Meet Nico Lhoest
Learn more about Nico Lhoest, Alumni (Class of 2015, attended ISL for 16 years)
Where are you living now?
What did you do after you left ISL?
After graduating from ISL, I studied in the UK to earn an undergraduate degree in Games Technology from Bournemouth University. During my third year of study, I was fortunate to complete my placement year at Snap Swap, which is a start-up company in Luxembourg. After graduating, I received an offer from Snap Swap, who recently relocated to the House of Startups to continue working as a digital designer.
What did you study at University?
At Bournemouth University, I studied Game Technology which focuses on the design aspect of creating contemporary video games. Since Bournemouth University is a member of The Independent Games Developers’ Association (TIGA), the course covered interface design, games analytics, scripting for game creation, plus 3D modelling. In addition, I developed a better understanding of the history and psychology of video games. One of the most interesting aspects was gaining a better understanding of the history, “gamer” mindset and psychology of video games. Business management was also an essential feature of the course.
What are you doing now?
Working at Snap Swap has been invaluable because it allowed me to experience first hand how a start up functions in today’s business landscape. Being a member of a startup company, also allowed me to apply the skills I learned from games technology to an authentic setting. As of January 2021, I begin my masters degree in computer science at University of Glasgow. After my experience at Snap Snap, I realized I wanted to pursue my interest and passion for computer technology.
Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
Absolutely, yes! I had the opportunity to be exposed to and participate in a range of events, activities and projects. Being at ISL for 16 years, the environment and especially the teachers elevated passions I never knew existed in me. There was never a lack of choice in clubs, sports or projects and the curriculum. Not too many students would choose higher-level Physics and Theatre as their IB subjects. That was me! Because of this exposure, I was fortunate to have experiences that pushed me into areas I never expected. For example, yearbook design, theatre and debate provided a platform for me to showcase my creativity and have fun as well. These experiences developed skills that later were invaluable when pursuing a degree in games technology. The video game industry requires an innovative, flexible and inquisitive mindset that ISL promoted and cultivated in me. And actually these were the attributes the start-up company sought when hiring .
What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
Two come to my mind. First ISL was family. For 15 years I studied in the same building. Some may think that is crazy but for me it was a second home. Also since my mother, Ms. “S” taught at ISL, it really was a second home!! Everything I needed and wanted was within that one building. This promoted amazing relationships with my classmates and even today we are very close. Secondly as I already mentioned, the endless opportunities to get involved in multiple clubs, sports and projects. When I started University, this really became clear to me. Although I enjoyed my years at University, there is such a change in perspective which I expected since it is the “next chapter”. However, I miss the sense of comradery and connection that existed at ISL.
What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
Join everything! Join any sport that you have an interest in, join any club that even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, join anything that the school offers. Even if it’s for only one day. There is never such a thing as a bad experience. You need to do this, not because it's good for your grades, CAS application or your social life. It is to better understand what you like, what excites you and what you are passionate about. So try that basketball club, even if you can’t jump very high. Join that theatre club even if you’re shy. Join that debate team even if you can’t formulate ideas in a clear fashion. You are at a school that offers endless possibilities to ignite your passion … do not hesitate to take advantage of everything ISL has to offer.
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?
I was fortunate enough to take part in several clubs and activities at ISL. My favorite one was the yearbook team with Mrs.Lorton. I learned programmes such as Adobe that were used in the start up company and when meeting with advertising agencies. When I mentioned that I used the programme in high school, people were impressed. Next, Theatre with Mr. West was a highlight. Truth be told, I was once a quiet boy and uncomfortable speaking publicly. Due to the support of Mr. West and the rest of the cast, I opened up more and developed greater confidence and ability to speak publicly. Now, I can present anywhere, from university lectures to design meetings, I feel comfortable sharing my ideas. I have to admit, Theatre was not the only class that promoted public speaking. From English presentations to Social Social projects, ISL teachers taught the skill to be an effective communicator. Overall it made me a more lively person, which people took an interest in.
What do you think is unique about ISL?
You might have heard this a lot of times already, but it's the international environment ISL provides. The amount of different cultures that surround your class is astonishing. There were more cultures in one of my ISL classrooms than in my entire University. Students with international experience have a common mindset and I found this one of the greatest benefits of attending ISL. Hearing different perspectives from my classmates enabled me to see the world differently and from their viewpoint. In addition, the support and guidance I received in high school to support my future educational and career choices was invaluable. Students at ISL have the opportunities and are provided the tools to go anywhere and do anything they choose, as long as they are willing to put in the work.
Describe ISL in 5 words:
Connection, Provider, Happy, Family, Fast