Beautiful Morning in Wagrain, Austria

It’s a really beautiful morning here in Wagrain, Austria, hotel and staff are great, area is beautiful, and its a lovely place.

Problem is, I am not really able to enjoy it.  I have no idea what is going on, no structure or routine, and feel as if I’m kind of chucked in at the deep end still.  Parents and group leader went off to Salzburg for the day yesterday, and we were left with the 13 or so kids.

Parents told the skiiers they could go up to the highest point and ski, on their own, no instructor, not especially experienced, and no back up plan.  I was uncomfortable with this, especially since I was not informed.  So up they went, followed by a phone call to my colleague an hour later to say that they wanted us to order them a taxi to the top of the mountain because they were tired and bored of skiing! So eventually they came back.  In the meantime they had a snowball fight and one of the younger boys lost his glasses, not ski glasses, but prescription ones! So we spent the next hour looking everywhere for them, because we knew his mum would be really angry, and he was upset because he knew he would be in trouble. No joy.

After lunch I wanted to take them outside to play, since none of them could decide what they wanted to do.  They wanted to go to town but town was closed.  So they decided to go outside and play some games in the snow.  The first five minutes were OK, then the snowball fights and general fights started, and they left the safe and designated area and decided to play on the ski run.  So I told them them why they shouldn’t play there and told them that if they didn’t play in the designated area then they would have to go back indoors.  Told them ten times, and then they started swearing and arguing with my colleague.  Plus I got a snowball right in my eye, two skiers narrowly missed them, and enough was enough, so I marched them back indoors.  They were stroppy teenagers, I felt that they were being unreasonable and so we spent the next hour indoors.  They called parents to come and get them, told parents they were locked in their rooms, and all sorts of bullshit.  I asked them why I had told them to come indoors, and they explained that if a skier came they would just move out of the way.  I just don’t get it, 16 year olds playing in the middle of the ski run with skiers coming really fast at them. Are these kids really so stupid and spoilt??? I’ve never had this issue with any other Georgian kids I have worked with, just the rich ones here, whose parents seem to allow them to do anything they want. But I was sticking to my guns, no way was I prepared to answer to a skier who had broken their leg because my kids were too selfish and ignorant to move out of their way on the ski slope. Kids complaining that they would rather be skiing in Georgia because they are allowed to do whatever they want there, and here everyone keeps giving them rules.  Guests and hotel staff complain at them, and I complain at them, but the Georgians don’t and just turn a blind eye.  It is incredibly frustrating. At the evening meal we tried to organise a taxi back for the guys from Salzburg, make sure dinners were saved for them for when they got back, and tried to make sure the kids behaved ok in the restaurant, especially after they were so rude with us.  ‘Your not our parents, so who are you to tell us what to do, we are old enough to do whatever we want’. The younger kids have been fine, but the tenth graders have been pretty awful.  So we split them again, made them tidy their rooms and then later on, the younger guys (all boys, up to 7th grade) went and had a sauna whilst we waited outside in case they had any problems as it was their first time in a sauna, and the hotel has a good one (parents have used it every evening). One of the parents was angry that her son was in the sauna, because it was dangerous and his veins might explode or maybe he would get a cold.  Yet the same parents let their kids ski alone, in high places, and with little experience!

So, whilst I am tolerating everyone, and trying to make the most of things, I’m also struggling and not particularly enjoying being here, in this beautiful place. I’m feeling pretty dumped on and with this forced responsibility, which is not what I signed up for, and if the parents and group leader go to Vienna for a few days, it is going to be pretty shit being responsible for the 13 kids. One of the boys even calls his grandma every day and tells her that he broke his leg and is in hospital, because he thinks it is funny!

What’s more, I have so much stuff to do, deadlines to meet, and am still waiting on decisions from school, but it seems like I am surrounded by jokers, who take nothing seriously, and just look for any opportunity to slack of and have a justified holiday. I’m seeing school people in a very different way, and it is becoming very frustrating that they seem to shirk all responsibility.  Four of the kids here are on Oceans Project, but two of them were kicked off because they don’t come regularly and mess around, I can see why now, and there is no way they deserve to have a sponsored place to take part in a serious scientific research expedition. I guess the thing that really gets me, is that Georgian kids are in general not like the ones here.  These are the richest and most spoilt kids, the ones who have every opportunity, but don’t make use of it.  There are so many kids I know, especially on project, who would desperately love an opportunity like this one, but will never have the chance of that.  The kids on the project are amazing and would give anything for a chance to travel or see another country, yet these kids here just don’t get it, and it saddens me that they have been ruined in this way.  Some of them can’t even use a knife and fork, can’t dress themselves and need help with basic things, because parents do everything for them, and they have no responsibility or consequences.  Even British teenagers would not behave in the same way.  Leaving ipads lying around the hotel, or skis in the front door on the floor.  They would know that it could get stolen for a start!

I’m really uncomfortable right now, as I don’t like being left in charge of these guys.  I have no leader role, and the kids have no respect for anyone, so I really want nothing to do with them right now, as I know it will be on my head if something happens.  Just as it was our fault that the child here lost his glasses yesterday.  We have no idea what they are allowed to do or not to do, no authority, and no respect.  Not the greatest combination!

Being here is also making me miss the girl I want to adopt too.  I can’t believe how much I miss her, and how much I want her to have opportunities like this.  She has had such a different life so far, caring for everyone and worrying everyday.  She is worrying about where her next meal will come from and what will happen to her, a far cry from the guys here.  I never missed anyone so much in my life, so it seems pretty crazy! I’m worried about her everyday, and I feel like a parent already, which is quite bizarre.

I have no no idea what the plans are today, and I feel like I am turning more inward as I don’t want to be involved with the lack of planning here and responsibility and hazards. Its making me look forward to our Earthwatch expeditions and my future, and I’m desperately waiting on info from school so that I can finish off my funding applications and start planning my geography lessons.  I’m kind of trapped in the hotel, I want to go off and do things, and also to get on with my own work, but instead I am just waiting around and becoming frustrated.  Not my best trip I have to say! And I am counting down until some normality resumes.


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
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