“Uggg!” My eldest son Finn exclaims as we drive him down for his first day of International school in the French Swiss Alps.
“Do we really have to go to this new school?” he mutters more to himself than to us. Because we already know. We’ve been apologising, profusely, for the rapidity we left our last International school located in the canton of Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland.
“Listen Finn, you know you can do this. You’re getting to be an old pro at being the new child at school.“ We try and reassure ourselves as much as him.
Because frankly, he’s right, going to a new school is a frightening prospect when you’re 13 years old. Two new schools in as many years makes that even more terrifying. Part of the “problem” is that I’m an online entrepreneur and due to the flexibility on where I can work, we’ve had our fair share of moving.
We are a Bermudian family, both children born on the islands with strong family connections, 16 generations of roots. After 8 years of living in Bermuda, we decided we wanted our children to grow up speaking more than just English and moved to Mexico. We stayed there for five years until our two sons became fluent in Spanish. While Mexico is beautiful and a wonderful country, we noticed that things were just a bit too wild, especially for two already boisterous boys approaching their teenage years. After living in Lugano for a year, the schools in Ticino were excellent, but we were less than thrilled with the unfamiliarity of living in an urban environment. Traffic jams, no parking, and no real social connections, Ticino wasn’t feeling like the place to settle down for the next decade.
We even toyed with the idea of moving back to Bermuda but as it had been a dream of ours to live in Europe, actually, a dream of almost every single North American friend we had. And we were here, in Europe. Our immigration visas already worked out, we owned a car. To leave after 8 or 9 months, it seemed drastic. In fact, it would be insane to leave at this point.
We knew we loved the Swiss mountain life, because we’d been driving an hour each way to ski at Andermatt ski resort, and during our research we came upon Lemania-Verbier International School. So what does one do when searching for a school in Switzerland? Head on over to google and type in – “International Ski School in the french swiss alps“. And up pops up Lemania, or LVIS.
Why not visit?
What we found in the stunning Swiss alpine scenery of the Valais canton was a lovely, familial school for children from years one through year nine, and with plans to continue to the pre-University level.
After a weekend trip in February to visit, accompanied by some 30 centimeters of fluffy new snow, high alpine chutes and gritty tree skiing, we were done. It didn’t hurt that the French Swiss headmaster, Thibaut Descoeudres and his team ran the school like… well, in Switzerland, you can say it. A Swiss Watch. What we found was a fun, diverse and international staff of teachers, not to mention an international student body. We knew we had finally found the right place.
It’s now some months later and Finn, with his younger brother Somers, are thriving at the school. The memory of that gruesome first day all but distant for them both, as they take every Wednesday and Friday afternoon off to go ski with their classmates. As a part of their schooling! The boys are now comfortable taking the free bus around town to and from school, to go skiing with their classmates, and to meet up in the terrain park and practices their 360’s and back flips.
Simply put. They love the school, we love the school, and the decision to move to Verbier and LVIS ended up being one of the best decisions we have made in our lives.
What’s not to love about a small school with a professionally backed team, following the IGSE British school system? They go to school laughing every day as they meet up with their mates from nationalities; Chinese, Swedish, British, French, Swiss, Dutch, Norwegian, Australian & Italian, to name but a few. For a school the size of Lemania, it’s surprisingly well represented globally.
The fact that they’re now on their way to learning their 3rd language with smatterings in 2 or 3 others also solidifies our very tough decision to leave Bermuda all those years ago.
Thank you Lemania family for all you have done for us.