My, have I been busy for the last few days (and weeks, actually).
Summer break is over and school started again for me. I’ve been a little nervous but I’m enjoying it so much! But it’s really keeping me busy – I have some tests and exams coming up next week and I have to give a bunch of presentations as well, which really scares me!
I couldn’t have imagined school would be like this back in my old life. I was taught public schools are about as devilish as premature sex and white bread (it kills you!). And now, being there, I can’t see what’s so terrible about it.
When I was looking for school options last year I had a huge variety of choices. See, the school system is different here. You can graduate school at 16 and pick out a job. If you do that, you’ll go to a specialized school. Nurse school, business school for sales managers and such, all types of schools really. You don’t need a “high school” degree for many jobs around here, just special school. That way, you can get out of the general education system if that’s just not your thing at all and specialize right away. If you want to go to university, however, you must get a high school degree. High school is 13 years here, not 12.
Now, I looked at my opinions and decided that at least trying for a high school degree was the best for now. I could still change my mind and go to a specialized school, I just didn’t do that because I had (have) no idea what I want to be. But there’s many options for high school too! First off, I was offered to go to a regular high school despite my age. I didn’t feel comfortable with that idea though, as I was tested and they told me my education was on a 10th grade standard. 11th grade is 16-17 year olds and I wasn’t sure if I could deal with that.
But my advisor at the local job center told me that there was special high schools. They were only grades 11-13 and made for people who left at 16, did something else and now wanted to get a high school degree. They told me there would be people of all ages, 16-100, and from different stages in life: Working moms, older people, unemployed people, people who wanted a different career, people who changed their minds, everything. I felt comfortable being summed up in that group. When I told my advisor I wanted to go to that school, she even asked me what field type of school I wanted to go to. I could go general education, business, nursing and computer specialized again! I asked her what that was for, and she told me that the difference was second and third language acquisition. Only general education high school demands a third foreign language, the other specialized high schools demanded only a second. At university, about 50% of all majors demand a third language. If you don’t have that you won’t be admitted for those majors. I looked at the majors which ask for a third language and my favourites were among them (geology/geography, archeology, history). And I figured since I already have english (english is the mandatory second language here), I might as well go ahead and learn some french or spanish. So general education was the pick.
when I started school I was so nervous. i was afraid I’d somehow be the weirdo in my classes. But when I first entered the classroom I realized that wasn’t true. My fellow students are a funny, colorful bunch. We have some immigrants who want to improve their life and didn’t have a chance to go to that type of school in the country they came from. We have some younger people in their twenties who left school at 16 and learned some type of job. We have a carpenter, some salespeople, two nurses, office workers and a car mechanic. And then, there’s also some younger people who are unemployed and want to switch careers to get a good job. and an 19-year-old girl who quit school at 16 because she got pregnant. Now her baby is old enough and she wants to make a good living with a good job. and then, of course, there’s me.
Everybody is eager to learn, people help each other out a lot and meet up for study groups. There honestly isn’t a single person who doesn’t want to be there and you can really feel that. The atmosphere is very joyful and disciplined. The teachers don’t treat us like kids, they act appropriate, teaching adults who want to learn.
I have to say that it wasn’t easy for me. They are asking for a lot and even though I’ve been tested and they told me I was going to be ok, I feel like I have to do a lot of extra-studying. But my grades were good last year and I wanted to improve some more this year. Especially in French, which turned out to be much harder than I expected!
Oh, by the way: General education high school like the one I’m going to is quite packed – it’s only 2 years (up to 12th grade), though normal high school goes to 13. You have to learn the same amount of stuff. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel like it’s too much for me. But I’m managing!