With 300 days of sunshine, bright blue skies and air that is just easier to breathe from 5,280 feet high, newcomers are welcome and encouraged to take advantage of all that Colorado has to offer. Living in Denver during the snowy months is a favorite part for many visitors because the mountains are conveniently nearby, giving our students the chance to pick up more than a new language during their stay. Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder or spectator, Colorado has a mountain for everyone — even if you’ve never seen a real snowflake before. We’ve talked to our experts (previous BridgeEnglish Denver students, like Goro) to give you the best advice on how prepare you for some of the best ski resorts in the world.
Anticipate the altitude
You know that feeling you get in an airplane when your ears “pop”? At higher elevations, the air is less dense and your ears are trying to adjust to the difference in pressure – this is a small example of what happens to your body during an altitude change. There are multiple side effects of living a mile above sea level, but not all travelers feel the change in altitude until they head up to the mountains. While on a small scale you may experience a little dizziness or a headache, getting full blown altitude sickness is no joke! Do some research on the different levels of altitude sickness, and read these tips on high altitude before you venture into the Rocky Mountains: drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen (you’re closer to the sun), and monitor your alcohol intake to enjoy the slopes without getting sick.
Get your gear ahead of time
Our previous students recommend bringing your own gear from home if you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder. However, if this is your very first attempt at winter sports you’ll need to rent or borrow some gear during your trip. Any experienced Coloradan will tell you to “dress in layers” because, in a single day Colorado can have rain, sun and snow. If you’re staying with a host family, they probably have a closet full of snowy weather staples like puffy coats, gloves, hats and snow pants to lend you. A major benefit for snow-rookies is that there are ski and snowboard shops galore, where you can rent all the gear and equipment your heart desires! It’s easy to find shops in Denver that have plethoras of boards, skis, poles, boots, goggles and helmets at affordable prices (look for used gear!). If you forget anything your resort should have what you need, but it can be pretty expensive.
Know your lingo
For starters, you’ll have to get on a big contraption called a “ski lift” that will bring you from the bottom of the run to the top, and those are an interesting experience in themselves. Keep your learning ongoing outside the classroom, and incorporate some ski vocabulary into your discussions. It’s important to understand even the most basic slope terms because it can make a huge difference in your day. Study your trail signs so you know what hill is appropriate for your skill level – black diamonds are not for beginners!
Now that we’ve prepared you for the mountains, all you’ve got to do is get here. Have you signed up for an English program in Colorado? It’s time for you to take advantage of the fresh powder. And don’t forget your camera! Your friends and family at home might need proof of you catching big air in your new home away from home.