Behind the successful journey of Joshua from Institut Montana: From Shanghai to graduating Swiss Gymnasium with the highest score in the Canton of Zug

Institut Montana is immensely proud to announce that their recent Swiss Gymnasium graduate achieved an outstanding score of 5.769, the highest in the Canton of Zug.

Joshua’s journey is truly exceptional. He started at Institut Montana in 2017 as a boarding student at the elementary school. Arriving as a 12-year-old with no knowledge of German, he excelled through dedication and hard work, supported by the school’s community, and ultimately completed his Swiss Gymnasium studies with flying colours.

During his time at Institut Montana, Joshua contributed as one of their most impactful and motivational Student Ambassadors, warmly welcoming and sharing his experience with new families. Passionate about AI and programming, he authored an impressive Maturaarbeit and is now continuing his studies at the prestigious ETH Zürich.

From Shanghai to Switzerland with zero German

Choosing Institut Montana was a pure coincidence as Joshua initially planned to attend the high school in the United States. The family then stumbled upon a presentation of Swiss boarding schools and instantly fell in love with Montana. The proximity to nature, central location, and opportunity to learn German were all enticing factors. After visiting the school, Joshua’s family was convinced that Montana could be his home for many years.

Leaving China and his family behind to start studying at Institut Montana was initially daunting for the 12-year-old. “In the beginning, it was challenging as I felt homesick,” he recalls. “Luckily, my newly made friends consoled me, and my house parents were always there to offer support. I am grateful for the uplifting environment I had at Montana that helped me immensely during my early days.”

Joshua expressed gratitude for Montana’s support throughout his journey, from learning German from scratch to successfully graduating after six years in the Swiss Gymnasium. “The immersive learning environment at the school was incredibly helpful for learning German,” he notes. With lessons taught in German, he admitted he had daily exposure to the language and was able to learn quite quickly. Montana has always been a safe space where he could make mistakes without fear of ridicule or judgment. This supportive atmosphere allowed him to practice and speak German every day, despite his initial shyness.

Growing up in English language with his family, Joshua came to Switzerland as a fluent English speaker. However, he considered himself fortunate as during his years in Swiss Gymnasium. “I had the privilege of being taught English and History by Ms. Verhar. Her lessons were challenging, requiring considerable effort and preparation. My efforts were definitely well rewarded though. With her help, I have been able to improve my English level substantially and have learned to interpret and appreciate English literature. Ms. Verhar has not only taught me subject-specific skills but also shaped my worldviews as a person using literature,” Joshua added.

The life in Montana as a boarding student

Living at Institut Montana felt like a second home for Joshua. He expressed how much the boarding community has truly become his home away from home. He felt welcomed, accepted, and supported by the house parents at Institut Montana. ”Over the years, we have been able to create profound personal connections that I dearly cherish. With my house parents, Mr. Probst, Mr. Barche, Mr. Heine, and Ms. Hansen, I was able to discuss almost anything—from traveling to politics to school. They were there to cheer me up when I was down and celebrated my achievements.”

He also expressed his gratitude for all the support from Ms. Chang, Head of Boarding, whom he sometimes bumped into when he did his evening walks. Now, as a graduating student who is moving to university, it is very reminiscent of leaving his home in Shanghai to begin his study at Institut Montana.

Besides academics, Joshua is passionate about programming, especially in Python. “I understand that many people might view this as an academic pursuit, but for me, it’s a hobby that I deeply enjoy.” Looking back, he encourages others to choose Institut Montana for its community and opportunities. “In a few words: Come to Montana! You will not regret it,” he advises prospective students.

Embracing the next exciting chapter at ETH

Looking forward, Joshua admitted how excited he is to study alongside some of the world’s brightest minds at ETH Zürich. “Institut Montana has prepared me in various ways,” he reflects. “Mr. Meiler, my middle school teacher and one of my favourite mentors, sparked my interest in the sciences. We still keep in touch and discuss physics and chemistry. “Ms. Verhar’s classes taught me critical thinking and practical skills like notetaking, which enhanced my work ethic. These skills will be crucial for my university studies. Additionally, my personal interest in physics and math led me to extensive self-study, which will also be crucial in my university journey.”

When asked about what he will miss about Institut Montana, Joshua enthusiastically lists the community, personal connections, school activities, and the beautiful campus, particularly evening walks under the star-filled sky.

Institut Montana congratulates Joshua for his outstanding accomplishment and wishes him the best for this next journey.


Written by

Institut Montana Zugerberg

Institut Montana Zugerberg

Institut Montana Zugerberg is a fully accredited Swiss international boarding school for 90 years now and since 1987 an official IB World School. The School’s longstanding experience in academic excellence allows us to ideally prepare students as well educated and confident individuals ready for success at world-renowned international universities.

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