracted by their offer to work as a ski instructor in Japan - a destination I had never imagined as a ski destination.
It came as a surprise to me to discover that Japan is a country with incredible amounts of snow. In some seasons, more than 18 meters of snow falls, which is extraordinary. I was deeply fascinated by what they call "powder snow," known for its light, fluffy nature. In addition to the snow, I was also very inspired by the Japanese culture, known for its calm and order in all aspects - something that harmonized perfectly with my own organizational and perfectionist nature.
I also wanted to immerse myself in Japanese culture, learning about their food, religion and people. That's why I decided to apply to Snowminds about why they should choose me as a ski instructor in Japan. It didn't take long before I was approved by Snowminds and was introduced to a ski school in Japan.
When I arrived in Japan, I started with a course where I learned how to teach skiing to others and improve my own skills. After the course, I was sent to my ski school where I lived right next to the slopes. This made it incredibly easy to get to work. I shared accommodation with the other instructors, a bit like a dormitory where you share a room with 2-3 other people, and we also shared a kitchen, bathroom and common room. Living so close together created a close bond with my colleagues.
I made a lot of lifelong friends at my ski school and a lot of unforgettable good moments. The school had participants of all ages, but we all got on well with each other. It was an amazing experience where we came from different cultures, traditions and countries, but we still bonded. Now I have friends who are 10 years older than me and may be from places like Australia, Canada or Norway, but our shared interest in skiing created a strong community.
We formed a large group that lived and worked together as instructors and were all equals. After work, we would sometimes head down to the local bar and enjoy a few beers, or we would ski all day together. Either way, there was room for everyone and everyone had fun with each other. I'm so happy with all the friendships I've made and still keep in touch with a lot of them.
Everyday life as a ski instructor
My everyday life as a ski instructor in Japan was very exciting and educational. I used to get up around 08:20 and attend the morning meeting at the ski school, which was right below my accommodation. After the meeting, I would get ready for the day's lessons. I put on my ski underwear and ski clothes and went down to the boot room to get my ski boots and all my ski equipment in place.
It varied how long and how many people I taught each day. Some days were only half days with a single student, while other days involved whole families over several days. It was all very different and depended on what our customers wanted and what we as a ski school could offer. I had to deal with different situations with both children and adults, with some wanting to master the basic skills and others dreaming of conquering the steepest black runs. It required the ability to adapt to different preferences and personalities.
Some days I was faced with a five-year-old boy who struggled to ski without falling and was eager to get on the black run. Other days, there might be a 76-year-old person who was afraid to ski down the almost flat green slopes. Both could be challenging in their own way, so you had to be patient and tolerate different abilities and levels in everyone.
I have gained so much from this trip as a ski instructor in Japan. It has been a unique experience where I have learned a lot about myself and about other people. Being able to make a positive difference to so many people and seeing their joy of a great skiing vacation has been the best feeling.
I have felt like an inspiration to many people from different cultures and have gained insight into different aspects of life. I would highly recommend everyone to pursue their dreams as the feeling of success and the unforgettable experiences will stay with you for the rest of your life. I am deeply grateful for this experience and I will cherish the memories and experiences I have gathered forever. It is through our courage to try new things that we truly learn, grow and create unforgettable memories for life.
I highly recommend everyone to live their dreams.