Schools in the US vs Europe

Students play basketball in front of the school emblem. In Europe, those mascots dont exist, the only purpose of schools is studying.
Students play basketball in front of the school emblem. In Europe, those mascots don’t exist, the only purpose of schools is studying.
Alice Tomasovic

As an exchange student, I always have to answer the same question: “Is the school here different from where you come from?” My answer is always the same: “Yes.” 

Everyone thinks that schools in Europe are more complicated than in the US, which is true. However, we shouldn’t reduce schools here as “weaker.” They are just different.

Schools in Europe are all very distinct from each other. However, one thing remains the same: we work. The blookets or the study guides with all the answers don’t exist where I come from. To pass a test, we actually have to study. And by studying, I mean sitting for hours in front of our sheets, sometimes a few days in a row. Sometimes we still fail. It’s normal to cry before a test because we stayed up all night and still think it wasn’t enough. That’s a reason why most Europeans don’t have a job. We’re too busy studying to do anything else. 

In Europe, we don’t have to save huge amounts of money to attend university, it’s almost entirely free to us. According to Intelligencer, “Because it is heavily subsidized by individual governments in Europe, higher education costs range from zero to really low for nationals of those countries and from the European Union.” The European system is more affordable than thousands of dollars in the US. 

A huge difference is that we don’t have middle school over there. We have six years of elementary school then six years of high school. 

In terms of subjects covered in class, they are mainly similar except that we study things in more depth and sometimes more complicated. The huge difference is here you don’t really have to study to pass a test, you don’t remember anything of it the day after. 

In my school, our schedules are per week. We don’t have the same classes every day but we keep the same schedule and teachers all year. The blocks last 50 minutes each so we have seven to nine different classes daily. Which means we sometimes have school until 4-5pm. However, we’re done at noon on Wednesdays so we have around the same time at school per week even if our time at school is more studious.

We don’t have any fun classes in our schedules. Every class is made to study so we don’t really have a choice about the different subjects to take. The only choice we have is how many hours of math and sciences we want or which foreign languages we want to study, knowing that we’re obligated to study at least two other ones.  

Schools just have a different mindset. In Europe, teachers usually don’t care about our success, they just do their job to gain money and that’s it. They always say “I don’t care if you don’t work, it’s not me who still needs to graduate.” 

That’s why I love the teachers’ mindset here. They actually want us to succeed and will never hesitate to help us. We even have an entire hour every day for them to answer our questions. 

In Europe, eating in teachers’ classrooms is unbelievable. As soon as the bell rings they’re even happier than us to leave. 

When it comes to lunchtime, the older students can leave campus to eat. The younger ones have to stay at school to get a lunch they brought from home. Indeed, we only have one choice of meal per day and it isn’t free so almost no one eats them. Students can also leave school if the teacher isn’t present because we don’t have substitute teachers.  

One good thing in Europe is that seniors have privileges. We have a room only for us in which we can hang out if one of our teachers is absent or during lunchtime. It’s also the only place where we can use our phones because phone aren’t allowed at all at school. 

Schools here are so much more than schools I’m used to. The whole spirit is amazing and you really feel like you’re part of a community. 

Indeed, sports, clubs, and a lot of activities are available at school. In Europe, those kinds of clubs don’t exist. If we want to play a sport, the only way to do it is outside school so it’s way more expensive. 

I think that if your goal is to study, schools in Europe will sound better to you. However, if you’re trying to find a school with a good psychology which will help you to flourish, the US schools are preferable. 

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer you!

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    LilyFeb 15, 2024 at 5:35 pm

    I love this! I’ve always wondered how the education system is different in other countries. Great job Alice!