Alumni Feature Oscar: "My 3 years at Montana have been some of the best if not the best of my life."

"Born in Mexico I originally planned to go for one year only. However, I fell in love with the school and haven’t looked back since. I ended up completing my schooling on the Zugerberg and still live in Switzerland today.”

25 April 2023

An old song talks about the hotel where you can check in but you can never leave. Perhaps Montana has that magnetic pull. It did for Oscar Pfeiffer!

As well as academics, Oscar threw himself into all aspects of school and believes this approach gave him a great start to life after. His tip for current students is to get involved with extra-curricular activities: “Academics are important. They give you knowledge. But everyone in school has, in one way or another, access to that knowledge. Extracurricular activities on the other hand give you invaluable experience, which in combination with the knowledge you get from academics, gives you a competitive edge unlike any other.”

We should point out that Oscar served on the Student Council on the Events and Graduation (as President) Committees and was an MUN delegate for 2 years before becoming its President, so he knows what he’s talking about. The combination of his studies and his activities taught him a valuable skill:

“How to debate and make a coherent argument. The intellectually-competitive nature I was surrounded by, plus my involvement in MUN and other clubs, gave me the skill to debate from a very early age.”

When casting his mind back, Oscar’s shine-out memories were:

  • Ski trips every weekend + yearly St. Moritz ski trips
  • Hide and seek at night on the school grounds
  • Cooking and movie nights in the Grosseshaus apartment

Boarding life is about growing up: “It gave me a lot of independence and maturity. In University, while the students around me were learning how to cook, I was already learning how to do my taxes. Why? Because I had learned how to cook in Montana. This is just an example of course, but you get the point. Growing up at a boarding school gives you the chance to get ahead in so many ways. At the time, one doesn’t realise it. It is when you are placed in a more “ordinary” environment that you realise all the tools you were given ahead of time.”

It should be said that old-style boarding schools, and even some current, would not have taught those skills. Food would have been served up in a dining-room and that would be it. The boarding houses at Montana are different, with more emphasis on assisting as young people develop, helping with the skills and gradually introducing the freedoms, to prepare for life ahead.

Oscar is now very aware of the balance between freedom and guidance that he grew up with as a Montana boarder. Another of his top tips indicates the maturity he had already as a student at school: "The key to a good time at Montana is in the relationships one builds."

That is heart-warming to hear and a big shout goes out to all our staff – faculty and boarding – whose understanding of good relationships creates this environment. This is the opportunity to add the names of Oscar’s “honourable mentions” – he found it too hard to say who was his favourite. EVERYONE! would have been his answer. Some have moved on since Oscar’s time, others are still with us, so in case any of them are reading: Mr. Pfister, Ms. Carlsen, Mr. Meier, Mr. Rodriguez, Velia Tricoli, Dayami.

The reason Oscar and his family chose Institut Montana in the first place was for an international experience. Even if for only one year, they understood that an international perspective on education would open doors all over the world. Then, he stayed! Oscar’s description of the benefits of studying in an international environment is eloquent and insightful: “It gives you an understanding of the world as a whole and it sheds light on the beauty and complexity that globalisation has brought to our society today.”

“Montana changed my life and gave me an opportunity to grow into the person I am today…. I often wish I could go back and do it all over again, and while it makes me a bit sad to know that this won’t happen, I still smile every day because it happened.”

Today Oscar works as Search Engine Advertising Consultant in one of the top Swiss digital marketing agencies, founded by a Montana former student, ironic how small the Montana world is eh?

Oscar Pfeiffer at Webrepublic

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