Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Dinara

Learn more about Dinara Mambetshaeva, Alumna (Class of 2021)

Where are you living now and what are you doing?
Right now, I live in Paris and am studying at “Université de Paris 6” . (UP)

What are you studying at University?

Do you feel that ISL adequately prepared you for this next step in your life? 
I believe that my time in ISL has helped shaped me into the independent and hard-working person that I am, which set me up for success in my future. After graduating during the pandemic and constantly being in an unpredictable situation I was able to quickly adapt to change and persevere to do my best despite any outside challenges. In addition, moving to Paris, a city with a fully opposite dynamic than that of Luxembourg, was a smooth transition as ISL has already exposed me to different cultures.

However, I would like to see ISL preparing students earlier for university applications in the future. In my experience of applying to medicine, there were many nuances for each country that had to be followed to apply. It was very time consuming and slightly stressful researching all of them while also juggling IB work, even with the help of HE counsellors. I think it would be beneficial if ISL provided and made more accessible information regarding the higher education structure in most popular chosen countries. That information being about entrance exams, preparation courses for those exams, universities with non-English speaking courses. In my experience, I had to figure out my own way with regards to entrance exams and in my opinion ISL did not support me enough in this.

In addition, applications to courses like medicine require internships, which are often hard to find and organize by yourself. In any case, internships are a great opportunity for students to try themselves in a field they are interested in. Hence, I think it would be beneficial to all students if ISL could partner up or network with universities, businesses, hospitals, etc in order to allow ISL students to obtain work experience easier.

What has been the most challenging thing to overcome since leaving ISL and transitioning to your new environment during a global pandemic?
Over the two years of the IB diploma program I thought I found the best ways for me to study, however going to university has proven the complete opposite. The teaching methods differ greatly in higher education institutions and it is completely normal to face the fact that studying methods used in high school are no longer as effective.

In addition, I had to adapt to learning and absorbing all the information in French. However, after coming to ISL without speaking any English at all, I knew what to expect and how to navigate myself on this situation.

To my advantage I can attend all my classes in person, even though the pandemic is still a prominent challenge.

What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
ISL gave me the opportunity to do the IB program, which immediately put me at a better place when I came to UP. Even though currently I am not a fluent French speaker, I have no problem with the workload, as throughout IB I have learnt methods to juggle a lot of assignments at the same time. Additionally, the content from IB Chemistry and Biology courses resembles 85% of my current first year courses. Hence, taking off some pressure and stress.

What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
Find a life-work balance. Your time at ISL (especially Grades 11 and 12) should not only consist of working non-stop on assignments and preparing for exams. The memories you can make with your high school friends will be with you your whole life and make some of the best stories to tell about in the future! However, your education is also very important, as it can open many doors for you in the future! Which is why taking part in clubs and activities at ISL is a great way to reach that life-work balance!

In the last two years you should also try your best to expose yourself as much as possible to the work field you are interested in. It is essential that you get as much work experience as possible to understand if the field you are interested in is the one in which you want to build your career. Take the initiative to reach out to universities, firms or even friends and family and ask them if you can shadow someone or even better work for a week. Worst case scenario – you understand that this field is not as interesting for you as you thought, saving you time and unnecessary stress. 

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?
Throughout my years at ISL I was involved in multiple clubs and activities. After deciding to go into the medical field, being part of the Medical Society was very helpful, insightful and most of all interesting. We discussed current news and problems in the field, had guest speakers come and talk to us about their career, debated on ethics of medical practice, and most importantly mentally prepared ourselves for the university entrance exams and interviews. I was also part of the symphonic orchestra for 7 years, where I played the flute, tennis NECIS team, and Cooperation Nord-Sud.

The experience I gained by participating in each one of these clubs is invaluable to me. With their help I honed my communication, perseverance, and organization skills, all of which have made transition from ISL to university much easier.

Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:
By being at ISL you get so used to being immersed in various cultures with different perspectives and mindsets. Hence, moving to a different city (or country) to study really puts you in a confident position, as you can easily find common ground with new people you meet.

How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
One of the things ISL does is mix its classes every year. The new class creates a new community, allowing students to hone their communication skills and ability to find common ground with others. The new environment also creates a source of beneficial competition, motivating students to do their best. In addition, ISL encourages its students to participate in clubs and outside the classroom activities, allowing the students to maintain a well rounded profile.

What do you think is unique about ISL?
The amazing staff and teachers who will go above and beyond for their students!

If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
Throughout my years at ISL I have met so many amazing teachers and staff members who have helped me achieve my goals and got me to where I am today. Just to name a few, I would like to thank Mr. May, Ms. Cain, Ms. Adams, Ms. Babic, Ms. Charnaud, and my higher education counsellors Mr. Hiest and Ms. Le Ber.

Mr. May – thank you for supporting me in my first year at ISL and being there for me to help me make my first steps to becoming a fluent English speaker.

Ms. Cain – thank you for always pushing me to do my best and making every class such a fun experience.

Ms. Adams – thank you for enhancing my love for English literature and teaching me the art of understanding the author’s implicit meanings

Ms. Babic – thank you for believing in me when I doubted myself; making sure I didn’t faint in the lab because I didn’t eat while working on my IA; for not letting me throw my IA titrations set up out the window after my 50th trial failed to give me the wanted result and for the fabulous songs to wake us up in the morning for some organic chemistry.

Ms. Charnaud – thank you for inspiring me to pursue a career in medicine and guiding me on the journey to developing the foundation for it.

Mr. Hiest and Ms. Le Ber – thank you for always being ready to answer my thousands of questions about applications when I decided to explore a new country option out of the blue and supporting me throughout the whole process.

Describe ISL in 5 words:
International, Exciting, Open, Motivating, Inspiring


  • Alumni