Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

I’m not special!


The last weeks have been filled with positive experiences, especially when it comes to my high school degree.

When I started school I was very afraid I’d be a “weirdo”, I’d be labeled stupid and lazy because I didn’t have a high school degree in my early 20s. I wrote a post about how I found out that I wasn’t an “exception” and how great it was to go back to school – to be accepted as one of many going this way later in life.

The school system is simply different here, allowing people to leave school at the age of 16 (called a “mid degree”) if they wanted to do jobs you don’t go to university for. A carpenter for example, sales people, office jobs, lower career bank and lower career police jobs and so on. So not everyone has a high school degree – basically only people who want to go to university get it. Of course, it is possible for everyone to get a high school degree and go to university still. There are many who got their mid degrees, went through 3 year training to be, say, a lower police officer, and then want to go back to school for a higher police officer career. Hence it’s not looked down upon at all – it’s very normal for a 30-year-old to go back to school to improve his/her career!

And exactly this thinking people have here made me feel like I achieved something great. When people ask me what I do these days, I’m able to proudly say “I just got my high school degree so I can go to university!”. NOBODY, literally nobody!, looks at you funny. People nod and say “Oh great!”.

The main reason why I love this so much is because now, nobody asks me why I didn’t have any training. Everything I did in my life career wise becomes unimportant, because people think it’s great to learn something new. They don’t wonder, they don’t ask why I was a “stay at home daughter”. It’s all unimportant now. I’m not the “weird American fundamentalist girl” anymore. I’m the girl who went back to school in her 20s.

A few days ago Daniel’s Mom invited us over for afternoon coffee and cake in her garden. It’s actually a very common thing to go for coffee and cake at 4 PM. Many do it every day. Mrs Daniel’s neighbor was working in her garden and came over for a quick chat. Daniel’s Mom introduced me and the neighbor asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I just finished high school, she looked at me, nodded and said “Oh my, you went back to school? That’s great!” Then she told us the story of her nephew who did the same at 26 and is now an engineer. She finished by padding Daniel on the back and saying “Smart one you got yourself there!”. I smiled, simply happy that she didn’t know, didn’t ask about the past.

Finally, finally I’m not so strange any more. Yes, life is so good when you can make your own choices!


11 thoughts on “I’m not special!

  1. There’s nothing like the freedom to have the choice to be the you, you want to be!
    To be uniquely you, while being normal… just like everyone else.

  2. Pingback: Worthwhile Reads: A random assortment

  3. That is fantastic! What a great way to think about education.

  4. Actually I am pretty sure that an American high school degree is the same as a German Realschulabschluss (mid-level degree), and the thing people are taking evening classes for (Abitur) is more like an undergraduate college degree, as far as I know. So I guess you are actually accomplishing more than just a high school diploma equivalent 🙂

    • Well, I don’t know what people really do in American high schools so I can’t add anything, but it sounds interesting, I should look into it.

    • Afaik high school is the same more or less in both countries but college and university, who are separate entities in the US, are the same for European countries.

      For example, here in Spain after finishing HS I didn’t need to do an undergraduate but directly went to Medical career in university but it is 6 years (5 years and one of practices in Germany if I remember it okay) whereas in the US they have done some general biology courses before and medical school is shorter. Medical school might not be the best example because it’s different than the majority of careers but it’s simply an example.

      Wereas in the US it is undergratuate, graduate and PhD (they also have vocational or technical schools), in many European countires the new system is Bachelor Degree and Master Degree but the gimnassium education would still be equivalent to a HS diplome in the US.

      One typical confussion is that college isn’t the same in the US and UK, in UK there’re two HS systems and in one of them that’s portrayed in many TV series but I think it’s being eliminated the last 2 years of secondary education, that is HS, were you take your A levels are a separate entity called college, nothing at all like the US college.

      Anyway, if I’m wrong, I’d appreciate if someone could tell me 😛

      • Yes, here in the UK we have Further Education and Higher Education – further education can be attended once you’re 16. You can do A-levels, Btechs, foundation degress and all sorts of vocational courses. High Education is for 17+ and mainly consists of universities (although some colleges have HE status by virtue of being associated to and accredited by a university). High Education is for Bachelors, Masters, Doctorates etc.

        It sounds like you have found the right place to be!

  5. Awesome!
    We are all a bit weird one way or another but all of us want to feel normal, included and appreciated from time to time and that’s people who haven’t lived isolated or had to overcome the hardships you have. I’m very happy for you.
    Here we also have that snack time but as we have lunch, our bigger meal of the day, at around 2 or 3PM, some people have a dessert-like snack or sandwitch around 5-7PM to stave off appetite until dinner at 9-11PM dinner.

    • Oh we never had dinner THAT late, neither did anybody we knew. That just doesn’t work out when everybody goes to bed at 9 or 10 and the small ones even earlier, 7 or 8. But we did have breakfast real early every day simply because the small ones get up at 5-6 AM and start asking for food. One thing my Mom always tried to do was having the entire family meet for breakfast and dinner – it hardly ever works in a big family! We didn’t really have set times for snacks and such because the kitchen gets too messy and crowded.

  6. Here in Denmark you can leave school after your 9th grade. After that you can study either vocational (more practical) degrees and education, or you can choose more educational-oriented degrees as preperation for university. Our ‘gymnasium’ is kind of a mix between the last years of high school and the first years of college.

  7. And how far you can come with doing your Abitur later in life shows our former Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder. He came from a really poor background, so he had only Hauptschulabschluss first. But he went to Abendschule, made his Abitur and then studied law and even got a doctorate. It’s not too rare in Germany. My father finished school with mittlere Reife and learned then a profession. After the law he worked for a few years in this profession, but then went into a school and became a protestantic preacher.

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