Eagles in the Spotlight

Joelle G. '08, ISOZ

Joelle G. attended Pre-K to Grade 6 at ISOZ before moving to Shanghai, China in 2008 and graduating high school there six years later. After a time in the UK and Singapore, Joelle has found herself back home in Switzerland. Joelle shares her experience of being a globetrotter and how making her way back to her roots was the best choice she could make.


Growing up in Switzerland

During her time at ISOZ, Joelle remembers a few teachers including Ms Hill, her Grade 3 teacher, and students, but one of her clearest memories is participating in the annual Terry Fox School Run in support of cancer research. Joelle recalls, “We had to run through the forest to raise funds. I didn’t like and still don’t like running. I tried to fake an ankle injury to get out of it, but got caught while playing perfectly fine on playground. I can’t remember whether I ran that year or not, but I know I had to run other years.”

Even after moving to China, Joelle spent her summers and winter breaks in Switzerland and Germany (her countries of citizenship) which not only afforded her maintaining friendships with her fellow ISZL Eagles, but earned her Gold Member airline status by the time she was just 19!


Making her way back to Europe

After graduating high school in China, Joelle began an international student programme at Brighton University in the UK. “The IB prepared me well. I was excelling in my classes,” Joelle shares. During winter break, Joelle celebrated the holidays in Switzerland and felt very drawn to settle down somewhere and to be with her friends and family. It became a goal of hers to stop moving around. For the next three months, Joelle consulted with her parents and Brighton University’s counsellors to conclude that she’d move back to her parents’ (now living in Singapore) mid-semester to regroup. “I was really torn about the decision and felt physically sick about it. I left suddenly and without even saying goodbye to many of my friends, but I knew what I wanted to work toward and that was what mattered.”

She considered reenrolling at Brighton in the fall to study Criminology, but still wasn’t sure. Soon she found herself back in Switzerland for a family visit without even considering that this could be her new home.


Being back in Switzerland

Once Joelle decided on staying in Switzerland, she knew she had to sort out her education and visited a career advisor. “It was amazing to speak with a professional advisor about what I should/could do in Switzerland. I would highly recommend it! Together we realized that psychology (not necessarily criminology) was for me and we set out to find how I could study in Switzerland.” Joelle didn’t met the qualifications for a Swiss university, but realized attending a work-based Hochschule would be more to her liking anyway. Soon enough Joelle found herself preparing to enroll at a Hochschule in Zurich – very near to where her father grew up.


Preparing to study

To begin the enrollment process, Joelle had to work 100% (paid or unpaid) for at least one year. She worked at a day care, spent some time at ISZL and will soon be starting at IBM.

During this time she must also take a prep course for an exam to prove her knowledge. After completing that test and the one year of work, the real admission process starts! Joelle is hopeful that she will pass the knowledge test and group interview required to start classes to become psychologist. “Ultimately I’d like to support people and families dealing with dementia.” Otherwise she is considering business school.

It took Joelle some time to realize her love for psychology, that she truly is a people person and her interest in helping others, but she doesn’t see this as having lost ground. “It was nice to have had the time to do what I needed to find out what I really wanted,” she shares.

Lessons learned and advice to share

Exactly one year after leaving Brighton, Joelle happen upon a quote that perfectly summed up her experience:

Joelle adds her own advice: “If you’re in high school, enjoy life! You have it so easy right now with someone cooking, cleaning and caring for you. Enjoy the low stress levels. Don’t do what others expect you to do, just live life and don’t make yourself feel bad. If you’re at university already, don’t be afraid to change or feel bad about it because it costs money or goes against someone’s expectations.”


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