STAFF: The Better Life in Practice – Heather (USA)


When I left Tennessee four months ago, I had no idea the adventure and excitement that was ahead of me.  After to coming to Switzerland three years ago, I already knew Our Chalet was a magical place, but I did not know how much that magic would change my life.

As I lugged my fifty pound suitcase up the Chalet hill, I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into.  You might not know this, but the best way to meet the people you will be spending the next three months with is when they are climbing around a table in the dining hall. At least, that is how I met my fellow summer volunteers.

Living with 11 other girls was an experience in itself. I would like to think I formed some lasting friendships, as well as the best band ever, Naomi and the Heathers (look for our semi-original single coming out soon). This week, I have been thinking back to summer, and I try to tell stories, but I can never get through them without laughing.

I have never laughed so much in my entire 20 years than I did with my fellow summer volunteers. Not to get sentimental and mushy, but to call it the “best summer ever” would be selling it short by miles.

Heather, Heather and Naomi

Being at Our Chalet has taught me that anything is possible. With a steady pace and a helping hand, your wildest dreams can come true. I realize I sound like a giant cheese ball, and I am okay with it. I jumped off a bridge twice this summer (Ropes were involved, don’t worry Mom). If that is not crazy, I do not know what is. I also feel like I have grown as a person since being at the Chalet. I am taking a semester off college, and switching schools, which might be as scary as travelling in Europe alone. I am not sure where my life will take me, but it will definitely be an adventure.

Heather - Aebsailing

Interacting with young Guides and Scouts was another highlight of my summer.  My mother told me that I would be a role model to the girls this summer, and to be honest, I did not believe her.  Each week, we had hilarious groups, which were great for me because I like to think I am funny.  I bonded with a few of the groups, and while I may not have been a “role model” I hope that I impacted them as much as they have impacted me.

Staying for the autumn season was an easy decision. Why go home when you can spend an extra six weeks in Switzerland? So far, it has been much more relaxed than summer, and after getting over my depression from the last of the summer volunteer leaving me, I was ready for new adventures and friendships. I have already hiked to the top of two more mountains, experienced Klettersteiging for the first time, and mastered Edelweiss on the guitar.

Of the many things I have learned during my time in Switzerland, there are two life lessons that will stick with me forever. The first is that the best memories come from the small, unexpected moments; whether it is talking about your life plans over lemon cake outside Café Blaitt, having a rock-skipping contest at Elsigsee, or being bombarded in a 12 against 1 snowball fight on the top of Silleren. And the second life lesson is that if cows can hike up Bunderspitz or any other Swiss alp, then so can I.

Thanks for the memories, and I am sure I will be back in the not so distant future.

Heather (USA)

 Our Chalet Assistant, Summer and Autumn 2012

Heather - Sunrise Hike Heather and Staff Klettersteiging