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Welcome to the first issue of ISIS Magazine.


e are proud to bring you this exciting new publication packed with articles from top education professionals, doctors and other local experts, to help you make the most of the international education system in Switzerland.

ISIS International Schools In Switzerland Magazine

In our first issue, we are marking the beginning of the new academic year, helping students get off to a great start. This edition includes everything from advice on applying to university to top tips for homework success and the ins and outs of A Levels. Our recommendations for enjoying the Leman Region in the cold will keep kids entertained as the winter weather closes in. We hope to help you enjoy everything the area and its schools have to offer with our excellent lifestyle features and much more! At ISIS, we are always pleased to hear from you. Our magazine is written and enjoyed by professionals, parents and students at every level of the international schools system. If you would like to advertise with us, write for us or have ideas on more great features you’d like to see in our next edition, please get in touch with the contact details below. We hope you enjoy the first issue of ISIS and look forward to hearing from you. Best of luck to everyone this year!

Nick Gilbert Editor & Publishing Director, ISIS Magazine Tel: +41 (0) 22 575 29 95 Email:

























he clash of oars in the boat race, wood panelled rooms in musty colleges, bicycling to lectures across leafy commons and through narrow lamp-lit streets... ‘Oxbridge’ conjures an abundance of these mysterious images, but why the term and what does it mean? This bizarre compound is used in higher education terms to denote the two oldest and most prestigious universities in the U.K, and indeed the rest of the world. Last year Oxford was ranked second in the world table, with Cambridge nipping its heels at third. Yet the two institutions are also grouped together in this way because of the teaching methods its students receive, as well as to reflect the collegiate infrastructure of the universities which underpins where and how its students socialise, eat and study (not always in that order). Students at Oxbridge receive an uncommonly high amount of contact time with their tutors, many of whom are world experts in their chosen fields. Hence, the application and admissions process is a lengthy and complex affair. Tutors will cherry-pick a small

handful of undergraduates (on average eight or nine per subject, per year) whose academic horizons they themselves are committed to expanding. It’s because of this that the primary, though perhaps most elusive, attributes of successful interviewees is appearing likeable and teachable: this is a crucial factor in building a rapport with your potential tutor. But that’s still a long way down the application process, down a much scarier corridor. To begin with however, it’s essential for applicants to appreciate the implications of this teaching style. These styles are known as ‘tutorials’ at Oxford and ‘supervisions’ at Cambridge. The fact that a large proportion of your student life will be spent presenting weekly essays or mathematical problems in front of an adult academic is a learning style that will not suit everybody. It ultimately becomes a question of academic rigour, rather than tweed-clad Dons. Can you shoulder a towering work load under the guidance of tutors who will push you to widen your learning to the extreme? Do you have the drive and personal organisation to pursue your individual academic interests in a high-pressured, dynamic environment? Oxbridge graduates can not only demand higher salaries but also network their way seamlessly across a job market which entangles many. Providing you’re game, the returns are great. So which to choose? Oxford or Cambridge? And is there

much difference between the two? The answer (though the author of this article confesses to be perhaps more ‘inclined’ to one over the other) is very little. In the old days, Cambridge was better reputed for its scientific prowess, offering juicy inter-faculty degrees such as ‘Natural Sciences’ as well as steady streams of Nobel mathematicians. Meanwhile Oxford’s globally renowned manuscript collection housed in the teaming Bodleian library led to a more artsdriven reputation. But those were, truly, the old days, and in perfecting your Oxbridge application the less you dwell on those, the better. Today both institutions excel in arts, sciences, and languages in almost equal measure. The courses may differ in scope and methodology however, so it’s essential to research the course structures in their minutiae to help inform your decision. Do not assume that each university will offer your chosen subject; it’s only at Cambridge that you can study Architecture, for example and joint-subject Honours (such as History and Politics) are only available at Oxford. It’s also important to consider the kind of city you’d like to study in. Oxford itself is much larger, and so offers its students a more diverse metropolitan experience than in Cambridge, where the university dominates the town in a more delightfully immersive way.

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merican tourists knocking on the doors of colleges and asking this question were usually met with Undergraduate disdain and a few weary sniggers. “But this is Oxford University, there is no such central building. Each separate college comprises the University as a whole.” The organisational infrastructure of Oxbridge dictates that your application should be sent to a specific college, as opposed to the university in general. Open applications are accepted, but it generally displays better practice to have researched this in preparation of your application. It takes some time to decipher which college will offer your subject, as well as its characteristics and culture. Oxbridge prospectuses will try to persuade you that there’s little difference between colleges, but this simply isn’t true. Some will be reputed for sport, others for its Marxist leanings or fierce academic record. It’s vital to visit as many colleges as possible in order to sense their atmosphere. I chanced upon my own college having attended an open day at an antiquated and sporty college nearby. Troubled by the air of misogyny and laddishness I could perceive in the current


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students there, I wandered across the road and through another oak doorway. The green lawns of the quad were lined with brilliant flowerbeds; one student roamed around absurdly banging a drum, another shrieked in conversation with her friend, warm organ music filled the courtyard from the chapel. It felt like somewhere I could happily spend the next three years of my life. It’s also wise to select your college strategically. Oxbridge prospectuses will give a helpful indication of the ratios of successful applications per subject for each college, so study this carefully. The larger and well-regarded colleges will attract more applications, sometimes eight or nine students per place, while others offer more feasible numbers. A recent graduate from St John’s College, Cambridge also advises some further cunning: “your college website will list the tutors who will be receiving your application and potentially facing you at interview. Google them. Analyse their academic specialities in detail, research their recent

publications and keep their interests in mind while you craft your submissions.” This is not to say that you should repeat their viewpoint or sycophantically reference them in your material, but simply to be aware of their focus and harness your common sense. Don’t write a personal statement denying Shakespeare authorship if your prospective tutor is a pre-eminent scholar of the Bard, for example, since you risk receiving a hard grilling at interview or worse, an outright rejection. In days of yore, an application to Oxbridge rested on your statement of purpose via the UCAS system and interview alone, but now supplementary work is required. Cambridge now demands a second personal statement, while both institutions also request coursework essays and participation in a written test. Providing your school grades meet the specified requirements and the test was not a disaster, you will be summoned for interview in the December of the prior academic year for which you are applying. A History


answers are unlikely to enlighten them. It’s much more about the approach you take to answering their questions.” As deflating as this was for a plucky applicant to hear it was sound advice. Ask questions, think aloud to demonstrate your thought processes, and phrase statements personally rather than launching into sweeping generalisations about a topic. Fellow at Oxford recently revealed how carefully they treat the components of each application: “This year’s intake was some of the poorest performers in the written test, yet they excelled at interview. We seek to reward academic potential, enthusiasm and simple love of subject over spoon-fed cumulative knowledge. In short, it’s not about how many books you’ve read, but how dedicated you are to expanding your own horizons in your chosen field.” Unlike the American system, which rewards a ‘rounded’ student, Oxbridge does not take any extra-curricular activity into account. You are selected solely on the basis of your past academic endeavours and the passion for your subject. So feel free to liberate your inner geek. Ensure your personal statement outlines the wider reading or research you have conducted above and beyond your schoolwork. Try to show an awareness of the theoretical issues which underpin your subject field, and ensure you are prepared to analyse these when invited for interview. All European

applicants are expected to travel to Oxford or Cambridge for interviews and must, unfortunately, cover their own travel costs. There are scores of horror stories which circulate regarding Oxbridge interviews. Did you hear about the student who encountered a tutor sitting with his legs astride a table, holding a piece of paper, and purring “surprise me?” Or what about the Biology Don who asked his student how much water was in a cow? The interview is likely to be stretching and eccentric, but not so wildly unpredictable. Candidates should prepare to talk about the topics you’ve referenced on your personal statement, so keep your mind flexible and you won’t be flummoxed. The most valuable piece of advice I received before my interview was delivered coolly by my sister, herself a Cambridge undergraduate at that time. “Nothing you say will ever truly impress your interviewers,” she warned, “these are the smartest brains in the world, your definitive

If your passion for your subject is deep-rooted and genuine then let it show. “I call it the sparkling eyes effect”, explains one tutor. “We can tell when a student really wants a place here, it’s written all over their face.” Though traditional institutions, Oxbridge are forward-looking in their approach to selecting candidates. Your background, race, nationality or gender will not figure in the decision process, but swoony-eyed students with a thirst for knowledge will be rewarded. Your letter will arrive around Christmas time, or thereabouts, hopefully inviting you to ‘go up’ the following October. ‘Go up’ is Oxbridge slang for enrolling and a fitting phrase. The years that follow are unimaginably expansive, both intellectually and socially. Even upon leaving, your prospects are so bright, Oxbridge graduates can have the confidence that life will continue to go up... and up, and up.

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here will your children attend university? Depending upon the age of your children, you might not have given this question much thought, though you most likely have some default expectations. Perhaps you assume they will attend the same university you or your spouse did, or that they will stay in Switzerland. Maybe you are not certain where your family will be living when your child reaches university age, or where your child will want to start a career. As the parent of a child in an international school in Switzerland, questions about university can be much more difficult for you to answer than for most parents around the world, and many decisions

will necessarily be postponed until close to the time your child is ready to apply. But in the meantime, it is important to have a basic understanding of: • The many options available in countries where local international school students most typically apply • How the university admissions systems work in those countries. • How the type of secondary school qualification a student attains impacts the application process. • How to keep options open when there are a lot of uncertainties in your family’s future. Rest assured that great choices await your children. While many international school students

opt to go to university in another country, others purse great higher educational options close to home in Switzerland. The Swiss system of higher education has many attractions for students and families who plan to stay in Switzerland long-term, and a significant percentage of local international school students do study towards a bachelor degree in Switzerland. Naturally, not all Swiss options are open to all students. With a focus on the Lac Leman region, this article provides an overview of the higher educational options in Switzerland and discusses major criteria determining which ones are open to your child. Some choices made regarding your child’s international school education can factor into their later choices, including: 1. The language of instruction and their preparation for universitylevel study in a given language. 2. The diploma your child receives at the end of secondary education. 3. Your child’s marks and the specific subjects studied.

THE SWISS SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION The Swiss system of tertiary education has undergone major reorganisation since 1999, partially in response to the Bologna Accords, a process where 47 countries voluntarily work towards comparable and AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



compatible degree programs throughout Europe. The goals of the Bologna process include free movement for further study or employment from one country to another (within the European Higher Education Area), promoting Europe as a destination for study and work, and greater convergence between higher education in the U.S. and Europe. Within Switzerland, a joint interuniversity agreement promotes cooperation and exchanges between universities and enables students to continue their studies at another type of university under certain predefined conditions. There are four types of academic institutions of higher education in Switzerland: 1. The Swiss university system is composed of ten cantonal universities and two federal institutes of technology. 2. Swiss universities of applied sciences and arts


(UAS) provide sciencebased and practice-oriented education that prepares students for specific professions. 3. Swiss universities of teacher education (UTE) are responsible for providing basic and continuing teacher education. 4. An increasing number of private institutions of higher education offer bachelor and masters degree programs.

degree programs at these institutions typically last three years, with Masters programs an additional one to two years. In many fields, a bachelor is not considered a terminal degree so students need to plan on continuing on to a Masters program, though not necessarily at the same university. Unlike universities in some countries, Swiss universities seem to have more than adequate funding and to be continuously pursuing new and exciting initiatives.

Terminology is always a challenge in Switzerland, so the table below shows the English terms used in this article and the equivalents in the major Swiss languages.

The three universities located in the Lac Léman region have French as the primary language of instruction:

THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM The twelve Swiss universities are the only research universities in Switzerland that are allowed to confer doctoral degrees. Bachelor

• The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has bachelor programs in architecture, engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics and chemistry. • University of Geneva offers bachelor programs in arts and humanities,

Suisse Romande

German-Speaking Cantons






University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Hautes écoles spécialisées (HES)


Scuole Universitarie Professionali

University of Teacher Education (UTE)

Hautes écoles pédagogiques (HEP)

Pädagogische Hochschulen

Alte scuole pedagogiche

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mathematics and natural sciences, social science, and economics, international relations, law, theology, translation and interpretation, medicine, and teacher training. The HEC Geneva, part of the university, has bachelor programs in business and information technology. • The University of Lausanne (UNIL) has bachelor programs in theology and religious studies, law, forensic science, arts and humanities, social sciences, sport sciences and physical education, geosciences and the environment, biology, medicine, pharmaceutical and sciences. The HEC Lausanne, part of UNIL, offers bachelor programs in Business and Economics. EPFL is highly rated in world rankings of universities, such as the Shanghai rankings, and is actively hiring some of the best intellects in the world. The cantonal universities in Geneva and Lausanne also show up in the top 150 universities worldwide. The only bachelor courses currently offered by Swiss universities instruction in English are English language and literature studies. Bachelor students must, therefore, have a high level facility with French to be successful. Students are required to take a language exam unless they are native French speakers or went to a secondary school with French as the language of instruction.

Students, who obtain the Swiss Maturité certificate, either from a private or local school, automatically gain access to Swiss universities. Programs in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and chiropractic require entrance examinations when the number of applicants for admission in any given year exceeds the space available. Note that a downside to Swiss universities is the difficulty of staying in once you enrol. Students considering Swiss universities should be aware that a high percentage of students do not complete or pass the first year, although some repeat the first year and pass on a second attempt. Swiss universities admit students who apply with an IB Diploma, A Levels, and other “foreign” secondary school qualifications, provided that they have taken specified subjects and met certain minimum marks. If your child is considering applying to a Swiss university, be sure that the courses they take in upper secondary school meet the admission criteria. Since the challenge of being successful in Swiss universities seems greater for students with non-Swiss qualifications, ask your child’s school about the experiences of previous graduates to understand your child’s likelihood of success. Students entering EPFL should consider the yearlong CMS preparatory course or the Polymaths course, foundation programs in math and science.

The table on the following page showing admission requirements is provided for reference purposes only and may not be current. Refer to the university website for the latest information. With fees for Swiss nationals and permanent residents (C permit) of approximately 1,000 – 1,500 CHF per year, the advantage of staying in Switzerland seems obvious. However, some of the potential savings of the low fees for university is offset by the high cost of living and the possible need for students to repeat a year. Since English is widely used in business, science and technology, students who have not had English as their language of instruction in secondary school benefit from spending time in an English academic environment. Swiss universities offer options to study abroad in the US, UK, or other English-speaking countries, and many Masters programs are in English.

THE UNIVERSITIES OF APPLIED SCIENCES AND ARTS (UAS) While Swiss universities focus on academic subjects and pure research, Switzerland has regionally organised universities of applied sciences and arts (UAS), or Hautes Ecoles Specialisées (HES) to provide a more practiceoriented education and to perform applied research and development. Frequent AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



exchanges between faculty and practitioners in industry keep programs attuned to needs of the labour market so graduates typically leave with excellent job prospects, The Haute Ecole Spécialisé de Suisse Occidentale (HES-SO) is a collection of 27 schools of higher education in the Suisse Romande with bachelor programs in: • Business, management and services • Engineering and information technology • Social work, psychology • Healthcare, nursing • Architecture, building engineering and planning • Chemistry and life sciences • Agriculture and Forestry • Music and the arts • Hospitality management Campuses are scattered around

the region. A few Englishlanguage bachelor programs at Swiss universities of applied science exist in the areas of hospitality management, business administration, and management and information technology, such as the International Business Management program at the Haute École De Gestion in Geneva.

work experience. As a result, students from international schools might be required to spend a year working in their desired field before starting at the UAS. For example, an IB student who is accepted at the École Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) might be told to first spend a year working an entrylevel position at a hotel or restaurant.

Admission criteria and processes for UAS bachelor programs differ by the field of study, so check the website for each course, or contact the institution directly for details. General cut-offs for marks on non-Swiss qualifications are typically not published. Many of the haute écoles admit students who have previously completed a pre-professional or professional qualification that included significant

The renowned EHL is part of HES-SO through a unique public/private arrangement with subsidised fees for Swiss nationals and permanent residents. EHL has top-ranked programs preparing students for the hospitality industry and is a popular destination for international school students with bachelor programs in both French and English. EHL has its own rigorous and holistic admission process

Minimum requirements for admission to Swiss universities



A Levels


38/42 points (without bonus points)

3 A-levels (including maths + chemistry or physics + one language) + 4 GCSEs; no grade below B

Entrance exam complete/reduced

- HL in math, in physics or chem.., plus one modern language

- At least 3 AP exams w/ score of 3, in Mathematics, (one of Physics, Chemistry or Biology), a modern language

- 3 SL courses from the specified fields UNIL, UGE

32/42 points (without bonus points) - Math or Science at HL, other subjects restricted

- American diploma covering a specified set of subjects.

3 A-levels (incl. maths or one science)+ 1 GCE AS + 2 GCSE, no grade below C

3 A-levels (incl. maths or one science)+ 1 GCE AS + 2 GCSE, no grade below C 5 AP exams: must include two languages, mathematics, history, and a science subject (chemistry, biology or physics). Minimum score for AP Tests: 3

Not all AP exams are recognized


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and publishes minimum academic qualifications for international school students on their website. Applicants who pass a first evaluation of their business, organisational, relationship and artistic skills are invited to a Selection Day of exams, an interview, and a role-playing exercise. Approximately one in three applicants are accepted. There are separate Haute Écoles for visual arts, music, and theatre arts, such as ECAL, the art school in Lausanne, and the HEM in Geneva, which evolved from the original Conservatoire de Musique de Genève. Schools in the arts, music, and theatre require a demonstration of talent, including an audition or submission of a portfolio, and/or exams. Sometimes a foundation year program, such as the one at ECAL, can replace a year of experience in the field.

UNIVERSITIES OF TEACHER TRAINING The universities of teacher education (UTE) replaced previous forms of teacher training in Switzerland in 2001. Based on the same principles as the UAS, most UTEs are independent institutions offering practiceoriented training. HEP-Vaud in Lausanne has bachelor programs for training preschool and primary level teachers, as well as Masters programs for teaching at the secondary level. Teachers in Geneva are trained in the Institut Universitaire de


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Formation des Enseignants, (IUFE), which is part of the University of Geneva.

PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION In addition to Swiss universities and UASs, private institutions of higher education provide local options for students who want to study in English for a bachelor degree in Switzerland. Private institutions attract students who may not be admissible to Swiss institutions, or who want to pursue certain specialised fields. Non-profit foundations operate some private institutions, while others are operated on a forprofit basis. Webster University in Geneva is one of two American colleges in Switzerland offering 4-year bachelor programs in a range of fields. Webster’s Geneva campus is a branch of Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, which has additional campuses in London, Leiden, Vienna, Thailand, and China. Webster has bachelor programs in business and management, computer science, European studies, history, international relations, media communications, photography, and psychology. Webster is accredited in the United States. Franklin College in Lugano, an independent liberal arts college accredited in both the US and in Switzerland, offers bachelor programs in the arts and humanities, international

relations, and international business and economics. Graduates of both colleges go on to pursue post-graduate education in Swiss universities and other universities around the world. Other institutions of higher education located in Switzerland focus on courses in one specific area, primarily hotel management and business, with many courses taught in English. The admissions processes for these programs range from being easy access to highly selective, with fees ranging as high as 50,000 CHF per year. The Swiss government does not regulate the establishment of private institutions of higher education, so anyone can set one up and the interests of investors may conflict with the interests of students. It can be difficult to judge schools that have not existed long enough to develop a significant track record.

DOING YOUR RESEARCH No matter what type of course your child is considering, it is critical that you both do your research. Start early to ensure that your child studies the required subjects. Discuss whether a course suits your child and his or her likelihood of success. What is the process for changing to a different course if it comes to that? Take a careful look at the school’s accreditations, which in some fields may impact

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future access to professional licensure and practice. The accreditation of the school that awards a bachelor degree can also influence options for post-graduate study. The most valuable accreditations are those from a governmental or regional accrediting organization. Be on the lookout for accreditation agencies created to provide an air of credibility to schools but without a meaningful quality review process. Visit each school and ask lots of questions. Check the website for a schedule of open days and make an effort to be there. Investigate faculty credentials and where graduates go after they leave. Is

there an active alumni network graduates can use? The easier it is for students to be admitted to a course, the more questions you should ask. Even rankings or league tables, as well as online reviews, might not be trustworthy so scrutinise the source. Although great options for earning a bachelor degree exist in Switzerland, many international school students do not find one that works for them. Those students who want to live and work in Switzerland but attend university elsewhere may choose to pursue one of the many Swiss Masters degree programs offered in English in order to build their local

network before starting a career here.

LEARN MORE: For more information on Swiss Universities see: dms.php?id=61 For more information on how where Swiss universities fall in world rankings please see: http://www.

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countries like Switzerland, the high school exit exams reign supreme in university admissions, so students and parents feel there is nothing to be done until the last exam paper has been handed in.


Regular deadlines for admissions to American universities in the USA (as there are several American universities located outside of the 50 states – their deadlines are later) usually fall in December and January of students’ final year of secondary school. This calendar can create a stressful autumn for graduating students. The flip side is that in the spring, before graduation, students often get the news that they have been accepted at one or more universities and they can start to make plans to attend. Many American universities pair up accepted students with returning students and have extensive orientation programs in place before the freshman (first) year of university begins.

You may or may not know that the application process to universities in the USA can be long and complicated. There are literally thousands of colleges and universities to choose from, and there is a very wide range of acceptance rates, subject offerings, and even tuition fees. As a general rule, public universities cost a bit less for state residents (not country residents) and international students (or American students applying from outside the country) will pay out-of-state (higher) rates. Before a student is accepted to a university, there are fees to pay for required standardised tests and even for the administrative process of having your application considered (application fees). Outside of the USA, families are not always aware that American universities often base their admissions decisions on academic performance in the three years preceding the final year of high school. In


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Just in case this time table sounds illogical to you, I should point out that offers of admission can be annulled if a student does not successfully complete his final year of high school, including passing exit exams like the Maturité or the IB. Often, students will apply to 5-10 colleges and universities, and in the spring they communicate their intentions to any schools

that may have accepted them. This allows the colleges and universities to plan for their fall enrolment as well. If you are accepted to a university that you will not attend, the polite thing to do is to decline the offer as soon as possible. This courtesy may open up a place for another student who has been put on a waiting list for admission. I certainly hope you will have the luxury of choice!

WHAT IS EARLY ACTION AND WHAT IS EARLY DECISION? When speaking with teenagers, guidance counsellor Barbara Chen, based in Beijing, uses the analogy that “Early Action is like dating, and Early Decision is like getting engaged.” So, basically, it’s about making a commitment – before you know if the school you are courting is interested in you! If you are exploring American university websites, and reading through admissions policies, you may encounter the following abbreviations: EA, ED and SCEA. They stand for Early Admission, Early Decision, and Single Choice Early Action programs. If you think you might be interested in one of these programs, read through the policies and procedures carefully. Not every university uses these terms in exactly the same way. The connecting thread in all of these programs is the word early – they all involve applying earlier and having the

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possibility of an acceptance or waiting list offer earlier than the late spring. This can be a huge advantage for some students, freeing them up in the spring to concentrate completely on their exams – and enjoying the end of high school!

IS THERE AN ADMISSIONS ADVANTAGE? There is also a belief among parents and students that using one of these early programs for applying to college will increase the chances of a positive response – even from an extremely competitive college with a low admission to application ratio. The

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truth is that the early action programs tend to attract extremely qualified students who have pinned their hopes to a particular school. If admission rates are higher (and they usually are), it is probably because students using early decision are better matches for the institution than those in the full applicant pool. These programs can provide an excellent platform to express your enthusiasm for one particular college; however, they in no way allow less qualified students to join competitive schools. As a counsellor, I would suggest to a family that there is a slight advantage for the student who is very good but not sure to “get in.” Using the early

application programs can be strategic in these instances. Early Action programs are usually non-binding, which means they give students the service of applying early and getting a decision early, without obliging the student to attend the institution. If a student is accepted to a university through an Early Action program, he can take time to wait for other letters of acceptance and scholarship offers before deciding and committing to one college. SCEA, or the single choice programs, instruct students to choose only one college or university for an early admission program – while allowing applicants to apply to AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



And, most importantly:

DO I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO COLLEGE – IS IT TRULY MY DREAM SCHOOL? If you are dreaming of a particular college, the one your grandmother attended for example, and it is a strong first choice, go for it! An early application program could be just the right strategic move to make your dreams come true. Good luck! other colleges and universities using the regular deadlines. Do not, under any circumstances, break this policy if it exists where you would like to apply – the schools share information and they will find out – and you won’t get in. Early Decision programs are binding, which involve more of a commitment from applicants. Basically, if you use the Early Decision option to apply for a university and they accept you, you must attend – even if you are accepted at several different universities. This kind of application is like a promise from the student and the family. You can make one Early Decision application to one school only. If you are accepted to a college through an Early Decision program, you are expected to both stop applying to other colleges and universities and withdraw all applications you may have made to other places. Again, the colleges communicate with each other and they


AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine

will find out if you try to get our of your Early Decision commitment. It is unlikely you will be accepted elsewhere if you do not honour the original offer.

ARE EARLY APPLICATION PROGRAMS RIGHT FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS? The answer is complicated because it depends on the student, the family, and the academic and extracurricular records you have for the preceding three years. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if these programs are right for you: • Do I have excellent grades? • Have I taken the required standardised tests and performed well? • Do I have a variety of interests and accomplishments reflected in my extracurricular activities from age 14?

LEARN MORE: Denise Nickerson specializes in assisting international, multicultural, and expatriated families through the application process so they can make great university choices! You can contact her at

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n the past, Canada was overlooked as an option for international students searching for the right university setting. Many expat families just wanted their children to study “back home”, either in the USA or in the UK. Today more and more students in Switzerland and other countries are looking at Canada as a viable possibility for a variety of reasons. You may be attracted to the North American style of learning, the access to beautiful natural settings, the diverse and friendly population, and the lower cost of living when comparing Canada to Europe. With ten provinces and three territories, Canada is the world’s second-largest country by area (and only the 37th largest in terms of population). In other words, there is plenty of room for international students looking for a little space for their big ideas! Although there is a national association called the AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada) for higher education setting standards and linking Canadian universities nationwide, the provinces govern higher education individually. There is no federal ministry of education in Canada.


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INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE WELCOME In Canada, the international student population has increased a great deal (more than 60%) in the past decade. As a general rule, international students are welcome – Canadians value diversity and how it can contribute to the overall educational experience on university campuses. International students usually pay higher tuition than local students as well, which the universities also appreciate. Tuition fees are approaching those in the USA and the UK; however, there are some opportunities for international students to win scholarships to study in Canada.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS Humber College (a polytechnic) and York University (Canada’s 3rd largest university) both in Toronto, Ontario offer the possibility of full scholarships for talented international students. Places like Concordia University in Montréal, Quebec and Vancouver Island University in British Columbia offer a

variety of scholarships for non-Canadians as well. If you are interested in financial support at any Canadian university, communicate with the admissions office before applying to make sure you are eligible. Most scholarships for international students in Canada are based on academic merit.

PROVIDE PROOF OF YOUR LEVEL IN ENGLISH OR FRENCH Expect to face language ability evaluations in French or English depending on where you apply. Universities in Canada take care to make sure that their international students can participate fully and succeed in their academic courses and this begins with the ability to read, write, think and speak in the language of instruction. Language requirements vary from university to university, so be careful to follow application instructions.

STUDENT VISAS As with studies in any country, if you do not hold a Canadian passport, you will have to obtain a student visa in order to attend university there – a


letter of acceptance does not stand on its own. This is something to keep in mind when applying – stay on top of deadlines and be organised! There have been delays in recent years due to strikes among the Canadian foreign services, which can slow the student visa process down.

PLENTY OF CHOICE – BUT NOT TOO MANY CHOICES McGill University in Montréal, Quebec, and the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario lead the pack in terms of global rankings, usually placing in the top 30 universities world-wide. It is worth taking the time to look into the offerings at other universities as well. The good news is that there are only about one hundred universities in Canada. This means you actually can get an idea of where you might fit in when considering both academics and student life. When facing over 4000 college and university choices in the USA, students and parents often get overwhelmed.

APPLICATIONS ARE WELCOME FROM A VARIETY OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS According to Canadian guidance counsellor Heather Grant, based in Toronto, students applying from Switzerland will encounter few roadblocks when it comes to the different high school diplomas available here in

Switzerland. Most Canadian admissions officers are familiar with the IB Diploma, the Swiss Maturité, and the French Baccalaureate. Some Canadian universities even offer advanced university credit for successful AP exam results. Like in US, each Canadian university will have its own admissions standards and policies in terms of academic results on any particular diploma program.

TECHNOLOGY – ONE COMPELLING REASON Canadian students learn in computer labs and smart classrooms, and benefit from widespread connectivity. The universities maintain a high standard when it comes to technology, which prepares students for a rapidly changing work environment upon graduation. Immigration to Canada – another reason Canada is an attractive option for international students In 1971, Canada embraced the value of multiculturalism through official government policy – and that decision has had amazing results. At the beginning of this century, Canada’s population consisted of over 34 wellrepresented ethnic groups and about twenty percent of the total population was made up of people whose native language was neither English nor French! Sound familiar? Switzerland is about as linguistically diverse. This means that both as an

international student with a Swiss high school experience and as an international person in Canada – you will feel comfortable being yourself! If you decide you would like to gain some work experience in Canada upon graduation, you can benefit from immigration policy that recognises your university studies as valuable. Unlike other countries, you may be able to stay in Canada and begin working without having to leave the country when your studies are finished. The only reason you might not want to study in Canada is if you are dreaming of enjoying a warmer climate after your Swiss high school experience!

LEARN MORE: When students want to study in Canada, Denise Nickerson joins forces with Canadian educator Heather Grant across the Atlantic. Denise specializes in assisting international, multicultural, and expatriated families through the application process so they can make great university choices! You can contact her at,

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weden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Austria all have strong public vocational education programmes; Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal don’t. Better vocational education leads to more resilient economies and lower youth unemployment rates. Although everyone agrees that better, more widespread vocational education supports sustained economic growth, many parents still push their children towards academic, highly abstract qualifications. The strongest reason for this rush towards increasingly academic qualifications at the secondary school level may be social prestige. Even if plumbers can make a lot of money, that line of work is rarely thought of as prestigious – either among teenagers or their parents. But vocational education is also an inspiring way to access careers in aerospace engineering, in business, in a wide range of creative industries, in healthcare, and in hotel management. These are highprestige fields because they are useful to society, they are well remunerated and they can provide career flexibility and high levels of job satisfaction.


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Despite the many benefits of a purely vocational education, we know that academic education teaches students important skills too. Its focus on using language to analyse a wide range of situations combined with the well-rounded approach of an academic curriculum is still associated with superior communication skills. If vocational education is traditionally associated with resilience and resourcefulness and academic approaches are thought of as strong in analysis and communication, why can’t we have the best of both worlds? How long will it take us to recognise that there is no need to choose between the joy of intellectual exploration for its own sake and the need to make one’s way in the world?

THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE’S CAREER-RELATED CERTIFICATE (IBCC): BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACADEMIC AND VOCATIONAL LEARNING Learning to apply subject knowledge to a career context is what quality vocational education is all about. Educators have known for years that teaching knowledge, and teaching students how to critically evaluate that knowledge is not enough. Students also need to be taught how to apply that knowledge to real world contexts – and it is here that academic education can benefit from the traditions of vocational education, a tradition that goes far beyond

work experience, a tradition that remains rigorously focused on the context of the problem which needs solving. Over five years ago, the International Baccalaureate Organisation began considering how they could provide a rigorous post16 education which would bridge the gap between the academic and the vocational. The highly academic IB Diploma Programme courses were a starting point. They knew that students around the world would want vocational education in courses ranging from engineering to business to art and design and that academic courses such as physics, mathematics, economics, and design technology would be able to provide some of the knowledge base to support the development of vocational expertise. To these academic courses, the International Baccalaureate Organisation added a vocational qualification and a core course which reflects the skills which employers are looking for in future recruits. These elements, and more, combine to form the International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC), the details of which can be seen in the diagram on the next page.

THE IBCC AT THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF GENEVA From September 2013 the International School of Geneva (Campus des Nations) will be the only school in


International Primary School of Les Monts-de-Corsier / Vevey

academic excellence caring family atmosphere small classes outstanding location We invite you to visit our school and adjoining crèche, only 3 minutes from the Châtel-Saint-Denis motorway exit, to find out how we can provide the best educational solution for your family.

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22 • +41 21 948 08 08 •


Switzerland offering the IBCC. There are two career tracks available: business and art and design. Both of these courses prepare students for university studies, but we have our eyes set on the far horizon and our ultimate goal is to prepare students to excel in the careers of their choice. CBI, the biggest business lobby in the UK, has echoed what many employers have been telling educators for years. Employers want skilful, knowledgeable, tenacious, and creative employees who show a knowledge of global concerns grounded in a solid ethical framework. This is what the IBCC at Ecolint aims to deliver. Student Choice: We constructed the


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requirements of the Ecolint curriculum based on the premise that if students can drop subjects they hate and choose those they love, then they will be more passionate about their studies. Students can choose between 2 and 4 Diploma Programme subjects and they can take these at higher or at standard level. Since students are, presumably, more highly motivated by their chosen subjects they will work harder to acquire the academic knowledge and the analytical skills prized by that subject area. Thus the flexibility and the focus of the IBCC will help students excel. Clear Expectations for Students: Whilst an element of choice is important, it is essential that teaching strategies and

expectations are structured and clear. This is especially important in the vocational element of the IBCC, the BTEC (The Business and Technology Education Council). The focus here is on the transfer of knowledge from the theoretical realm to a practical application. For many students in secondary school the most difficult skill to master is knowing when to use knowledge from one practical application to solve a new problem. Students make the knowledge transfer more effectively when they feel that they are faced with a meaningful real-life context related to their chosen study in either business or art and design. In addition to this the BTEC criteria are very easy to interpret and they lend themselves to practical tasks. Business students might be asked, for example, to produce a cash flow statement for a local company which meets the International Accounting Standard. Or art and design students might be asked to use “motion blur, differential focus, depth of field, and bokeh� in their location photography portfolios to help market a sporting event. Students might then be assessed on their ability to combine these techniques coherently with a range of technologies and recording media for ease of distribution. Relevant Knowledge: The IBCC allows students the possibility to specialise and it provides them with clear and achievable targets, but to keep student ambition high on a


day to day basis, we need to be certain that all knowledge is explicitly relevant to the student and the career area. The core of the IBCC teaches practical office skills, such as touch-typing and computer literacy, independent research skills, entrepreneurship, business ethics, international mindedness, language acquisition, and presentation skills. All of these units are taught to encourage students to link their academic knowledge with their core skills so they can demonstrate mastery of their vocational skills in their chosen career. An Exciting Education: The IBCC at Nations will be exciting not just in its content but in its delivery. Expert

practitioners from marketing, product design, law, event management, the art world and many other fields will teach classes to share their experiences with students and to ensure that what students are learning is really relevant to these professions. We will actively support students in finding internships so that they can build industry experience while studying. We will recognise and praise the informal learning which happens outside the classroom. Students will organize events and work on business plans and websites linked to local businesses and initiatives. In short students will be encouraged to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through action. It is our belief

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that this will make for more confident, competent, happier students.

For more information on the IBCC please see: http:// For more information on the BTEC please see: http:// For more information on the IBCC at the International School of Geneva, please see: about their studies.

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t TutorsPlus, we receive continuous requests from parents for homework support. Even children who achieve well at school and parents with the best intentions can experience tedious conflicts over assignments. A few changes to the structure and environment of the evening can empower you to alter your child’s attitude and make for a productive and positive homework experience. Instilling good habits along the way improves the quality of their work and fosters independent learning skills for the future. There are growing calls in Europe to move away from homework altogether because in some households it has become such an adversarial struggle. Some charities and political figures have called for schools to scrap formal homework, warning that it can lead to rebellion and burnout. However, there are still a significant number of education professionals who argue that homework provides vital reinforcement of classwork, as well as a host of useful life skills to

equip children for success later on. Feedback from teachers on work that children have completed on their own can also raise a child’s self-esteem and, if it is not seen as a punishment, it can be worthwhile and positive in improving a child’s performance in lessons. Where homework continues to be set, it is widely agreed that the quality, not quantity of your child’s work is what really matters.

LEARNING LIFE SKILLS Homework teaches children to become responsible for their own learning and to organise themselves. These skills are best developed with the right kind of supervision and support – the key is to find the best balance between helping them, and allowing them to help themselves. A good routine, a suitable environment and encouraging independent learning skills are crucial in avoiding the homework battle.

NO EXCUSES PLEASE Establishing an evening routine early on in a child’s school career sets an expectation that homework is part of daily life, as unavoidable as brushing teeth. If you can create consistency in the homework routine, children know to expect it, which will help to reduce resistance. It is normal for children to come up with colourful excuses to try and avoid homework, but it is important they know there

is no possibility for them to be doing anything else during that time every day. For example, if there is no school work set one evening, stick to the routine by encouraging them to read or go over spellings and times tables. Alternatively encourage them to do something quiet and creative, such as writing a story, or completing quizzes. Homework and quiet study needs to be the only option at the same time each day. If your child is not well behaved one evening, re-set the next day and continue with the routine.

HOMEWORK TIME! Homework should be prioritised and not left to the last minute in the evening when children are tired and less able to concentrate. It is best to allow children a short break to relax when they get home from school, and make sure they have had something healthy to eat before settling down to work, at the same time each day. This also leaves enough time to do something to relax afterwards, creating an incentive for homework to be done without a fuss. The consistency from day to day is as important as the time you choose for homework.

GET ORGANISED! We can do a lot to help our children master good organisational skills, be able to prioritise tasks and become independent learners from an early age. This is very much linked to establishing a good routine, but there are other things that can help. Primary AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



school is not too early to be introducing good filing habits, homework diaries and revision schedules. In the Swiss public system, for example, children are given the week’s homework in one go. The responsibility to complete a large volume of work by competing deadlines can seem daunting and often paralysing. But sitting with your child, working out the week’s priorities and breaking down the work into manageable chunks will teach them to take responsibility for their own timetable, and develop their own schedule. Well organised homework and honest conversations about time consuming or difficult pieces in advance of deadlines will stop the workload seeming overwhelming. As your child progresses through school, good organisational skills become even more key to academic success. Older students need to be able to keep a large volume of work to refer back to especially in exams. Encourage them to create their own summary cards to add to their revision resources and make it easier to understand the key points in their work later on. Clear, visual resources and well-ordered work will help them when re-visiting content. When study leave begins, older students may still need a level of supervision and support to create a good study timetable and to organise their notes.


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THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT Homework can take twice as long when children are unfocused or distracted. Whether it is their bedroom desk or in a quiet space downstairs, the right environment impacts hugely on a child’s ability to concentrate. It is also helpful if this area contains resources, such as stationery and dictionaries, to minimise the need for them to get up and disrupt their work. The association of homework with a quiet study environment builds good study skills for later, when revision and independent learning become essential for success. Ensuring the right kind of study in this quiet time requires varying levels of supervision. We often hear parents concerned that their child spends hours working in their room, but still has issues completing their homework. Teenagers in particular will often be trying to combine concentrated study with checking Facebook, watching TV and using their phone. Bringing the studying downstairs where a parent or helper is close by (and indeed where other children are doing their homework) can help you ensure they are not being distracted by technology. The internet adds a new dimension to the homework conundrum. Children need to be directed to the right resources and carefully informed about the potential for erroneous information and

that plagiarism will not help them in the long run. While the internet is undoubtedly useful for research projects, it is important to encourage the use of reference books, particularly those provided by school, as they contain the core material that children will be tested on. Studies have shown that children who see their parents read or concentrate on quiet activities are more likely to find it natural to spend time over books. Completing work


or admin while your children are doing their homework reinforces the good study environment for homework and encourages them to think that taking time to study is part of normal life.

HELPING THEM TO HELP THEMSELVES A recent UK poll showed that 83% of parents of 9 to 13 year olds struggled to help with homework because they found the tasks too hard (The Guardian Online,

23.03.10). However, parents do not need to be an expert in year 7 Mathematics or year 12 Chemistry to be helpful. In later life, a child will feel much more control over their studies, satisfaction in their work and perform better in exams if they have been encouraged to think through problems and work through difficult questions. Telling them the answer won’t help them. Identifying specific areas they do not understand and finding the answer in their reference books, class notes or internet is much better than giving them the answer on a plate. Eventually this will empower them to do the same by themselves.

COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY Children can often become defensive and uncommunicative about areas they find difficult. Talking through with them the specific problems about their work will equip them with the skills to approach teachers for help. Children also need to be encouraged about areas they are good at, so they become confident in their academic abilities, as well as self-aware and able to express problem areas. Praise and constructive criticism helps to encourage honesty in a child about their strengths and weaknesses, and should help to breakdown reluctance to accept help or admit there is a problem. Making sure they know not to feel embarrassed and allowing them a degree of autonomy to express where they feel they

are underperforming are the first steps to solving the issue.

A STRESS-FREE SOLUTION Homework battles can become very emotionally charged between parents and children. To help set good homework practices it can be a good idea to bring in a neutral outsider to help relieve the stress from the situation and establish a more positive routine. A situation can become difficult if battles have become the norm, as the child associates homework with stress and negativity. TutorsPlus is experienced at re-setting this balance and providing support to parents and children so that they can re-learn to do their homework by themselves. We also provide specialist support during important revision periods.

GET IN TOUCH: To talk to one of TutorPlus’ educational experts, call +41 (0)22 731 81 48 or email

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SPOTLIGHT ON THE A-LEVEL PROGRAMME AS A POST-16 CHOICE BY SABINE HUTCHESON, ACADEMIC DIRECTOR AT TUTORSPLUS In a region where we are spoilt for choice in post-secondary education, it is important to learn as much as you can about your options. At TutorsPlus we often get asked to explain the pros and cons of the different choices available and A-Levels are a choice that many parents didn’t realise was available in Geneva and Lausanne. This term we thought we would, therefore, turn the spotlight on A-Levels. Just as with the IB diploma, the French Baccalaureate and the Swiss Maturité, successful completion of A-Levels can be a ticket to universities worldwide and, since this programme is available to students of all nationalities and educational backgrounds who meet the entrance requirements, it is worth understanding its structure and relative advantages.

in the UK. A-Levels are subject-specific qualifications available in over 30 subjects ranging from Physics to Psychology. Students taking A-Levels are typically 16 to 18 years of age. It is generally required that a student should achieve a C or above grade at GCSE in the subject that they wish to study for A-Level. The major advantage to A-Levels is that students can study as few as 3 or 4 subjects, whilst the IB, French Bac and Swiss Maturité require student to master from 6 to 11 subjects. This means that students who are not all-rounders can focus on a limited range of subjects and so capitalise on their strengths. There is no requirement to study any one particular subject so students can discard the ones they have no interest in or struggle with and focus on the ones they wish to pursue. In a nutshell, where the IB demands that students be all-rounders, A-Levels are a more specialised and focused diploma which can be a tremendous advantage for certain types of students, particularly in today’s increasingly competitive university application environment.



The A-Level, or “Advanced Level”, programme is the two-year course that follows the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)

Success in the A-Level programme is known to lead to entrance in universities all around the world. Furthermore, students having


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completed A-Levels are well prepared and positioned to tackle the demands of the most challenging universities and disciplines. Indeed, studying for A-Levels requires a certain degree of maturity as much of the week is spent on independent study. Students must manage their study time, reading and assignments by themselves and be prepared for the more seminar-like approach of lessons. In this respect, A-Levels are very much a transition from teacher-led education pre-16 years old to the lectures of university degrees. In the past the IB was thought to be more discriminating and, therefore, to help students secure places at the most competitive universities. However, the introduction in 2008 of the A* grade in A-Levels now differentiates the highest performing students and has given university admissions an even better appreciation of a student’s academic achievement. Whilst A-Levels are advantageous to many students, colleges like the University of Oxford maintain that “the success rates for students applying with the IB and students applying with A-levels are broadly similar” and that they remain unbiased toward any particular qualification. The key lies in selecting the right programme for the right student. Universities require applicants to have completed three A-Levels and generally publish


the letter grades necessary for admission (for example, one A and two Bs). In order for students to maximise their chances of achieving the standards sought by the universities of their choice, many A-Level candidates will undertake four courses (perhaps even more in the first year) and apply to university based on their top three scores.

HOW IS THE PROGRAMME STRUCTURED? In the A-Level programme, students generally select 3 or 4 subjects that most interest them, allowing them to focus on their passions and their strengths, as well as the courses that will be most relevant to them at university. The subjects are taught in a modular way and subjectspecific exams are given at the end of the first year (called AS) and the second year (called A2). A-Level students are not asked to prepare an Extended Essay or other significant body of work outside of their normal courses as in the IB programme. Successful completion of three A-Level courses is all the academic qualification necessary for university admission.

WHO CAN ENROL IN THE A-LEVELS? To study A-Levels, a student in a UK educational system generally needs five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grade C or

above. However, this twoyear programme is open to students aged 16 and above of all nationalities and educational backgrounds. According to Raji Sundaram, Principal of the British School of Geneva, over the years that BSG has offered the A-Level programme, it has admitted students from all over the world, many of them nonEnglish mother tongue. Mrs Sundaram is proud to have seen her graduates go on to universities in the UK, Europe (including Switzerland), North America, Asia and Australia to study the subjects of their choice.

THE PROS AND CONS OF A-LEVELS The strongest advantage for many students is the ability to focus where their passion and aptitude lie. A student who excels in Mathematics and intends to pursue that field need not invest time in other compulsory subjects that may hinder their achievement by bringing unnecessary pressure. A-Level exams are taken independently from one another and students who have failed in any subject are able to re-take this particular exam to improve their marks. Dr Rachael Walker, Science teacher/Science and Mathematics Co-ordinator at Brillantmont International School in Lausanne says, “For me, the main advantage of taking A levels is that it is possible to specialise and go into greater depth.

For example, for students who wish to pursue studies in Science, it is often advantageous to take all three sciences, since they reinforce each other. This is not possible in the IB. Also, a student with A levels will be able to go into more detail in their preferred subjects.” On the other hand, not all students are able to make choices so early on about what they might want to study or need later on. Specialising in 3 subjects only may, therefore, limit their choices later if they change their mind. Many students are also in fact allrounders and may prefer an educational system that offers them the opportunity to shine in a variety of subjects. Whilst completing A-Levels, candidates enjoy the benefit of personalised support from teachers, counsellors, and school directors. Particular attention is paid to the refinement of increasingly called-upon time and workload management skills. In this way, the A-Level programme provides a strong transition from a structured secondary school environment to the relative freedom of university life.

IDEAL STUDENT PROFILE FOR A-LEVELS • Independent and selfmotivated • Has a particular strength and knows the area of specialisation he or she wants to pursue AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



• Interested in delving deeper into specific subjects rather than broadly into many

THE ADVANTAGES OF THE A-LEVEL PROGRAMME Mrs Sundaram, Principal of the British School of Geneva, the only school in the Geneva area offering an A-Level programme, summarises its benefits as follows: “The A-Levels definitely suits a certain type of student, one who is good in certain academic areas. Being forced to do subjects that you are not interested in takes attention away from ones in which you can excel. The GCSEs, that

precede the A-Levels, offer a variety of subjects, thus providing a well-rounded education across the board. The A-Levels are a safe bet if you are planning to go to university in the UK or anywhere else in the world, including North America, Australia or Europe.” If you would like more information on A-Levels or any other programme available in Switzerland, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you would like expert advice or help deciding the best post-16 choice for your children, TutorsPlus can help. We provide tuition for students of all ages, but we also use our experience of international, US, Swiss and French education systems to help parents navigate the wealth of choices available in Switzerland.

Sabine Hutcheson, Academic Director at TutorsPlus, can be reached on +41 (0)22 731 81 48 or by email at

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nfectious diseases have always been a worrying source of illness and mortality for people. The study of the spread of such diseases and their prevention has spawned whole subspecialties of medicine such as Public Health and Epidemiology. In the 14th century as the bubonic plague swept through Europe, the government of Venice tried to limit its spread to their island by instituting maritime isolation laws. They required ships to anchor away from the city for 40 days ‘quaranti giorni’, before they could unload any passengers, livestock or cargo, during which time the ship had to fly a yellow flag. The idea was that any diseases carried would have time to be identified, treated or have run their natural course etc. Hence the concept of quarantine developed. And these concepts are directly applicable to us as parents and carers here in Switzerland. Our children catch colds, cough, lice, germs and all sorts as they go about their social, muddy, busy lives. It is an appropriate part of a normal


childhood! What we can do is to help reduce the spread of these diseases to other children and adults by applying the principles of quarantine. Helpfully, the Swiss Cantonal Paediatricians have published some guidelines to aid medical and educational professionals know when a child can and can’t return to school after having had an infectious disease diagnosed1.

when your child can carry on and when they need to stay home. Be sure to get a firm diagnosis from a paediatrician, pharmacist or other appropriate healthcare professional before applying these guidelines to be sure your child is getting the best care they need. PAEDIATRICA Vol 16 No 5 2005 © Copyright HealthFirst 2013 1

On the following page, you’ll find a more accessible version of some of the guidelines for your use at home, in playgroups, nurseries and schools. Remember that these standards should apply to adults too as they consider returning to work…. I hope you find this chart useful as you try to appropriately balance your work, family, childcare, schooling, after school activities etc – knowing

International maritime signal quarantine flag. This means that the ship is carrying people or animals that are or may potentially be contagious.

ABOUT DR PENNY FRASER Dr Penny is a British-trained Emergency Medicine doctor, who lives in Geneva. She is also the mother of two busy little girls aged 6 and 8. Along with Dr Michelle Wright and her other colleagues at HealthFirst, she has a passion for delivering health education and First Aid training to the English-speaking community in Switzerland. HealthFirst provides a range of dynamic, interactive First Aid courses and Health and Sex Education seminars to staff members and students of Swiss International Schools, sports clubs, playgroups, businesses, NGOs and individual members of the public. Their native English speaking trainers also deliver the obligatory First Aid course for the Swiss Driver’s Licence for anyone from the age of 14. Take a look at www. for more details.



What do they have?

What is it usually caused by?

When can they go back to school?

How can I help stop it spreading?

What else do I need to know?

Sore throat

A virus

When they are feeling well enough

Coughing into a tissue then throwing it away. Then washing hands.

Aspirin gargles should not be given to children.

Strep throat

Streptococcus bacteria

When they are feeling well enough (at the earliest 24 hours after they have started antibiotics).

As above.

A quick in-office test can be done by the doctor to see if the sore throat is caused by a bacteria – and therefore whether they need to take antibiotics or not.

Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)

Virus or bacteria

It depends on how bad it is. If it is mild, they can go back to school. If it is quite bad then they may need to stay home to ensure adequate hand washing etc.

Lots of hand washing – including after every time the child touches their eyes or you put drops in their eyes. Avoid sharing towels, flannels and pillows too.

Always see a doctor if you think a child might have conjunctivitis – it can affect their eyesight.

Chicken pox


When the child is feeling well enough and when all their spots have burst and crusted over (usually around 5-6 days after the rash begins).

Wash any infected bedding, clothing and cuddly toys. Wipe down hard surfaces with a sterilizing solution.

It is important to tell your child’s doctor and nursery/school that they have chicken pox. Keep them away from young babies, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems (eg those in hospital, on steroids tablets etc).

Flu (all sorts)

Various strains of virus

When they feel well enough.

Catch coughs and sneezes in a disposable tissue, throw it away straight away then wash your hands.

Keep the poorly person well hydrated and rested. Use paracetamol or ibuprofen to bring down a fever and make them feel better.

Diarrhoea and vomiting (Gastroenteritis)

Usually a virus but may be a bacteria

When the vomiting has stopped. Older children can go back to school before the diarrhoea has completed stopped if they are feeling well enough and they are able to adequately wash their hands.

Hand washing after every trip to the bathroom or contact with any diarrhoea or vomit. Washing hands before preparing or eating food, drink or babies bottles is important too.

If the diarrhoea and vomiting is caused by a norovirus (this would be identified by a doctor when there is currently an epidemic), the person should only return to school or work 48 hours after the diarrhoea and vomiting has completely stopped.

Molluscum contagiosum


Straight away.

Keep the spots covered with clothing. Avoid sharing towels, clothing and baths. Try not to let the child scratch the spots.

It is sensible to cover any open sores, including molluscum contagiosum, with a waterproof plaster before swimming to avoid spreading any infection to others and to prevent any other germs getting in.



24 hours after it has been treated with antibiotics.

Wash hands after touching the affected area – every time. And avoid sharing towels and flannels.

Be especially careful in children with eczema as the impetigo can spread rapidly.

Head lice


Straight away provided treatment has been started.

Tying long hair back is helpful, as is wet combing to detect and treat the lice early.

The lice can be treated with medicated lotions and shampoos. Ask the pharmacist for advice. Remember to treat other members of the family who have live lice detected too!



From the 4th day after the rash started but always check with your doctor first.

Catching coughs in a tissue, throwing it away and washing hands afterwards.

Measles is a serious disease that can make people very poorly, especially babies, pregnant women etc. It is preventable by a vaccine. It is a notifiable disease, which means you have to tell the doctor if you think you or your child have measles. He/she will tell the authorities so they can monitor and control any outbreak.


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The lookbook on



have vivid memories from when I was a child, of the days when my parents were preparing to throw a dinner party and I would be allowed to perch on a chair next to my mother and watch her making beautiful cakes and desserts for the evening ahead. I was always fascinated to watch the methodical measuring, weighing and mixing and was given small tasks if I promised to control my greedy paws,

so that I might feel I had had contributed in a small way to the glorious end result. Eventually I was allowed to try simple cake and biscuit recipes myself and proved to be an extremely enthusiastic, and extraordinarily messy, cook! In those days my childish haste and overexcitement would lead to some interesting accidents such as the imaginative substitution of semolina powder when AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine


shredded coconut was called for, or the inexplicable trapping of both of my hands in the rotors of an electric whisk! In more recent years I discovered the joy of an afternoon (or on some occasions the wee small hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep) spent in the kitchen with some music on, honing and tweaking recipes, experimenting with my own flavour combinations and learning new techniques for decoration and baking. Last year my husband and chief cake sampler declared that his waistline was suffering and suggested that it could be wise to offer my creations to a broader audience, and since then I have been fortunate enough to create beautiful cupcakes and novelty cakes for a wide range of people for all occasions including weddings, baby showers, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries etc. Among the most exciting challenges are those when I am asked me for something very specific which requires research, experimenting and testing, or sourcing of a particular ingredient or piece of equipment. For example, recently someone wanted a rich chocolate cake in the shape of a whisky bottle so I spent a lot of time working on a well-proportioned template and considering the best way to build the cake to make it look as life-like as possible – the preparation was worth it and I was pleased with the end result. I also enjoy


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making cakes for children, and spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours recently making quantities of black icing for the covering of a decadent red velvet Mickey Mouse cake, and others building sugar paste racing cars for a chocolate race track cake, and princesses for a light strawberry and vanilla cake. It’s very exciting to see the reaction of children when they see their special cake in the shape of their favourite character. Wedding cakes are also a favourite of mine and I even created my own. We wanted something simple so I used spring colours, with a different flavour for each layer - zesty lemon for the bottom and my favourite spiced carrot cake for the top - and decorated it with floral stencilling and sugar flowers. Most of my friends and family thought I was crazy to attempt to make my own cake at a time when we had visiting family members and lots of pre-wedding preparation to co-ordinate but I enjoyed every moment of it. It’s not just about special occasion cakes though. I am developing quite a range of cutters and templates to create personalised sugar coated cookies in different flavours which are also proving popular as wedding favours as they are easily customised and are a bit special. Over Christmas I took a batch of festive spiced biscuits which I covered in coloured sugar paste and stencilled, to a party and subsequently received lots of requests from people

who were visiting friends or relatives over the festive season and wanted to take something a bit different to the usual chocolates and flowers. I am regularly working on different flavours for cupcakes too. My favourite at the moment are coconut and cherry which are wonderful with a cup of tea, but I definitely have a weakness for my Nutella special and Peach Melba flavours. All my products are from England or Switzerland in order to guarantee the best quality and variety. In fact I recently bought a set of wafer butterflies with leopard print pattern for cupcakes and am dying for an excuse to use them. I am also slightly obsessed with muffins and have a batch of blueberry and banana whole-wheat in the oven as I type which we eat for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. It’s important to maintain ones energy levels for all this baking!

LEARN MORE: Visit Cammie’s website and Facebook page for more information: or CammieLovesCake

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Geneva English School is a vibrant friendly primary school for children aged 3 to 11 years in a truly international environment. We provide a balanced high quality English language education based on the English National Curriculum, including French lessons throughout the week for all pupils.

Why Choose GES? •

Happy children in a dynamic school community

Caring, family school offering individual attention to each pupil


English National Curriculum and outstanding academic standards

At the forefront of educational excellence in the Geneva area


Wide choice of extra-curricular activities and after-school care

Well-established school with an outstanding reputation

Inspirational setting overlooking Lake Geneva

Strong French department

Daily bus service


Stephen Baird, Headmaster

Geneva English School 36 Route de Malagny, CP 40, 1294 Genthod / Geneva, Switzerland + 41 (0) 22 755 18 55

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arbon fibre frame, electronic shifting groupset, clincher tires, clipless pedals – the modern adult racing bike is a gift of choice, technology and promised enjoyment. The menu of a good restaurant isn’t much different. Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck offers roast fois gras with gooseberry, confit kombu and crab biscuit, as well as salmon poached in a liquorice gel with artichokes and a vanilla mayonnaise. Yum! Let’s not mention the array of pumps, heels, boots, boats, slippers, sneakers, loafers and clogs with which we dress our feet. We adults, with our aging bodies and dulled taste buds, lavish all kind of luxuries upon ourselves. So why should we, as caring parents, accept less for the bouncing, young, deserving future generations we are currently rearing? A recent trip to buy a bike for a five year old revealed a choice of two colours in two frame sizes manufactured from a back-breaking metal and rust-attracting chain. That was it. And shoe shopping is an equally uninspiring task: variations on a trainer theme.


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It was precisely this upsidedown logic that spurred Katherine Gubbins, founder of Goodness Gracious Foods, to act. A long-time devotee of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine, Katherine was already living the axiom we are what we eat. Add to this the endless energy of a campaigner, the mind of an entrepreneur and the birth of a first child, and you have the perfect breeding ground for a new company. As a new mum, Katherine cooked her child only the most natural of meals – organic apple puree…with nothing else; bananas with plums and quinoa…with nothing added. She realised one day that she was spending too many hours in the kitchen, cooking up perfect baby meals while her daughter played by herself on her activity mat. When she went to the supermarket looking for tasty, interesting and nutritious foods that could supplement some of her home cooking, she returned empty handed. Her daughter was a very discerning customer: she wanted tasty food, not inedible shopbought, traditional, vegetable purees. Why should she, Katherine, be able to choose from so many tastes and ingredients when her child was faced with consuming bland pastes containing salt, sugar, additives and gluten straight from a jar? It quickly became clear that something had to be done – so Goodness Gracious Foods was born. AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



Goodness Gracious is not just a company that makes kid purees in pouches. Katherine has a philosophy; she’s on a mission. And that mission is marching forward. Today, Goodness Gracious is the only brand that has been accredited by actionsantÊ - a certification of stringent standards set by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Goodness Gracious produces tasty, 100% organic foods from recipes based on the 5,000 year old Indian traditional health system of Ayurveda. All its foods are conceived of at home, home cooked, tested by young children and designed to introduce new grains, flavours and spices that can benefit adults and parents, kids and babies alike. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain no salt, sugar, additives or gluten. That might sound obsessive, but why would you give your child less than you give yourself ? In a world where obesity has grown to become a bigger killer than hunger, what we eat has become a matter of life and death.

For more information on Goodness Gracious Foods, visit its website and online store at http://www. or join its community on Facebook at GoodnessGraciousFoods


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Information Technology Solutions

La Côte International School

We have a strong and positive culture which places the child at the centre of learning and where there is an acknowledgement and celebration of achievement, of mutual respect and tolerance, of care and support.

With our proven high academic standards, HIGH PERFORMANCE LEARNING AND THE DESIRE FOR EXCELLENCE are at the heart of our educational philosophy.

With our highly qualified and outstanding team of educators we provide our students with the skills and attributes that will equip them for the modern world and the challenges of the future. La Côte International School acknowledges and values the essential role that par-

OUR INTERNATIONAL CURRICULUM is built up of the following elements: 

Pre-school with new flexible hours

English National Curriculum

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

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French language learning is an essential

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part of all our programmes.

their children.

High Expectations High Standards High Performance High Achievement

Currently in Vich, opening a brand new purpose-built campus in Aubonne in September 2014

Please contact Sabine Luethy at : or call us on 022 823 2626

Helping students to be the best they can be.



utumn is a great time of year in Geneva – the weather can be nice and sunny and there’s lots of festivals and activities going on. The leaves turn a stunning shade of orange making mountain trips worthwhile! Here’s our pick of what to do: *Don’t miss!

KEEP UP TO DATE: Check out and sign up free at for the latest events and news from around the region including ideas for half term! Tips for days out, excursions to the Mountains and Spas and all the latest festivals. ©2013


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OCTOBER British Classic Car Show; 5 October, Morges A gathering of over 1500 classic cars in a lovely setting; 10 – 5pm, Free. *International Chocolatiers and Chocolate Fair; 5 – 6 October You won’t want to miss the tastings, lectures and workshops for kids! Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about chocolate. For instance, you can learn which wine to drink with which type of chocolate, the working life of cocoa-planters, and much more. Watch some demonstrations by the best chocolate makers! Buy your tickets in advance and make sure to reserve a spot for your kids for the workshops! Bâtiment des Forces Motrices. http://www. Animatou: 5 – 13 October International animated movie festival with workshops and films for all ages! Short movies, as well as some premieres and documentaries in smaller cinemas, (Grütli, Spoutnik, Bio Cinema, Scalaand Nord-Sud) and larger ones, like Pathé. In their headquarters in Les

Grottes, the festival organises workshops, concerts and more! Check out the programme to see the times and the venues; *Le Jour de la Nuit: 12 October An event in neighbouring France to increase awareness about light pollution and the biodiversity of skies. In Ferney Voltaire, you can join the night-walk to the Swiss countryside. The meetingpoint is in front of the Ferney swimming pool at 8pm, and the walk is 1.5 hr long. In Prevessin-Moens, you can watch the stars with a mobile planetarium! Meeting-point is at the Parc du Château at 7:30pm. * Marche de l’Espoir, charity walk: 13 October Terre des Hommes organizes this great event every year. It’s a short and fun walk to do with your friends and kids. Going from Pâquis to the botanical gardens and back, as many times as you want, is all you have to do; Last year this took place in order to help street kids, orphans and earthquake victims in Haiti. A lot of schools are taking part in this walk, but you can register as an individual, too. You need to find sponsors


who will donate money for each tour you walk (or you can sponsor yourself as well – after all, it’s for a good cause!). You can sign-up online, or on-thespot on the day of the event. The more the merrier, and the more funds raised! This event takes place in all weather conditions from 11am. *Jazz Contreband: 3 – 26 October Concerts are all over the region, and are spread between 18 different venues. Concerts are not only taking place in Geneva, but also in Nyon and Annecy. Luff: 16 – 20 October Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival. Concerts, movies, exhibitions, and workshops. This is the perfect excuse to go to Lausanne! Halloween: October 31st There are many Halloween parties and Pumpkin festivals in the area for all age groups, check our website, for the latest listings.

NOVEMBER *Geneva International Film Festival; 31 October – 7 November Festival tous écrans: Another great film festival, using all possible types of screen to show fiction in an innovative way (TV, cinema, mobile phones, web, video games). Thanks to all the festival’s partners, tickets are free for

all the screenings! It’s best to book in advance for a majority of the projections, however. There will also be some lectures, some debates, workshops and a family day! Check the website for more information; Wine tasting, Cave Ouvertes: 2- 3 November Local winemakers will be delighted to explain to you what the new wine “bourru” is, and the whole process of fermentation. Walk through the vineyards of Luins, near Gland, and enjoy some food and music along the way! 15 CHF to purchase a glass and taste wine, in all of the wineries. Shuttles are available from Gland train station. php Les Automnales, Autumn Fair; 8 -17 November Not only a good way to find out what’s new in the shopping world -and maybe find your Christmas gifts – but also lots of activities and shows. 3 main topics for the exhibition: housing, leisure and cooking. Check out the latest innovations! The fair includes lots of demonstrations and fun activities: cooking workshops, after-work drinks with DJs, a treasure hunt, a running race, circus and theatre.

* Latin American film festival: 15 November – 1 December 15th edition of this great festival; Also in October and November the ski fairs in Haute Savoie, France* with significant discounts off skis and clothing. Check for details.

DECEMBER Course de l’Escalade: December 7; More than running, it’s a popular event: groups, families and schools participate. Whether you just watch or run yourself, don’t miss the costumed race (Marmite) at the end of the day. Parc des Bastions. Remember to sign up in November! Fête de l’Escalade: December 13 – 15; A celebration of the victory of the Swiss over the Duke of Savoy in 1602. The Fête includes a parade with 60 horses and 800 people in costumes on Sunday, guided tours of the Old Town where you can enter some secret passages, muskets firing, smaller parades with music all weekend, special markets, accompanied by lovely mulled wine. Also a great opportunity to break and eat the chocolate marmite! More historical facts on the importance of this event and the full program of the fête are on the website; AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine




e are usually blessed with wonderful weather in Geneva and our children enjoy all the benefits of the lake in the sunshine and the slopes in the crisp snow. When it rains it can be difficult to find activities to keep them occupied. Here are ISIS magazines’ top ten suggestions:

1. Natural History Museum Musee d’histoire naturelle, Route de Malagnou 1, 1208 Genève. Tel: +41 22 418 63 00 Admission: free This animal paradise provides hours of fun for children, including exhibitions of dinosaurs, evolution, animals, birds, fish, volcanoes, planets and much more. It is a great place to learn a bit more about the ecological history of Switzerland and its indigenous


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species. There is also a family friendly cafeteria and a special kids area.

2. MAMCO - ‘Little Rendezvous’ Tours Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10 1205 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 320 61 22 agenda.html Admission: free Geneva’s museum of modern art offers a host of interactive and entertaining tours of 45 minutes for children aged 5-10 accompanied by an adult. The tours are based around themes such as ‘My body from head to toe’ and are given in French, providing a fun way for international children to improve their language skills. They take place on Wednesdays and Sundays.

3. Yatouland Yatouland Vernier, 22 Ch. des Batailles, 1214 Vernier/ Genève. Tel: +41 (0)22 341 40 00 Admission: Fr. 8 - / child under 3, Fr. 15 - / child age 3 and over, Free for accompanying adults Yatouland is great for highenergy children. The company have rapidly expanded to a number of different parks, and the best one for rainy days is the indoor recreation park (for children aged 0 to 10) in Vernier, complete with bouncy castles, multi-storey ‘fun frames’, trampolines, video games and a toddlers’ area. There is a café area for parents.

4. Vallorbe Caves Grottes de Vallorbe et “Trésor des Fées”, 1337 Vallorbe. +41 (0)21 843 25 83 grottes_vallorbe These caves carved out of limestone were hollowed out by the river Orbe over centuries. They boast some of the most beautiful stalactites, columns and limestone concretions around. Children will love the Fairy Treasure Trove, a collection of over 250 minerals.


5. Acacias/Carouge (Piscine des Vernets) Street Hans Wilsdorf 4, 1227 Les Acacias Tel: +41 22 418 40 00 http://www.ville-geneve. ch/plan-ville/sports/ piscine-vernets Every Saturday from 15h to 18h and Sundays from 9h to 12h, the 25 metre pool and wading pool are reserved for children’s’ water games. There are several different sized indoor pools (and outdoor pools for the warmer periods) and a restaurant to re-fuel afterwards.

6. Espace Junior Palexpo’s Halle 7 Espace Junior is another fantastic indoor play area for children aged 2-12. It comes through Geneva each winter, from early October to midJanuary. It contains bouncy castles, race tracks, scooters and tricycles.

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7. Bibliothèque des Minoteries, Bibliothèque des Eaux-Vives and Bibliothèque des Pâquis. These public libraries organise wonderful storytelling and other creative sessions for children of different ages. They offer a number of bilingual (and English) sessions too. Previous events for children have included Alice in Wonderland, calligraphy, smiley emoticons, and other fun games. Look at their websites for full schedules.

8. La Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory visits 1636 Broc (FR). Tel: +41 (0)26 921 59 60 Admission: children free, adults CHF 10. Visit this real-life chocolate


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factory, make you very own chocolates, walk through the history of chocolate making, watch the history of Cailler in their cinema and of course, stock up on delicious chocolates for the journey home.

sporting events are hosted – these are great fun to go and watch. The rinks are open to the public from October to March and it also has a restaurant and spectating areas. The Genève-Servette Hockey Club and Club skaters Geneva GC also offer courses from beginner level (although these can be expensive). The rink also plays host to a number of indoor events, including the Imperial Chinese Circus on Ice (Cirque Imperial De Chine Sur Glace) this December.

9. Vernets Skating Rink (Patinoires des Vernets) Rue Hans Wilsdorf 4, Geneva, 1227 Tel: +41 22 418 4000 http://www.ville-geneve. ch/plan-ville/sports/ patinoire-vernets/ Admission: Adults 6 Fr-/ Children 2 Fr-/ (season passes can be bought) The Vernets consists of an outdoor smaller rink and a larger indoor rink, where major

10. English language cinema Catch an English language film in the city centre at Pathé Rex (the ground floor of Confederation Centre, by BelAir Cité stop), Pathé Balaxert (in Balaxert mall) or Pathé Rialto (near Gare Cornavin). To check which language the film will be shown in, ensure there is an ‘O’ or ‘VO’ in the general information – this stands for ‘Original’ and ‘Version Original’.

International school

English curriculum

Small classes

A-Level Programme

Personal care

Affordable fees

The British School of Geneva is situated in an exceptional, modern setting, 2 minutes from the motorway and just a 10-minute drive from the United Nations. Today, BSG students represent over 40 nationalities and we are proud that our alumni have been accepted in universities in the UK, Europe, North America, Asia and Australia to study their subjects of choice. Our highly-qualified and experienced teachers achieve excellence in our Primary, Secondary and A-Level sections, challenging and guiding students through the coherent programme of the

English National Curriculum.

Your child will benefit from the nurturing environment and individual attention that a small school can offer best.

Schedule a visit to experience our unique qualities for yourself.

Av. de Châtelaine 95A • 1219 Châtelaine • T: 022 795 75 10 •



lobalisation, economic crises, decreased earning power, high-speed technology and dynamic employment markets are the markers of today’s world. The traditional model of a university degree followed by a stable job and a steady progression up the career ladder has become outdated. Simply put, for today’s generation, the future seems really daunting. Students graduating from top universities often struggle for months to find a decent job. Unpaid internships abound and often amount to nothing even after the six-month sacrifice. How can we teach our children to create their own opportunities? Here are 10 lessons from entrepreneurs and seasoned parents on how to improve the confidence levels of our children, turn them into leaders and help them create successful lives through entrepreneurial education and opportunities.


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Teaching your children how to set and accomplish their goals can be a fun and highly effective activity. Studies show that written goals are over 80% more likely to be achieved. How: Ask your children to define and write down their top five goals. In order to increase effectiveness and feeling of accomplishment, make sure that each goal is S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Next write down five actions necessary to accomplish these goals. Don’t forget to put them up somewhere where you and your children can easily see them. Encourage and support your children in reaching their defined goals and be sure to enjoy the rewards together.


Many people never meet their full potential because they fail to recognise opportunity. Teaching your children to seek out opportunities and seize them will directly contribute to their level of future success. How: Praise your children for pointing out small problems or setbacks in their lives that cause them distress: from losing unsaved essays to not being able to reach items on a high shelf. Brainstorm solutions on how to resolve what’s troubling them. Turning crisis into opportunity teaches children to focus on creating positive solutions rather than the problem itself. Every problem has a solution so rather than accepting life as fact, teach children that they can always have an impact. This habit will allow them to develop profitable ideas in their future businesses.

An atHome anecdote: A student from La Chataigneraie recently signed up to atHome offering his IT services. His parents and parents’ friends were always asking him to help out with their computer problems. Things that were simple


and obvious for him were causing others a lot of hassle, such as struggling to download photos from their phones to the computer. Instead of seeing these constant requests as a problem, he decided to get paid for his skills and signed up to www. Something that had the potential to be a nuisance instead became a valuable and profitable skill for both him and his atHome clients.


The ability to sell is an invaluable life skill. It applies to every human interaction whether in a business sphere or over the course of a career. From selling products and services to customers to raising capital from investors, this skill is vital to the success of any business. How: Encourage your children to start with small projects like selling their old toys, starting a lemonade stand, or offering their pet-sitting services. Let them price their products, sell to customers, and facilitate the transactions when sales are made.

An atHome anecdote: I was so impressed when one of our enterprising babysitters offered to bring along several arts and crafts

activities to keep kids busy in a fun and interesting way. She worked out the cost of materials and added a small fixed cost to the hourly sitter rate for parents who were interested. Parent’s loved it! Adding that little bit of extra service just goes to show that Patricia already knew a thing or two about sales and customer value.


This is one area that we all could use help with. Teaching children about money at an early age will give kids a solid grounding in finance, something that schools often don’t give enough attention to. How: Give your children the opportunity to earn their own money through chores, their own small business or helping you in your business. Educate them about investing to show them how their money could be used to create more money in the future. Help them set up a bank account and let them learn how to budget their income.

An atHome anecdote: Pet-sitting, babysitting, tutoring or teaching a new skill... let your children offer their skills to their community to earn their pocket money. atHome makes it easy for everyone to learn how to manage

their mini-enterprise by providing them with all the tools necessary to manage their own business. These include setting their prices, managing their schedules and appointments and promoting their own services.


Teaching kids about marketing is a great way to help them attract customers to their future business. As we all know, without customers, even the greatest business will fail. This is a very beneficial skill to learn while young. How: Motivate your children to start analysing the messages behind marketing materials like billboards, promotional banners in front of businesses, printed advertisements in magazines, and television/ radio commercials. Ask them what catches their attention about the message and see if they can identify the meaning behind the logo, tagline, and “call to action.” Encourage them to create their own marketing materials for their business ideas.

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An atHome anecdote: While reviewing a new listing one evening, I smiled as I read, “If I cannot fix the problem you get your money back! As with many teenagers, I am doing this to get some extra pocket money but also to meet more people and know more people in my community.” We loved that this teenager’s listing was so authentic, honest and customer-focused. He even promoted his service on his Facebook page. Marketing one’s skills is important and atHome offers all sorts of fun ideas and tools that your children can use to get the word out about the services they are offering.


In school we’re taught that failure is bad. In the entrepreneurial arena, failure can be a great thing if a positive lesson is learned. Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich believes that, “Every failure carries with it a seed of equal or


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greater benefit.” Allowing your children to fail will force them to create new ways to accomplish their goals and learn from their mistakes. This will lead to confident children who know how to persevere when times are tough. How: This lesson is simple. When your children fail, instead of punishing them, try discussing which factors lead to the failure and brainstorm ways to prevent it from happening again in the future. Always try to find the “learning lesson” in every adverse situation and encourage your children to NEVER give up.

An atHome anecdote: During my studies, I used to tutor IB and IGCSE students. I figured that I had written so many exams that I

knew a few tricks about studying efficiently for exams. The problem was that it took me so much time to find, manage and tutor the students, that I eventually stopped tutoring altogether. Perhaps I failed as a freelance tutor but I didn’t give up. This personal experience is one of the reasons we built atHome. We

wanted to offer people a platform that removed the hassle of finding and managing customers so that they could focus on what they do best. We now have a growing list of university students who able to focus on their tutoring and share their vast knowledge without wasting time on admin. The other bonus is of course that, in case your child is struggling at school as we have some very bright minds that can offer your child the extra support to excel in his studies. Have a browse on www.


Because of the popularity of social media and text messaging, most children today tend to be terrible at face-to-face and telephone communication. Successful businesses require that people actually speak to one another. Teaching your children to communicate effectively will give them a winning edge in business and in their personal relationships. How: First, lead by example. Teach your children to be polite and respectful. Most importantly, practice maintaining eye contact when speaking in person.


When using the telephone, teach your children to speak slowly and clearly. Another useful activity is to practice communicating with your children in e-mails. Don’t let them abbreviate words and phrases and encourage them to write grammatically correct sentences that flow together clearly and logically. Explain to them the importance of always proofreading their written communications to check that their message is conveyed clearly.

An atHome anecdote: Good grammar is important: One of our service providers advertised her service as “Cleaning women”, we were pretty sure she was offering to clean homes rather than members of the female gender and helped correct the mistake before any misunderstanding could happen. Here at Service atHome, we make it our job to help our service providers in conveying their messages as clearly and professionally as possible and firmly believe in the power of proofreading to avoid any ambiguous situations.

THE ART OF GIVING BACK CREATES HAPPINESS Why start a business if it doesn’t support a greater cause? It’s important for children to understand the importance of helping others. It’s an attribute that will allow them to stay humble during periods of great success and will help them realise that a successful business provides benefits to more than just its owner. People that contribute to the success of others live happy and content lives.

why we built Service atHome. We wanted to give people the opportunity to share their skills so that those looking for help could easily find the best people to assist them. It’s about “living a richer life” for all and giving back is part of that. We’re a community and as such, we love organising events and workshops to empower, connect and help people become better at what they do.


How: When brainstorming business ideas with your children, ask them to choose a charity or special cause to support with a portion of the income that they generate. Explain the concept that contributing to improving the lives of others benefits society as a whole.

An atHome anecdote: Improving the lives of others is

Who doesn’t want their children to be independent and successful? Entrepreneurial thinking shows kids how to depend on themselves for their own success which in turn leads to well-rounded adults and future leaders. How: The next time your children ask for money to buy their favourite toy or gadget, ask them to brainstorm ways to create the money through entrepreneurship. This will AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



inspire creative thinking and get the entrepreneurial juices flowing.

An atHome anecdote: If your child wants a new toy and his pet-sitting or gardening service is still a bit slow, encourage him to experiment by lowering the price, updating his photo or rewriting the description. Simple actions can improve his ranking, visibility and bookings. He will learn that by finding ways to make his business successful, he can achieve the things he wants.


turning them into leaders at an early age. This results in better opportunities, higher income and improved self-confidence later in their lives. How: Give your children the opportunity to lead their friends in fun activities like outdoor sports, book clubs, music practice or small business projects. You can also encourage them to propose toasts and small speeches at family dinners and birthday parties, providing them with invaluable experience in public speaking!

An atHome anecdote: Launching a company from the ground up has taught me one key skill “roll up your sleeves and get it done”. One evening after

dirty and doing what needs to be done. We strive for excellence in everything we do and are proud to be empowering others to become leaders in the services they offer.

ABOUT SERVICE AT HOME: Lindy Abittan, along with her busines partner Itamar Weiss decided to create a Service at Home (aka atHome) to transform today’s home services market Users can browse, book and enjoy reviewed service providers quickly and easily. For the first time, they are bringing trust to this market and expanding it beyond the word of mouth network which is the predominant way to find quality service providers today. Their vision is to enable people to get more out of life by leveraging the pool of available underused talents in our community.

In school, children are generally taught to go with the flow and follow the rules. They are often programmed to learn and memorise facts instead of becoming independent thinkers. Entrepreneurship forces children to think “outside of the box” and create unique solutions,


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spending the afternoon outside the conservatoire of Geneva in an effort to recruit music teachers we decided to get their attention by attempting a duet with the harmonica and violin. My dad asked me “Don’t you get embarrassed doing these things?”. I guess if I did, I probably wouldn’t be here. It’s all about thinking outside the box, getting your hands provides both users and service providers specifically designed tools like online booking, online payment, calendar management, social verification and others. Listing is free; a commission from both sides only when a successful transaction occurs.

Browse Great Profiles Read Authentic Reviews Book online Enjoy!



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40 rue de Contamines, Genève, 1206




or more than ten years, the Geneva Red Cross Youth has been devoted to giving young volunteers aged 16 to 30 the opportunity to serve the community by helping those in need, acting in total accordance with the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, volunteering, unity and universality. Together, these seven principles make up the core of the strong and worldwide family that are Red Cross volunteers. Yet the story of the Red Cross is much older, beginning in 1863 thanks to the efforts of Genevan citizen Henry Dunant. On a business trip to meet Emperor Napoleon III, Dunant accidentally stumbled upon the devastation following the bloody Battle of Solferino in the Italian countryside. There he found wounded soldiers of either side, lying helplessly about on the battlefield, with little


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or no medical assistance. At that time, military medicine, ambulances and first aid were virtually inexistent, and these soldiers were left to starve, bleed and die in atrocious conditions, and without any comfort or help. Faced with such horror, Dunant decided to help as best he could, mobilising the locals with the shout of « Tutti fratelli » (« We are all brothers »), in an effort to soothe the suffering all around. Back in Geneva, he wrote about his experiences in a book entitled A Memory of Solferino, which shook society down to its very foundations and pushed for greater aid to the sick and wounded in battle. Together with some of his fellow citizens, Dunant called on governments to better protect their wounded soldiers, laying the foundations for later international humanitarian law in the shape of the Geneva Conventions. He also promoted the creation of national aid committees to assist sick and wounded soldiers, which became the Red Cross societies. Today, the Red Cross family consists of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which intervenes primarily in armed conflicts throughout the world to protect the wounded, prisoners of war and civilians, and attempt to safeguard the Geneva Conventions ; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC), which coordinates aid between sister Red Cross societies and provides assistance during

natural disasters ; and the 187 individual national Red Cross societies, which provide humanitarian aid within their country. Amongst these is the Swiss Red Cross, of which the Geneva Red Cross is a local branch. Inside this local branch, the Geneva Red Cross Youth acts as the focal point from which young people in Geneva work towards the universal Red Cross goal: indiscriminately helping those who suffer, or alleviate those suffering due to poverty. In order to do so, the Geneva Red Cross Youth brings together volunteers of various ages, nationalities, languages and backgrounds, and gives today’s youth the chance to make a difference in the individual lives of the needy, as well as help the community as a whole in bettering the lives of the many. More specifically, the Geneva Red Cross Youth volunteer program gives you the opportunity to meet a whole range of people, be they children, elderly people, other volunteers, or Geneva citizens in general.

WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Whether you have two hours of your time to give per week, or two hours per month, you can do something. It is by doing small actions that you can make a big difference. Here are some of the many activities we need your help for:


• For those who speak French fluently, have patience and devotion, and enjoy the company of children, we are seeking volunteers for participation in activities ranging from after-school care, to homework assistance, to visits at the Geneva children’s hospital. • For those who speak fluent French, care for the wellbeing and happiness of the elderly, and would like to preserve them from loneliness, we encourage you to join our program of weekly visits to old folks for a few hours of pleasant chats and great company. • For those with busy schedules who wish to help but have only little spare time, we organise one-

off fundraising activities throughout the year during which volunteers can participate for as little or as much time as they desire to collect funds for our afterschool care centres for underprivileged children. Our coming-soon activities are our annual bingo that will take place on Sunday November 3rd and our gift-wrapping campaigns in some of our partner stores (Nature & Découverte and Payot) in December. Finally, for those students passionate about social work and philanthropy, and who choose to take part in the aforementioned activities with children and the elderly, we offer free training sessions in the key areas of our work:

• Basic training (obligatory for all long-term volunteers) which teaches the history, principles and values of the Red Cross Movement, as well as information on its volunteers and main actors. • Teacher training for those who wish to teach future volunteers the Basic Training Program, and which is ideal for any students interested in a teaching or pedagogical career. • A Diversity Training Program which centers on the four broad domains of communication, cultural identity, conflict resolution and tolerance. This training also provides good preliminary skills for students wishing to pursue AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



careers in diplomacy, social studies, mediation or communication. • Young Leader Training for those wishing to invest themselves more fully in the Geneva Red Cross Youth, or who want to learn about project management, group leadership or fundraising. This set of skills will also come in handy for future studies in business management or politics. Last but not least, volunteering for the Geneva Red Cross Youth also opens up possibilities of working closely with other Red Cross organisms such as the ICRC or IFRC. Volunteering is at the basis of the Movement that is the Red Cross. Without its volunteers, every National Society wouldn’t be as strong and powerful as they are now. By acting locally, and trying to give a positive response to local suffering, the Geneva Red Cross Youth gives priority to projects dedicated to disadvantaged children, children living in centres for asylum seekers, and isolated elders. It is the combination of all the local and national initiatives that make the Movement of the Red Cross the most important humanitarian network worldwide. Gabriela, 17 years old, is one of our volunteers from the International School of Geneva – La Grande Boissière Campus, who kindly gave some of her time for the Geneva Red Cross Youth.


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Her participation began due to the International Baccalaureate requirements and she chose to dedicate her time to accompanying the elderly, visiting a retirement home every two weeks. « I loved it so much that I just wanted to go spend some time with the people there. I had a lot of fun every time », she remembers fondly. Not only did Gabriela make new friends through volunteering, but she also learned more about herself: « This experience was very useful for me because it showed me that I really want to study Psychology ». Besides guiding her in her choice of future studies, the Geneva Red Cross Youth experience also showed Gabriela the importance of volunteering in bringing people together and setting a good example for others to follow. « I think volunteers are very important because they allow things to get done, their help is very necessary » she concludes. Gabriela’s experience is but one of many to be had, and if her story appeals to you, come join our team here at the Geneva Red Cross Youth. All in all, volunteering with us gives students a unique opportunity to meet new people of all ages, participate in fulfilling experiences, learn a wide range of skills that better prepare them for the future, and, ultimately, make new lifelong friends.

PERSONAL PROJECTS (ENCADRÉ) Want to help with your own personal project? The Geneva Red Cross Youth is also open to any student suggestions or fundraising projects. Only last year, four students from the International School of Geneva – La Grande Boissière Campus organised a photography exhibition at the NEST POP-UP gallery in Geneva’s old town, displaying photos from around the world. They managed to raise the large sum of 2000 Swiss francs, which they generously donated entirely to the Geneva Red Cross Youth. We thank them warmly for this wonderful project organised by young people, for young people. Have any ideas of your own? We’ll be happy to hear your thoughts!

CONTACT THE RED CROSS: Croix-Rouge Genevoise 9 route des Acacias CP 288 – 1211 Genève 4 Tel. 022 304 04 25




or many people Switzerland evokes images of beautiful lakes and mountains, precision timepieces from watches to cuckoo clocks - hence the reliably punctual trains - and contented cows producing tasty cheese (with and without holes) and chocolate in every conceivable shape and flavour. However, it’s rare that anyone from outside the country spontaneously mentions its wines, even though the vineyards in some regions have been in production since Roman times.


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In the grand scheme of things, Switzerland represents less than half of one percent of global wine production. But, when it comes to wine consumption, each person in Switzerland drinks on average 38 litres of wine every year. This easily beats the levels in most other countries such as Australia and Germany at 25, UK and Holland at 21 or USA and Canada at 10. What is more, virtually all of the wine produced in Switzerland is consumed domestically, leaving very little available for export. In fact, the small scale and fragmented structure of the

local wine industry and the relative obscurity of many of the grape varieties, not to mention the consistent strength of the Swiss Franc, are further reasons for the lack of any concerted export drive. As a result, Swiss wines rank as not only one of the country’s best-kept secrets, but also something of a mystery for those who come to live and work here. In place of familiar grape varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon you are more likely to find Chasselas, Petite Arvine and Gamaret, typically produced


in limited amounts by winemakers in the village where you live. It may come as a slight surprise to learn that red wine production slightly exceeds white wine. Every canton in the confederation produces wine but two cantons – Valais and Vaud - dominate the wine scene. Most producers grow a wide range of different grape varieties to cater for various tastes, especially since imports of foreign wines were strictly controlled until the mid 1990s. The historical dependency on the Chasselas grape variety also encouraged many producers to broaden the range of varieties they offered. This single variety covers just under half the country’s vineyards and accounts for almost two-thirds of total production. One other canton, Italian-speaking Ticino south of the Alps, merits a mention. It is renowned for specialising in Merlot red wine whose quality, while variable, keeps improving. Some winemakers even produce a rather interesting white Merlot where the wine is not coloured by the dark skins of the grapes. Good value is not always that easy to find as prices (at least for quality wines) tend to be driven up by relatively high costs of production due to local wage rates and often steep sites where mechanisation is not an option. But the alternative is to miss out on some genuinely unique and often surprising wines that you will simply not come across anywhere else on the planet.

Here is a handy reference to several grape varieties that can be easily found and are worth trying:

WHITE WINES Chasselas The ideal aperitif and perfect partner with cheese fondue and raclette, Chasselas grows in abundance all the way from Geneva, where it can be called Perlan, to the Valais where it bears its local name of Fendant. Along the way it dominates the stunning steep slopes of the Lavaux overlooking Lake Geneva, one of the few vineyard areas in the world that UNESCO has declared a World Heritage site. By nature Chasselas is a fairly neutral wine with light aromas and flavours. But the high level of acidity gives it a refreshing quality and also helps to cut through the fat of the local cheese dishes. There are variations in taste reflecting the local changes in soil and climate and the more notable examples manage to deliver more weight and character. It is worth seeking out the small number of wines labeled Premier Grand Cru from areas like Mont-surRolle, Chardonne and Yvorne as they are truly outstanding expressions of Chasselas and worth the extra price. Other good food pairings include freshwater fish such as ‘filet de perche’ and trout. Petite Arvine This variety grows almost exclusively in the Valais and produces elegant and, in some

cases, quite intense wines. Its natural acidity brings freshness and a certain tension to the wine with its citrus aromas and distinctive notes of grapefruit and mineral saltiness. Petite Arvine (sometimes called simply Arvine) exists as a dry wine and also, if the grapes are left to shrivel on the vines and harvested later in the year, as medium-sweet (‘mi-flétri’) and delicious sweet (‘flétri’) wines. The dry versions pair well with seafood, shellfish and saltwater fish dishes. The sweeter versions make a good match for foie gras, blue cheeses and fruit desserts. Amigne You could rightly call this variety a genuine Swiss speciality as it is only planted in the Valais, where most of the vineyards are to be found in the single commune of Vétroz. Amigne produces rich dry and medium-dry wines with flavours of tangerine and apricot. Increasingly it is made as a full-bodied, voluptuous sweet wine with intense aromas of orange zest, honey and vanilla and smooth flavours of caramel that linger on the palate counter-balanced by a crisp acidity. The sweet wine is fabulous with foie gras, blue cheeses and fruit desserts while the dry and medium-dry wines go nicely with white meats and meaty fish dishes with creamy sauces as well as Asian cuisine. Other varieties, disguised by their local Swiss names, worth looking out for:

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• Johannisberg … aka Sylvaner as in Alsace and Germany • Ermitage … aka Marsanne as in the southern Rhône region of France • Malvoisie … aka Pinot Gris as in Alsace • Païen … aka Savagnin Blanc as in the French Jura

RED WINES Humagne Rouge This rustic wine is one of the Valaisan red wine specialities. It is well structured with aromas of smoke, leather and bark with black fruit flavours, vegetal notes and relatively high tannins. Humagne Rouge makes a great partner to hearty red meat dishes, all sorts of game, a traditional ‘assiette valaisanne’ of cold meats and and alpine cheeses. Cornalin Another variety that is more or less exclusive to the Valais, it receives regular plaudits for the quality of wine it produces. This deep-coloured wine exhibits aromas of black cherries and wild berries and is full-bodied with silky tannins. The best examples typically need a few years to age in bottle. This makes a good accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats, game dishes and cured meats. Gamaret Developed in Switzerland this variety is a crossing of grapes including Gamay. Its colour is an enticing deep purple and the wine delivers powerful aromas of blackberries and


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spices with rich tannins. Enjoy with rich or spicy meat dishes, terrines and charcuterie. It is worth adding that Garanoir, developed at the same time and in the same place, is a more fruity, less concentrated version of Gamaret. Diolinoir Another locally developed crossing of grapes, in this case including Pinot Noir, it can be found mainly in the Valais. It produces full-bodied barrel-aged wines with black fruit flavours, spicy notes and a deep, dark colour. This partners well with sweet and sour or spicy meat dishes. Other more familiar ‘international’ varieties worth looking out for: • Pinot Noir (also called Blauburgunder) … produced as a single varietal with some exceptional examples in the Grisons (close to Lichtenstein), it is frequently blended with Gamay to create a light style of wine known as Dôle (Valais) and Salvagnin (Vaud) • Syrah … does particularly well on the sunny slopes in the Valais around Fully and Chamoson near Martigny • Merlot … is most prevalent south of the Alps in Ticino where quality can vary though the best examples can come close to the opulence of a Pomerol (Bordeaux)


If you want recommendations for specific producers or want to learn more about the wines of Switzerland or the rest of the world please contact simon.hardy


Simon loves wine and knows an awful lot about it. He has been awarded the Diploma in Wines & Spirits, the top qualification at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in the UK, and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wines & Spirits in London. He is the founder of Fitting Wines.


We provide a range of personalised wine services in Switzerland to help you discover and enjoy greatquality and good-value wines from all countries and learn more about the world of wine. Our services are tailormade to your tastes, needs and budget – whether you are a novice or a connoisseur. Contact us at to receive your very own ‘Personal Taste Profile’™, exclusive to Fitting Wines.




oo difficult. Too many decisions. Too depressing. These are some of the reasons given for not having a will. For expats it can be even more daunting. Perhaps you are from the UK, married to an American, living in Switzerland and with a holiday home in Spain. Where to start? AUTUMN 2013 ISIS Magazine



The law has not kept up with the way we live now so there is no off-the-shelf solution. Although there have been attempts to standardise requirements for a valid will internationally, only a handful of countries have agreed this and not the UK, US, Switzerland or many others.

There are three main hurdles to overcome in each relevant country. The will must be recognised as a valid document. The heirs designated in the will must be entitled to inherit under the applicable succession law. The will should not result in unnecessary tax costs.

The task therefore is to look at the characteristics of all the countries relevant to your situation and put in place estate planning which covers all bases. Fortunately, with experience, there are some relatively straightforward ways to come up with a pragmatic solution.

The right will (or wills) lays the foundation of not only protecting the family wealth but ensuring that adequate arrangements are in place to support your spouse or children. A will appoints executors who will have the authority to deal with third parties such as banks, insurance companies and pension providers. The will

ensures that your heirs are provided for as you would want them to be, not according to the intestacy rules and it is possible to ensure that you benefit your heirs in the most tax efficient way possible. In some situations it may be advantageous to look at more complex planning such as the use of trusts, but this requires a detailed examination of your particular circumstances.

Bespoke legal services - Trusts - Wills and probate - Tax advice - Family law - Immigration - Real estate - Corporate and commercial - Dispute resolution

Geneva & London +41 (0)22 707 7050 For more information or an informal discussion please contact us.

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