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How to Plan a Last Minute Adventure Abroad: Snowboarding in Vercors

What to do when invited to a ski weekend last minute? Practice some last minute French, scramble for ski gear, and make sure to pack your insurance card.
The university next door was holding their annual ski trip to Vercors, one of the three mountain ranges surrounding Grenoble. My roommates had met the president of the ski club the weekend before, which resulted in our invitation to a weekend full of food with about 60 French students we had never met before. As the only foreigners, the weekend consisted of attempting to understand people babbling rapid French and being referred to as the “Americans".
 The chalet we stayed at.

Despite the language barrier and showing up sans any snowboarding gear, we managed to escape the weekend with only a few bruises and some unreal stories.

Arriving in Vercors, we checked in to the chalet, which somehow held all 60 kids including a massive cafeteria and multiple areas to relax. Rushing to change into our borrowed snow gear, we were accompanied by our own personal translator - Kurt was his name - to help us pick out gear. Oh, and I forgot to mention that neither my roommate or I had been snowboarding before, so along with the language barrier we had absolutely no clue what type of board we needed or any knowledge about snowboarding in the slightest.
 The site of the dreaded relay race

Somehow we were finally set to get on the slopes and try snowboarding for the first time. Walking past the little resort town, we found the lift but were banished to the bunny slopes for the day. Needless to say, I spent my morning falling head over heels (and not in love!), attempting not to collide with any of the children who were easily ten times better.

I was given a break from my failed attempts when we were summoned for lunch, which was easily the most stereotypical American meal I have had here. Lunch consisted of french fries, hot dogs, on a baguette of course, and pasta salad. Stuffing our faces, we were back out on the mountain as fast as possible. Our meal must have contained magical ingredients because I spent the rest of the day actually snowboarding. By that I mean, I was able to make it down the mountain without falling multiple times.
 The chateau

Apparently the weekend did not include any time for rest because as soon as we stumbled back to the chalet, we were roped into teams for a relay race before dinner. Mind you, it was pitch black out at this point. We were suppose to run around some trees, sprint behind the house, and sled down a hill on a trash bag and sprint back up to win the race. Here we thought, oh maybe we'll get some rest? But no, the night continued on with a game of charades and various other group games which were impossible to understand in French.

Luckily we were saved by the bell and excused for dinner. Yet even that was a boisterous event, as little did we know there was a makeshift boy band in attendance. The group attempted to sing popular American songs all night, which easily became my greatest entertainment... if you have not heard a French guy attempt to sing Wannabe by the Spice Girls, you are missing out on some serious laughs.
Zamzam Abdulgani is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in the French Alps. She is currently a junior at Washington State University. 

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