Following on from our feature on St. George’s School in Switzerland, we speak to Hazel Hogg, who lives with her husband and her daughters Morven (11), Rowan (8) and Alexa (3) in France – practically on the border with Switzerland, where they enjoy stunning views of the Alps and Lake Geneva. Her children attend the International School of Geneva. Here Hazel talks about living overseas, and tells us more about choosing this school for her children. Read more.
Could you explain how you came to be living in France, and why you chose an international school for your children?
My husband was relocated to his company’s Geneva office. When we arrived, our two oldest daughters were 11 and 8 years old and we were keen to make the transition as easy for them as possible. Since they didn’t speak French we felt that they would find the social and academic adjustment very difficult in the French system.
How did you all feel about the option?
Together with the children we visited three international schools in the area, and allowed them to have a say in which one they preferred. The children were very keen to go to this particular school and, as it was also our choice it worked out very well.
Could you tell us a little about the school?
The school is one of the International School of Geneva’s three campuses. It is in a semi-rural location 20kms outside Geneva and serves the international community in Vaud and neighbouring France. It has a primary and secondary section and offers a choice of academic programmes. The primary school has recently introduced a bi-lingual programme (English and French).
How does it differ from schools back home?
In Scotland my children attended a small village school. Apart from size there are obvious differences in terms of the facilities on offer and the diversity of the student body. We also lived in Nairobi, Kenya for a time and our daughters attended a British-curriculum Kindergarten and preparatory school there. We felt at the time that our daughters benefited from the exposure to other cultures and backgrounds that they experienced, and it helped us to make our decision about whether to opt for an international school this time.
What’s the biggest plus of sending them to an international school?
For us, the ability for them to feel that they ‘fitted in’ very quickly was vital, especially since we had moved them around a bit already.
And the biggest downside?
Not having the opportunity to integrate fully into the local community.
Do you think it will set them up for the future in terms higher education, employment, etc?
Yes, definitely. The school has an excellent academic reputation and in addition I believe that my daughters are benefiting socially. They are becoming more outgoing and confident already and I can see that standing them in very good stead in the future.
Could you give us a flavour of what it’s like to live, and perhaps to work, in your part of the world for an expat?
We live in France, practically on the border with Switzerland and with views of the Alps and Lake Geneva. It’s an amazing place to live: the physical landscape is stunning, and the climate is excellent, with a lot to do in both summer and winter. There is a large expat community in this area and there is a huge range of sporting, cultural and social activity which is accessible to it. Being only two hours from family and friends back in Scotland with direct air connections means that we have plenty of visitors and can easily nip back to Edinburgh if we want to. The only disadvantage we have found is that the cost of living is comparatively expensive.