Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Elena

Learn more about Elena Perticucci, Alumna (Class of 2018)

What did you do after you left ISL?
I went to study at the University of Oxford in the UK. 

What did you study at University?
Biomedical Sciences. I often get asked what this is and I like to describe it as the research-side of medicine. You learn about all aspects of human physiology, from the immune system to the brain, and you spend a lot of time in the lab! I enjoyed it, but I quickly learned that the world of scientific research wasn’t for me. 

What are you doing now?
I took some time off after graduating from university, and am currently working as a ski teacher in Kitzbühel, Austria. Next month I’ll be moving to Amsterdam to start working for the consulting firm, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). 

Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
Absolutely. There are a couple of things ISL taught me which I think helped me get to where I am right now: 

1. You are free to choose and change your path in any way you wish. Sometimes you’ll encounter one-way door decisions in life, but most of the time, you always have the chance to change your mind, go back, and start something new. The emphasis that ISL put on intellectual exploration and being open-minded about the future taught me this early on. Without this mindset, I would never have switched from science to the world of business.

2. How to work with others. ISL puts a lot of emphasis on group work and collaboration, and this in turn has meant that working well with people has become very important to me. The career move I made was exactly because of this - I want to work with lots of interesting people, all the time!

3. Don’t take everything too seriously. While working hard, grades, etc. can be important, being able to take a step back from it, enjoy the process and have a laugh is just as important. I’ve found that every time I remember this, I enjoy whatever I am doing a lot more. 

What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
ISL allows its students to truly build their confidence; I think this is a gift that unfortunately not everyone gets when they are at school. The smaller class sizes, the extra help and support provided by teachers, and the individual attention that you feel as a student means that ISL feels like a safe place to learn and try things out. For me, that meant having the confidence to ask questions and ask for help, to set ambitious goals, to always try, and to not be afraid to do things unconventionally. ISL also gave me the sense of opportunity; that if there’s something you want to achieve, you should go out and try it. At ISL, I was really given the feeling that nothing was holding me back. And most importantly, ISL gifted me with incredible people who are my friends for life, and who are the reason why Luxembourg is still my favourite travel destination. 

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?
Yes! I absolutely loved the clubs at ISL. I was part of the volleyball and basketball teams every year since I joined the school, and the memories I have from them are some of my most favourite. I gained friends from different grades, I got to interact with schools from across northern Europe at NECIS tournaments, and I learned so much about teamwork. I also loved doing Mérite Jeunesse (Duke of Edinburgh Award), which I did up to the Gold Award. I would encourage everyone to do it; team work, perseverance, patience and resilience are all things I learnt and took away from it. During lunchtimes, I also took part in the Amnesty International club, which was a fabulous way to discuss topics that really mattered and get creative with event organisation.

What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
1. Make the most of the individual attention that the teachers are willing to give you. Ask questions, see them for help after class, be honest with them. For me, it was some of the most personalised help and attention I have gotten in my (short) life. 

2. Take part in as much as you can. So much of what I learnt at ISL came from outside of the classroom and it completely transformed my school experience. 

3. Don’t worry too much about IB! It will all work out in the end. 

Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:
Individual and personalised help for students so that everyone feels cared for. Providing a sense of community for so many of us third-culture kids. Offering a breadth of opportunity outside of the classroom. 

How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
ISL provided the foundations upon which I could grow, and I will be forever grateful for that. It gave me the sense of home; its unique multicultural community is where I know I belong. It gave me the support and encouragement to be brave enough to go out and do anything I desire. And perhaps most importantly, ISL has kept me grounded; it taught me good values and introduced me to wonderful people who share those values. 

What do you think is unique about ISL?
The fine balance it strikes between not being a “pushy” environment and allowing its students to be independent and make their own choices , while providing all the resources and guidance needed to do your absolute best as a student. ISL brings the best out of every student without forcing them to be a certain way. 

If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
There are so many that I would like to name… so many people had such a big impact on me at school. He’s no longer there, but I continue to be very grateful to Mr. McMahon, my IGSCE English teacher. He shared a lot of wisdom, brought a lot of humour into the class room, and taught me the very important lesson of not putting too much pressure on myself. Big thanks also go to Mr. Cookson and Mrs. Byrne, who provided a lot of moral support and help when applying to university. To Mrs. Morty and Mrs. Charnaud, whose enthusiasm for teaching was infectious. To Mr. Foyster, for just being absolutely brilliant at what he does. To my basketball coach who works in the HR department, Coach Carroll, for all the kind words of encouragement and for being such an inspiring person to interact with. The list goes on, there are too many wonderful people to mention!

Describe ISL in 5 words:
1. Supportive 
2. Open-minded
3. Fun 
4. Challenging 
5. Home


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