Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Andreea Virban

Learn more about Andreea Virban, Alumna (Class of 2012)

Where are you living now?
Manchester, United Kingdom 

What did you do after you left ISL?
After leaving ISL, I studied in Aberdeen, Scotland and Berlin, Germany for my undergraduate degree, and then I moved to York, England for my master’s degree.

Whilst at university, I took a year out to work in industry for Shell UK, and after my masters I started my career in Finance Process Improvement and Organisational Change in various international companies within the construction, tobacco, legal and consulting industries. 

I also had a career as a fitness dancing instructor for 5 years, which was spurred by IB at ISL. Whilst doing the sports part of CAS, I discovered I absolutely loved dancing and what started as my mandatory 50 hours of sports, turned into an additional hobby and job during most of my post-ISL life.

What did you study at University?
Initially, I started a law degree in Scotland, but after a year I realised it was not for me. I decided to change my major and study BA (Hons) International Business Management, which was the best decision in hindsight, as I loved the course, met incredible people along the way and I get to apply a lot of what I learnt in my day to day job today. 

After obtaining my undergraduate degree, I studied for my master’s degree in MSc Development Economics and Emerging Markets at the University of York in England.

What are you doing now?
I currently work as a Process Improvement Lead within the Finance function of an International Law Firm. My role is very versatile, but my work is about changing processes and the organisational culture for the better, working alongside colleagues across teams and countries to find and implement the best solutions to any process or problem that may arise, to make everyone’s job easier and more enjoyable.

I also sit on the board of directors of the York Community Consulting, a student-led consulting group based in York, England. My role as a Non-Executive Director and Alumnae point of contact means that I get to work together with students whilst also increasing engagement in the Alumni community via networking events. This also brings me to London and hopefully back to York more often, especially after the lock-down period. 

Additionally, I am a mentor to a number of students, who either are looking for a job, or want further guidance in their professional careers. This is done via formal mentoring channels at the moment but I am currently developing a mentoring programme within the York Community Consulting organisation as well.

Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
Absolutely - my time at ISL was absolutely pivotal and has helped me become the person I am today. ISL first and foremost taught me to think outside the box, which is the most valuable skill in both my personal life and my career – challenging the status quo, questioning why things are done in a certain way and is there a better way to do it?

ISL also taught me to always give my 100% - if you love it great, and it is still not for you, it’s ok to change direction until you find something you want to fully immerse yourself in. 

The other important skill I learned during my time at ISL is working with others, and championing diversity of thought, in order to find the best and most creative ideas and solutions, as well as collaborating to make it happen. 

What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
For me studying at ISL was a unique, world-changing experience. I joined ISL in 2008 after my family and I moved from Romania. I had never met anyone from another country before, and I was thrown into the most welcoming, diverse and interesting world. It is quite strange for me to think I had never met anyone from another country before moving to Luxembourg, and now everyone in my life comes from different countries and backgrounds!

I quickly realised the privilege that studying at ISL brought, and I tried to make the most of it, from having access to fantastic teachers and world-class resources whether they were books, lab equipment, sporting opportunities, or the chance to travel on school trips and join various clubs. All these possibilities made me discover who I am, what I am good at and what I like to do.

The biggest advantage of studying at ISL is the sense of community and learning to work as a team, and above all to not be afraid to say "I don’t know" and ask for help. The warmth from the staff and support from friends and even their families, makes ISL a great place to learn from an education perspective, but also from a personal angle to develop as a young adult in a safe environment.

I would also add that another great advantage of ISL is that it taught me ownership and responsibility. From day one I was treated with respect and trusted to make my own decisions. I was expected to take responsibility for my studies and encouraged to go out of my comfort zone, with lots of support available if needed. I remember that for every idea I had, I was encouraged to pursue it, whether it ended up in a win or a lesson.

What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
This is the time to try everything and challenge yourself, develop and learn who you are, and make lifelong friends. Join the sports team, sign yourself up for the audition, be brave and speak up in class and be your number one fan. Even when it feels like you haven’t won, it’s another experience from which you can learn.

Also, do your best every day and understand no one is perfect nor great at everything. Discover and play on your strengths by choosing the classes or activities that make you happy. Personally, had it not been for ISL, I would have never known I love public speaking, nor would I have had a career in fitness and dancing!

But most importantly, everyone is cheering you on and working to help you succeed. Take advantage of the resources you have, and if you need help or guidance ask for it – it is there for the taking!

Were you involved in any clubs/activities at ISL? What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
When I joined ISL, I thought I was the most fortunate person in the world to have access to all the different clubs and societies and I did sign up to everything that spoke to me. I was part of the ISL Film Club where we started the ISL News, the Global Issues Network and the Debate Club, which also included trips to Zurich, Geneva and Prague.

I was also part of Model United Nations where my team and I competed internationally in Copenhagen, Denmark. I also had the chance to go to the United Nations in New York for a conference together with 5 other class-mates . Additionally, whenever I could, I gave a hand to my friends in other clubs/ activities, preparing for events, such as the 2012 Graduation Ball.

Being part of these organisations meant meeting lifelong friends and having fantastic opportunities. My education has helped me tremendously and taught me how to be disciplined and manage a heavy workload, but being part of these clubs and activities, taught me what I love doing and what makes me thrive, and ever since I tried to turn them into my job. I also met lots of students from other schools whilst on international trips, and 2 years ago I had the chance to be a bridesmaid for a friend whom I met during the Model United Nations in Copenhagen!

Additionally, for being an active part of the ISL and Luxembourgish community I was also awarded the Zonta Young Woman in Public Affairs Award and the ECIS award, which has been an incredible additional reward.

Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:
Although teaching and learning are incredibly important, the staff and teachers genuinely are invested in you and want you to succeed. Everyone comes together in a wonderful community that gives so much knowledge, information, respect and support. ISL also opens so many doors, whether you want to focus on your academics, extra-curriculars, giving back, making your community better, arts, sports or music. ISL goes above and beyond to support you in becoming a well-rounded, happy and thriving young adult.

How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
I attended ISL throughout high school, but I think the International Baccalaureate was very important in shaping me into the person I am today. First of all, it made me understand that although academic achievement is important, it is not everything.

Whilst academic or professional success is important, being a well-rounded individual and taking care of your health through sport, your mind through challenging assumptions and your own beliefs, and taking care of your community is just as important in leading a healthy and happy life.

What do you think is unique about ISL?
Diversity is the first thing that comes to my mind – not only do you meet and befriend people from all over the world, but it is also a diversity in ideas and perspectives, to which you also add to.

ISL also challenges you in various ways, whether it is academically or personally, to try new things, fail, start over or try something else.

If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
It would be extremely difficult to choose one! Mr. Ruef, Ms. Schweifler and Mr. Penn stand out to me, as they taught my favourite classes and have always encouraged me to achieve my best. It was always a pleasure to be in their class as well – lots to learn, but also I personally had a lot of fun, be it the odd pun reference, a great film recommendation, or finding out incredibly interesting geography facts.

I'd also like to thank Mr. Dwyer, Ms. O'Connell, Ms. Powell and Mr. Kilbride, as when I joined ISL, English was not my first language but with their support I changed to the English A1 class in less than 6 months, and I couldn't have thrived without their support. My love for literature and theatre has started in the English class at ISL, and I am forever grateful.

As I was involved in many different clubs and activities, the list of staff and teachers I would like to thank can go on, but I am very grateful to everyone who helped to shape the person I have become whilst at ISL.

Describe ISL in 5 words:

  • Alumni