• Gemma Fottles

Surviving being fired abroad: A ski season nightmare

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

So you’ve packed up your life, bid farewell to friends, family and everyone in between and taken that big jump into taking a job abroad. Whether this be teaching English half way across the world, working in a hotel on some paradisaical beach setting, or – like I was – working in a kitchen in the middle of an Alpine ski resort, after all the planning, preperation, anticipation, you never really expect to find yourself losing your job just two months into starting your new life...

Lesson one: shit happens on a ski season

That's exactly the lesson I had to learn recently on my current ski season in France. What happened to me recently is this: I got fired from my job in a chalet kitchen. Last week, just over 2 months into starting the job. When I got fired abroad, I was taken aback. Truly. Had I done something wrong? It all seemed to be going pretty well apart from some fiery kitchen arguments with the rowdy Irish chef who ran our cosy chalet like a terrifying kind of purgatory... But on the whole, everything seemed to be going well. The guests loved me, my cakes were delicious and I was friend's with everybody in the company... what could have gone so wrong?


The Sache - Tignes


So what happened?

My boss pulled me aside after I'd finished making that days afternoon tea - millionaires shortbread, carrot cake and chocolate brownies. Nom - honestly, I was really getting good at this cake baking business. Glowing with the triumph of my latest bake, I had no idea what was coming. The owner of the chalet company looked at me. He said: "I know this will come as a surprise to you... but we're letting you go."


What!?! I fully expected to be working with the same company for the entire ski season, and my overnight dismissal from my ski came as a bit of a blow. One minute I’m baking cakes for the weeks impending guests, and the next my ski pass, skis and detestable chef clothes (even the crocs!), have been taken off me and I have one night to find a new place to stay. Seriously. What?!


The reasoning was even more confusing. Apparently it had come down to me or the chef - on account of our kitchen arguments. I couldn't believe it. They weren't THAT bad! It was two people griping on each other... the chef had complained to the BOSS?! What a dick. And even more of a dick was this whole situation - where was the due process? God dammit! I had heard of ski season firings like this, stories of chalet girls and boys being randomly sent home over questionable circumstances. I had even seen a handful from this very chalet boss. But, man. I didn't think it would happen to me. I was doing a good job! I am literally such a goody-girl when it comes to work!


What's next after being fired abroad?

Cheffies

It’s a difficult situation, but one that – like anything in life – needs to be dealt with in the most positive way possible, and with a decent dose of perspective. I admit, I was shocked at being fired. It felt very unjustified - it still feels very unjustified. It was very sudden and very... wrong. But - perspective. Okay, so it’s very inconvenient that I had to leave my accommodation and the room with my crazy roommate that I have loved spending time with so dearly all within 24 hours of dismissal, but is it the end of the world? Well, no. Due to some incredibly sound friends around the resort, I managed to bag a spare bed in an apartment up the road for a few days, giving me enough time to figure out what I was going to do.


Anybody in this situation has two options: wallow in self pity and accept that it’s home time, or start looking for a new job.

I knew as soon as I had been fired from ski job that I was not ready to return to the UK and that I did not want this to be the end of my time in the French Alps. I want to ski for the next two months and finish the season like I intended. I wanted to perfect skiing, and to breathe in the mountain air every day that I could. I spent an hour or so wallowing in the shower after the firing. And then I decided to get my shit together.


Right now, I'm sleeping in a spare bunk bed in a neighbouring seassonaire's accommdation. Three days into the job hunt and there’s a couple of things in the pipe line, but nothing solid as yet. I feel like I’m on a coffee tour of the area, spending my time trekking around different resorts with a fistful of CVs in tow and bumming around in coffee shops with wifi, furiously sending emails to anybody I can find. But again, is this the end of the world? No. At least, I'm trying not to think of it that way. I have flashes of panic - my parents have already made it quite clear that I'm on my own with this one. But I like coffee quite a lot. I also like walking around the places in Tignes that, until now, I’ve only seen from the chair lifts. Although I’ll enjoy having the security of a job a whole lot more, it’s nothing to cry about. Yet.


I have to admit, I'm bummed out by the firing. I know that it's not the end of the world and that I will find another ski job just because I am so determined to stay here... but it's a bit lonely living in a ski resort without purpose. It has been three days, but already I'm lonely and missing my chalet family. But everything will turn out for the best in the end. It will, it will, it will.


Val D'Isere

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