Today, we are happy to exchange with Anne Lhopiteau, who graduated from the LFS in 2022 before joining the EPFL, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.
Hello Anne, thanks for taking the time to exchange with us! To begin with, could you introduce yourself in a few words? Tell us your story with the LFS, and your experience.
Hello, I am Anne Lhopiteau, former LFS student, from the promotion “Shansationnels”. I joined the LFS in Grade 6 and passed the Baccalaureate with the maths and physics & chemistry specialties in 2022. As the name describes it, my year of Grade 12 was sensational and unfortunately ended up with a three-month lockdown. I am currently in my first year at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, where I study architecture.
Were you in a particular stream? Why?
As I am Franco-Chinese, and went to a Chinese Primary School, I first focused on the French language, before joining the International Chinese Stream (SIC) in Grade 11 (for the Baccalaureate). Honestly, I had such great moments with this little class of seven students! This stream has a huge advantage for the Baccalaureate but also on the cultural aspect. The course content is interesting, especially Chinese philosophy and the modern history of China. I find it sad that some students who have lived in China for a long time don’t really know this country.
What other activities were you involved in?
I practiced volleyball with the ASC from Grade 6, and I became the team captain in High School. I participated in numerous tournaments, including two Asia Cups, which enabled me to travel to Singapore. It is a bit sad that during the last three years, the sanitary restrictions stopped us from doing more tournaments. The cancellation of the Asia Cup of Volleyball which should have taken place in March 2020 in Shanghai remains one of my biggest disappointments at the LFS.
You now live and study in Switzerland, how do you feel about it? Does it change a lot compared to Shanghai?
I often answer this question by saying that the difference between these two cities is so big that we can’t really compare them without writing a full essay. (Laughs) The size and ease of Lausanne are not comparable with those of Shanghai (neither the cost, life is expensive!), but the landscapes offer a beautiful compensation. Despite some moments of nostalgia, I have never regretted choosing Lausanne, because I believe that travels and changes make us stronger.
Why did you choose to join the Polytechnic School of Lausanne? What are your options of career after this school?
EPFL seemed to be the perfect school, for its excellence and its reputation (of course, rankings are not everything, but it makes me happy to see my school so highly ranked!). It is a French-speaking school (I was looking for one for my Bachelor’s), and it is relatively easy to enroll (a Scientific Baccalaureate with Distinction is enough). Yet, the real selection occurs during the first year (with a success rate which can be scary!).
In our third year, we have the possibility to do an exchange, and the fourth year constitutes a year of internship, allowing us to get access to a master’s degree. In my case, I will become an architect after my diploma. The other streams lead to engineering careers.
What do your days look like?
Days are very busy: for this second semester, I have classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day apart from Wednesday when I only have classes in the morning. Being in architecture, I spend a lot of my time at the school in our architecture workshop to work on my project, often in the weekend (until sometimes late!). But do not worry too much, this is just for us future architects. (Laughs)
What are the subjects that interest or inspire you the most?
« Critic and Project Theory », which contains the project itself: it is not the subject that gives me the most pleasure, but I feel like I must mention it considering its particularity and in honour of the sleepless nights! It is in this class that we share our theorical knowledge and put it into practice, that we learn to work with others, that we conceive our own project and… become architects.
We have the opportunity to frequently visit Geneva (about an hour away from Lausanne), where all our projects take place. At the end of the semester, we will be able to work one full week on a construction site, and even camp on our own site. In December, we were also able to do one week of construction in Friburg, where the EPFL has a huge workshop.
Can you explain to us how the LFS prepared you for your higher education?
The LFS offers numerous resources to students, particularly education fairs, conferences, and an internship in Grade 11. The fair that occurred in February 2022, with what the adults had told me during interviews, had inspired me a lot.
I would also say that the adventuring spirit and taste for excellence I was able to develop over the last few years at the LFS prepared me to face the difficulties of my studies, but also of life in general.
What would you advise our students preparing for the Baccalaureate this year?
Enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your last months at the LFS (I say it from the bottom of my heart, as being one of those who went through lockdown for my last months of High School), because “real life is tough”. And a piece of advice for all the LFS students: make the most out of the supportive and kind LFS teachers, make the most out of the freedom the school gives students, which will not necessarily be possible afterwards. Regarding your guidance, do not fear to make the wrong choice when you start.
Any advice to adapt to a new environment after being at the LFS?
I think it is important to go at your own rhythm, and not to fear change. Be confident and even arrogant when facing new difficulties. Do not waste your time in the details of life, identify your main objective and go!
What has really inspired me at the EPFL is that you are with people of all ages and origins, you can be in a team with someone who is 31. Each and everyone of us have a different life, I realise how important it is to live your life in your own way, following your own pace.