In this new episode dedicated to our alumni, we chat with Emilie Liaud, student from the LFS promotion 2020 to know more about her souvenirs from the LFS and her life today, in preparatory class at Lycée Hoche, Versailles.
Hello Emilie, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Hello, I’m Emilie Liaud, I’m 19 and I studied at the LFS during High School. I graduated in 2020 and am from the promotion “ShangCeux” (play on words between “Shanghai” and “lucky”).
When did you join the LFS and did you choose a specific programme? Tell us a bit more.
I joined the LFS in 2017 and the FLSco (French as Language of Instruction) programme. It’s a personalised support in French language provided to non-French speaking students, which was my case. Although my parents are both French, I arrived at the LFS in Grade 10 without knowing how to write nor read in French. The thing is I had done all my previous schooling, from kindergarten to Grade 9 in a Chinese school, in Chinese. The first days at the LFS were hard for me, especially in French, History & Geography, and Biology classes. It was a massive choc at the beginning, I couldn’t even understand the instructions.
FLSco really helped me, firstly with French bridging classes but not only that. I felt supported and was able to build some self-confidence into integrating the French system. I was very lucky to benefit from this programme and I wish to thank the FLSco team. It is mainly thanks to the team that I was able to have a fulfilling and happy education at the LFS, despite my initial language gap.
Can you share with us a souvenir of your life at the LFS?
One of the events that really marked me goes back to Grade 11. With the initiative of my French teacher, we directed and acted on a show about the ‘’art of speaking alone’’, where each of us had to learn a famous monologue and played in front of an audience.
There was a big amount of preparation work to be done but we went with it and it was a success. I do remember this with nostalgia, it was a new type of exercise for me, quite stressful as I still wasn’t fluent in French. In the end, we were all together with my classmates, happy to be working together.
Could you describe what the LFS inspires you in 3 words?
Three words to describe the LFS…
Firstly, I would say “Diversity” because the LFS is a school opened to multiculturality which knows how to welcome students with different backgrounds and origins the best way possible, whether culturally or academically.
The second word that comes to mind is “Mutual Aid”. We have a lot of group projects to work on and are encouraged to work together. In fact, the general atmosphere of the school is benevolent, which naturally brings most students to help each other.
Finally, I would choose the word “Excellence” because the LFS has a very good reputation among other French schools abroad. It’s obvious that most teachers and administrative staff are devoted to the school and its students. As a student, it gives us the will to contribute to this high reputation.
Outside of class, were you doing other things at the LFS?
Yes, I joined the ASC (Sports & Cultural Extracurricular Activities) Badminton every Thursday after class. I was not one of the best sports people, but it was allowing me to have a break in my week, free myself from studies, and practice a sport with my friends.
And after graduating, what did you do?
I chose to continue my higher education in France. It was the only path that made sense to me, because although I am French, I had never lived there yet.
Why did you choose to study at Lycée Hoche? How was the application process?
Throughout my Chinese and French educations, I always had a strong interest for scientific courses, especially mathematics, I thus naturally moved towards the Scientific CPGE (Preparatory Class for Renowned Schools).
Why the Lycée Hoche? For several reasons, starting because it’s a school with very good results at competitive exams, but also because it’s a school at human scale, which offers a very nice environment. The buildings, its chapel and museum give the Lycée Hoche some charm, a soul.
I don’t regret this choice, the Lycée Hoche is a pleasant institution to study at and I vividly recommend to future LFS graduates wishing to go back to France to do a CPGE.
As of the application process, it is quite standard, through ParcourSup. It’s not complicated but there are steps to follow and deadlines to respect. The Guidance Counselling at the LFS accompanies students very well for this kind of process.
How is your life in France? What’s a typical day for you?
I start class at 8 :00am. The day is filled with classes, TP (practical classes with experiments), TD (directed classes with exercises), and what we call “Kholles”, a very specific exercise we do in CPGE, which consists of an hour-long oral exam. I go home after dinner, before 8 :00pm, and then study until about 11:00pm.
Each Saturday morning, we have a supervised exam, and the afternoon is for me the moment to relax. On Sundays, I usually study and work on a weekly assessment.
You chose to continue your studies in PCSI (Physics, Chemistry & Engineering). Do you already know the type of job you wish to do in the future?
Do I know what job I want to do later?
For now, I don’t really have an idea of a job, I wish to continue my path in this more general field and based on the specialties offered in the Engineering Schools for which I will have passed the exam, choose when they present to myself. I am not in a hurry not stressed on this matter, because I believe things will naturally clear up throughout my studies.
Can you tell us how the LFS prepared you for your studies?
The LFS fully responded to my needs and expectations at the end of Grade 9, when I decided to leave the Chinese system to move onto the French system with my parents’ support.
Have you developed any new hobbies now that you live in France?
It is clear that the CPGE doesn’t give me much free time which makes that time precious. I try to focus on relaxing and calming activities: essentially going out to enjoy the surroundings as well as the cultural and historical environment we have here in Versailles and Paris, listening to music and reading.
What would you advise students, who like you, wish to join a renowned preparatory class?
I think you really need to love the studied subjects (mathematics, physics, and chemistry in my case), and be ready to forget High School because studying methods are different as well as the meaning to give to exams and marks.
Except for the rare people who are extremely talented, you must work hard, way more than in High School. You must accept failures because the main objective of the DS, DM or Kholles is not to validate what you have learnt, but to prepare yourself to competitive exams, to make you understand what your weaknesses are and help you identify the studying axes you must focus on.
You also must develop your time management skills and take care of your health. Even though it is easier said than done, you must enjoy your studies which are sometimes intense and tiring, but when you take a step back, remain very gratifying.
Is there another message you would like to tell LFS students?
Yes… Live each moment to the fullest. Enjoy the quality of life at the LFS, the quality of its teachers, and their engagement. You should not hesitate to ask questions when you are in difficulty or in doubt.