I was thinking about what question one may have, that is planning to change their lives for a whole (or two) year(s), and move to another country. My first questions? Obvious. About School. Everyone had different opinions, about how American schools work, I heard a bunch of stereotypes, but let me reveal the pure truth within this lonely post. My being will hereby depict the actual and utterly plain facts about schools in the States. Let me be accurate on this one, I’ll describe my experiences, differentiate between educational institutions, I’ll be specific about my school (therefore the ones that are interested in coming here get a clear picture about my beloved St. Joe), and general about every other school (I assume they work in the same way with more or less disparities). Since this post could be long enough until it vanishes into the abyss, I’ll focus on five elements/factors, that successfully captured my attention. In case there are any other upcoming questions or concerns, one can email me/us(our director Lehel), and ask it personally or just leave a comment below, so later on we may answer in a post. Thank you!
Small talk: How are you? Sorry for the long intro speech, however I think that my future fellow exchange students may be interested in this post. Let me begin!
First of all, you DON’T STAY IN ONE CLASSROOM. You go to your teacher’s classroom. You WILL HAVE 7 classes a day, and a lunch break. In my case scenario, it is 47 minutes a class and 30 minutes lunch(11:30-12:00). If it is Wednesday that means early dismissals in St. Joe, so we finish at 1:45 (every other day it is 2:40) and we have shortened classes, every period is 41 or so minutes. You don’t have 10 minute breaks, just 3-4 minutes, which is enough to go to your locker, get your binders, notebooks or whatever you so wish, and get to your next class. And you will have THE SAME schedule everyday! (My schedule is: Theology 11/12, Algebra II H, English 3, HOPE, Anatomy and Physiology H, US History and Spanish 1), I’ll talk about subjects later. Teachers are a lot friendlier here, if you have any questions (‘any preguntas?’ as my Spanish teacher says it), you may ask them during class or after classes if you don’t want others to hear it or you’re shy. They are extremely helpful, and if you are in a desperate need of a tutoring, they are there, and they WANT TO HELP! Your grades are from F to A, A being the best. Your classes are called periods, they are from A to G, starting with your first class being A, your second B, and so on.
Conclusion: Well-organized, precise. There is no skipping classes or anything like that (don’t wanna be bad, but we all know how Romanian schools work).
It all depends on the teacher! They decide how they want to grade, what worth what, what percentage it counts into your average. BUT, if they make a mistake, which even though no one wants to make a mistake, it sometimes happens reluctantly, you may complain about it (which I assume you will, if the grading is unfair), they gladly change it, because they ARE HELPFUL, and they WANT TO BE FAIR! It seems to me, that teachers here(US) are handling students more as an intelligent individual, a young adult. We are teenagers, nevertheless we wan to be viewed as intellectual people with freedom and free will, don’t we? Now, don’t forget something! You want to be respected, therefore, you have to show respect! This is referring to such simple tasks as turning in your assignment ON TIME(you did not? now, that’s your fault, and that means a score of 0). At home(RO), you might have noticed that if you’re sick, you get a few days off, meaning you don’t have to write a paper on time, but here, there is no exception like that! You have to take care of this, for your own good! Now if it so happens that you are sick, or miss a class or two, I tell you what to do!
I missed my last two classes the other day, and I could email my teachers, but in this case I went to their classrooms before leaving school, and told them what’s up, my History teacher said it’s okay, because we were not doing anything important. My Spanish teacher though(i knew they would do some activities in class), sent me an email, explaining what they did, and what I have to do, and what is needed for his next class. Isn’t that great? Well, I think it is.
What does define freedom for a student, if not choosing their own subjects? Of course there are compulsory ones such as: English, Math, Science(you get to choose what exactly), and History, but I tell you these are fun classes too, and then there is an array of optional classes. You need to choose wisely! You can change it in the first two weeks, if you feel like that, without big deal, but after that period of time, you have to live with your choice! I chose mine, and I feel that’s it’s pretty good, I don’t regret choosing any of them.
4. Dressing Code
Depending on, if you go to public or private schools, it varies.
In public schools you can wear whatever you wish, if it matches their rules. Which I assume is no shorts, no spaghetti straps and basic stuff, which is understandable. There is school and there is your leisure time. We
don’t wear the same thing for an Opera as we would a Cinema, do we?
In a private school though, you will have a uniform, and at this point you’re like: Duh, that’s gross! But believe me when I state this: Girls, it makes your life easier in the morning, and EVERYONE is wearing it, who the heck cares??
5.English: Is it Hard?/How should you practice for it?
I’ve been learning this language for years now, so for me, it was not hard at all. Thanks to my dad, who was yelling and kicking my butt for that many years, I would not speak English without him. So recipe? Read English books, watch English TV shows(IN ENGLISH), and if there is a possibility talk in English to someone(native speaker is the best option, isn’t it, Dave?!). And start it in time! Now! If you think that the last week will do it, you’re 100% wrong! It takes time, and practice to speak well.
School was not hard for me either, but that is because I had the vocabulary for it, you have to learn the English words. Don’t even get me started on how many notebooks I have full of words that I learned.
Anatomy was hard at the first time, because of the medical terms, but now that’s easy too. Although it was always my favorite subject, and I’ve never had a hard time learning about organisms, organ systems, organs, tissues, cells, and organelles.
You have to pay attention in class, they don’t give notes, it is a lot different than in Romania, they are trying to prepare you for college, meaning you are teaching yourself, and then discuss it in class with your teacher. Now is the time to thank my mom, for making me get good marks all the time, because without her, I would be lost now.
So I guess this was it.
If you have any preguntas, just email us on the addresses below. I have to tell you, I like how American schools work. Yes it is a lot different, and it is hard for the first time, but it is simply and utterly awesome! And it’s a great experience, meeting new people, seeing how the world works. It’s just great. Everything is just so well-organized and logical here. My point of view on this topic is: if you have the opportunity, do not waste it! Others are just dreaming of it! Can you do it? Then do it!
Hope it helped and answered a few question,