So I am now 25, but I attended ISL (International School of Luxembourg) from the ages of 12-18. Moved over there with my family (Dad's job) from Boston, MA. My sister was 15 at the time of the move, so we are a pretty good sample for you.
I attended ISL but had a few friends at the European School. Our friend group was predominantly ISL students with a couple of ESL kids mixed in and that seemed but the normal ratio. Every American I knew in the country attended ISL, so that is where I would suggest you send them for the least amount of culture shock. The caveat obviously being the large cost difference between those two schools. ISL is much more of a North America/UK/Scandinavian centered type of school, where ESL is more of a central/eastern European student base. Does not like sound much of a difference but in terms of making friends, preparing for college in the US, sports/culture etc. it does make quite an impact. All the teachers at ISL are absolutely amazing and are super friendly and helpful and I have not heard the same for those at ESL.
The English section at the European School has grown immensely in the past 15 years or so. When I first arrived there in 2007, English was taught more of a second language at ESL and ISL was the only place that offered all classes in English first. That being said, the English section is now all taught in English. Mainly used to force European students who want to study in the UK English really well. It is not so much used for American, Canadian, English, Scottish etc. students. The only friends who were from the UK who were in the English section at ESL were born in Luxembourg to UK parents so going to the European School made sense as they already spoke French, German, English and Luxembourgish.
There is a lot of a community in ISL as most families have moved to Luxembourg from far away so naturally they cling to the school for their friends. This goes for the parents as well. all of my parents friends were friends of students of ISL. (side note: I would also recommend you join the American Women's Club in Luxembourg, really great way to meet other Moms from all kind of cultures, not just Americans). There are a lot more sporting events, musicals and has been historically an easier transition for students coming from further away. They do a really good job of making sure the entire family adjusts and integrates into the school community.
On our first day, our mom was freaking out about how our days would go. We were given a buddy who was from America and everyone in the grade is really eager to meet new people so they make sure you are never alone. Your buddy introduces you to new people, brings you to the classes, eats lunch with you etc. By the end of the day, I was beaming and had made several friends (same for my sister). That is not so much the case for the European school as the size of the school is so large it is more of a sink-swim situation. Language of the hallways is much different. Everyone converses in English (mostly) at ISL while at ESL, every culture segregates themselves into their own areas. So if you are American, there may not be that easy group to blend into.
In my experience, ISL is the better school to make sure the transition goes smoothly.
My email is [email protected], (I can give you my mom's email address as well if you would prefer that) if you would like to email me/her about any question you have.
Thank you so much, this is really helpful for the whole family. We are also moving from Boston! We are still considering the options, but this has certainly helped weigh out the advantages of each school... Thank you also for sharing your email, I might take you up on that!
I thought that reply sounded familiar! Both of my kids (one replied above) attended ISL, graduated from there and went on to attend private college and university in the US. ISL prepared them well for future studies as they both did well and are out on their own working. ??
It’s not just the school, but the community. If you are not fluent in another language, we found ISL easier in that respect as all students, teachers, sports and activities are done in English. Depending on the age of your children, this may or may not be important. Mine were both in Jr Jigh/High school and didn’t really have time to become fluent while preparing for SATs etc. We loved our years at ISL and both my kids will tell you what an enormously positive impact it had on them. I’m happy to answer any questions or chat about anything related to a move overseas! Please feel free to email me at [email protected] -Tracy
How many languages do they speak in Luxembourg? How are the international schools in Luxembourg? Is it as expensive in Luxembourg as everyone says? In our article, expats answer these questions and many more.
How many languages do they speak in Luxembourg? How are the international schools in Luxembourg? Is it as expensive in Luxembourg as everyone says? In our article, expats answer these questions and...