My experiences: Paris
Jacqueline attended the International School of Paris (ISP) during her final years of schooling. Here she discusses her daily life at the school and the extra-curricular activities she took part in.
Jacqueline, at what age did you go to the ISP and where had you been at school previously?
Before moving to Paris with my parents, I had been at high school in Ottawa. I attended the ISP between the ages of 15 and 18 and studied for the International Baccalaureate. After completing my studies at the ISP, I went on to university in Canada.
Can you describe for us the daily routines at your school in Paris, for example: school hours, lunches, travel to and from school, and so on?
Our school day ran from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm (with an hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks). We didn’t have a canteen because the school was so small, so instead we would usually go out for lunch to the surrounding cafes, and pick up baguettes and either eat them in the street or in the ‘lunch room’ (common room) at the school. This is pretty unusual; most of my international school friends had proper lunch services at their schools (I suppose it depends on the size of the school).
My travel time was a 25-minute bike ride (velib), or I’d walk. In Canada I would have had a 45-minute bus ride, a very bad lunch canteen with the usual unhealthy things, and no school trips to speak of.
What sort of school trips were organised by the ISP?
This was a big feature of the school. International schools go to a real effort to incorporate travel into the lessons/syllabuses. Three obvious reasons for this are: (1) it’s a great way to do hands-on learning, (2) for kids who are new to the school, it’s a great way for them to bond with their year-group, and (3) for kids who are new to a country, it gives them a chance to explore the new place/region where they now live.
At ISP, every year had a ‘designated trip’ for a week at the beginning of the year to serve these purposes. While I was there, Grade 9 students went to St. Tropez, Grade 10 went to the Cévennes and Normandy, and Grade 11 went to Wales. On each trip there would be an effort to relate things we did back to the syllabus. In Wales, we collected many samples to link back to our course-work in Biology, Geography, Chemistry, and Environmental Studies, and in Normandy we related what we learnt there to our World War I studies in History.
I also went on a community and service trip to Namibia, that was organised by teachers from our school and by the mother of one of the students from Namibia, who put ISP in touch with various volunteer opportunities across the country. (My co-worker in Namibia, who was at the International school in Mexico City, said that her school took the students to Washington DC on a history and politics trip, and did various smaller-scale trips around Mexico).
"...I went to Model UN conferences in Paris, Dublin and Berlin..."
What other extra-curricular activities did the school organise?
Model UN events are a big thing across international schools, presumably because the make-up of the schools fosters an awareness of and interest in global affairs – not to mention the fact that many classmates’ parents are directly involved in international affairs themselves. I participated in my school’s Model UN club and went to conferences in Paris, Dublin and Berlin.
Our school also made an effort to link up our little international school microcosm to Paris, and in this vein I was involved with starting the ISP chapter of “Eco Ecole”. This was a Paris-wide effort to make schools in the city more environmentally friendly.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with Winter’s Jacqueline. It sounds like it was a truly international education!