Parent stories: Paris
What’s Paris like as a city for expat parents and foreign students? Debbie talks to Winter's about her experiences as the parent of a student attending the International School of Paris.
What was your situation that led you to look for an international school?
Work commitments took us to Paris for a three-year posting. Our daughter was in high school in our home city of Ottawa, so we wanted to ensure that we chose a school which would provide her with the opportunity to study in English (her native language), and with high academic standards so that she would be well prepared for university.
How easy – or difficult – was it for you to find an international school that you were happy with?
We were fortunate as it proved to be a very easy process for us. The Canadian Embassy provided us with a list of schools in Paris, and the International School of Paris (ISP) was included in the list. They had an excellent website and were very responsive when we reached out to them for more information.
Were there any other useful sources of information to help you choose a school?
Personal contact with other expats living in Paris was also important. But yes, the main sources for us were the Canadian Embassy and the ISP website.
"...small classes were important at this crucial stage in our daughter's education..."
What were your main criteria when you were choosing a school?
We were looking for a school that was academically strong, and that taught through the medium of the English language. We also believed small classes were important at this crucial stage in our daughter’s education.
What were your main worries or concerns?
Our main concerns were moving during our daughter's high school years and taking her away from her friends and the activities she enjoyed. She had never moved before and had a very close set of friends and was very involved in competitive sports. Also we were concerned about the demands of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, and whether she could cope and still enjoy the experience, or whether it would just overwhelm her.
"...enriching extra-curricular activities..."
How did your daughter adjust to her new school?
She adjusted really well. She had to work extremely hard, but she was well supported, and found many opportunities to become involved in extra-curricular activities at the school, which were not only enriching but also helped her to settle in and make friends.
What were some of the school-organised activities and trips that your daughter was able to take part in?
The ISP provided her with a number of enriching extra-curricular activities, including Model United Nations Conferences in Dublin and Berlin where she took part in role-play activities and competitions. She also attended a school-organised event in the Cevennes in the south of France where the focus was on environmental studies. In addition, she went with the school to Namibia to work in an orphanage there, and that was an incredible experience for her.
How were the day-to-day routines of travelling to and from school, school lunches, and other things like this different from her high school experience in Canada?
In terms of her schedule and daily life, there probably wasn’t a big difference as she was able to walk to and from school in both cases (which was fantastic) and took her own lunch (or should I say frequented the local boulangeries!). The ISP didn't have a big infrastructure or cafeteria, so it was largely down to the students to provide for themselves.
"...she has an international set of friends..."
Do you think your child has benefited from her experience of international schooling?
Absolutely. She got an excellent academic education having successfully completed the IB which set her up for success at university. She was accepted at the university of her choice and she was given one year of credit for the IB. In addition to the academic side, the ISP provided a terrific cultural experience as there were 65 nationalities represented at the school during her time there and she was exposed to all of these cultures. She has an international set of friends now, who she’s kept in touch with and visited on numerous occasions.