difference in schools

We already had a big reality check in the first week here. Even though it is so different from our schools in The Netherlands, it is still no High School Musical! It is all about the sports over here instead of only working or studying. What we learned in our first year of high school, people over here only learn that in their senior (last) year. Just like English. We know more about the rules than the other (American) kids in our class. Even though it is not even our native language, we know more about it than real Americans! Besides that, American schools have a lot more fun stuff. We think the biggest difference between a Dutch High School and an American is that it’s all about the sports in America and in The Netherlands it is only working and studying. The high school spirit is really big over here. Even when you are not really athletic, you can always join a club like quizball. You go to games with this club and compete against other schools. If you get more questions correct than the other team you win. They are always really smart. The biggest American sports are football and basketball. During these games, there are cheerleaders (just like us), the crowd and the band. Football is always a big event on Friday, we didn’t experience basketball games yet. The first time we really felt the high school spirit was during one of these games. How excited the crowd always is, the band playing music and the cheerleaders doing cheers. It is amazing to see. Next to the sport there are a lot more differences like the lockers. They are way bigger here in America (imagine a Dutch locker but 3 times bigger) but they don’t use their lockers. They say they don’t have time to go to their lockers during class hours. We can imagine that because we only have a few minutes to change class and the lockers are all over the place. There are lockers on every floor. Some people who have their lockers on the ground floor use them when they leave school because it is already on their way out. The schedule is also way different. You have the same schedule every day. If you have art in your first hour, you always have art in your first hour. It doesn’t change. The time the hours start is also really weird and confusing. First hour starts at 8:03 am and so it goes on. In The Netherlands it is always with round numbers like 8:20 am and lunch started at 12:50 pm Now, lunch starts at 11:38 am. At the beginning of our fourth hour, the first lunch starts. In the middle of our fourth hour, the second group gets out of their fourth hour and goes to lunch and the first lunch group goes to their fourth hour. When the bell rings for the third time during fourth hour, we can go have lunch because we are in third lunch. The second group goes back to their fourth hour and finish the second half of their class. In The Netherlands, the whole school has lunch at the same time. This was something that we had to get used to. On Wednesdays we have ‘late start’. This means that we start school later. Instead of 8:03 am, first hour starts at 8:33 am. Because Linda (Joy’s host mom) doesn’t have a late start, we always ride with Anna on Wednesdays (Floor’s host sister). 

Besides this, the whole school system is way different from what we’re used to. In The Netherlands, everyone goes to school when they’re four years old. They stay in elementary school for eight years and then we go to high school. The level you do, determines the amount of years that you have to go to high school for. VMBO takes 4 years, this is the lowest and most average level. In this level you can do ‘basis’, ‘kader’ and MAVO (TL). If you decide to do one level higher, you do HAVO, this takes 5 years to finish, if you don’t have to do a year over. The highest level is VWO and this takes 6 years. Depending on the level you graduate from high school, depends on which level you can go to in college.  

In the US this system is way different. Kids go to elementary school when they’re 6 years old. After four years they go to middle school for four years, after that it’s time for high school. Here, people think it’s weird that we were 12/11 when we went to high school, because the normal age to go to high school here is 14. When they’re in high school, they don’t have to choose a profile, they just have an amount of credits that they have to get from different subjects to graduate. When they want to apply for college, their GPA and ACT scores are really important. Their GPA is their Grade Point Average, this shows how high they score on their average courses. The ACT is a really important test, a lot of colleges look at their scores if they apply. People with a really high GPA or ACT score, are having a bigger chance to get a good scholarship.

The subjects here are way different than in The Netherlands. In The Netherlands, most of our subjects are the standard ones who require a lot of study and work. Here they have a lot of subjects who are more relaxing. Think about art, choir, yearbook or a lot of different types of PE. Some courses are duo credit (DC), this means that you pay an amount of money to follow a subject. When you pass this, you get the high school credit, but also the college credit. Apparently, these classes are pretty hard but it stands really good on your diploma if you’re going to apply for college. 

When someone over here has enough college credits, she or he can skip a year, or even two, when they go to college. We have someone in our grade who already did so many hours on a college class that she is going straight to her junior year in college (her third year) because she already learned all the stuff they teach you in the first and second year of her college major. Back in The Netherlands, we didn’t even think that much about college. We only start thinking about which study we want to do in college half way in our second last year in high school. Here in the US they are already stressing about it in their sophomore (second) year. It is a way bigger deal. 

We’re really happy with the Dutch education system and we think the US can learn a lot from it. Even though the American high schools are way more fun, we think you learn better and more in The Netherlands and we’re glad that we still can experience this. 




Was weer fijn om te lezen!


Very interesting to learn about the differences you experience


Super nice to read how you experience it.

Lou en Elly

Ik heb weer super genoten van jullie verhaal ,zo beleven wij wat jullie ervaren .

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