When picturing a long break from school, I generally look forward to sleeping late, spending time with family, and watching entire seasons of TV shows on Netflix. However, winter break is always different for my sister and me. There is no lazing around on the couch for us; instead, we are out on the Swiss Alps skiing from early in the morning until mid-afternoon. When we arrive to the Netherlands, we continue staying active by biking around town and spending afternoons ice skating. Honestly, with all the eating we do during the two Christmas days in the Netherlands (three large meals) and New Year’s Eve, it’s a relief that I can rely on our long skiing days to burn off the extra calories. Additionally, although I try to keep active during the semesters at Rutgers, with exams and work, it takes a lot of courage for me to drop everything and go to the gym. Thus, winter break is the perfect time to work out through a variety of different winter sports. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to return to school feeling fit and ready to start a new semester.
Every winter break, my family and I go home to Switzerland and spend New Year’s up in the mountains. Generally, we like to go to Crans Montana, which not only has great ski slopes, but also has a very lively family-oriented village atmosphere. Generally, Crans is covered in snow during late December; however, this year we weren’t as lucky with the snow conditions. Although we got to practice skiing in all kinds of conditions (ice, grass, rocks), most skiers will agree that nothing can match the joy of skiing down a slope of fresh snow on a sunny day. Nonetheless, my father refused to let us give up on the poor snow conditions and so, every morning at 10 a.m., we found ourselves skiing down the slopes. Since I was always used to seeing the mountains covered in snow, I found that it was a pretty funny sight to see the hills of grass all around us.
Although we both took a few painful falls while skiing down the rocky slopes, we did learn how to ski down different conditions. The only annoying part, however, was that on the day of our departure, the long-awaited snow fall finally did arrive. Yet if you have skied before, you will know that during heavy snowfalls with little visibility, it is not much fun to ski down the slopes. Thus, we unfortunately did not get to benefit from the fresh snow. In any case, I still considered our ski trip a success since we got to ski down the slopes the entire week.
Upon arriving back in the Netherlands, we had to adopt to the very flat topography of the country and skate instead. In fact, up in the North of the Netherlands, it has been so cold that the streets have frozen and become new ice skating rinks for the Dutch. In the Youtube video bellow, you can see how the Dutch have taken advantage of the freezing temperatures up North.
Although we did not get to skate on the streets of Rotterdam, my sister did bring me to the indoor skating rink of the city. The skating rink we went to was constructed in the form of a 400-meter track covered by temporary roof that was placed to cover the ice. Thus, after more than an hour of skating around the track, my sister and I both felt our legs aching from exhaustion. In the Netherlands, ice skating is an integral part of Dutch culture during the winter season. During the winter months, every town in the Netherlands generally opens up a small outdoors skating rink wth the option for people to rent skates for the day.
To finish up our skating outing, my sister and I went to grab the typical warme chocomel met slagroom (hot chocolate with whipped cream) from the little food stands near the skating rink.
When I woke up this morning and felt my leg muscles aching, I knew that the hour we spent skating had paid off. Going to the gym is not the only way to get a good workout during the day. Winter break is the perfect time to go out and find new ways to both have fun and keep active. Although my sister and I have still been binging on episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Downton Abbey, and The Bachelor, we still have managed to incorporate some sports into our break. School is starting is less than a week, so go out and take advantage of the time off and try out some new forms of activities! If you have not gone skiing or skating before, maybe this could be the chance to try it out and see if it you like it. In any case, I guarantee you that the leg workout will make it worth the effort 🙂