What is your high school life

Life in a high school

The experience of being able to get a taste of foreign high schools is unique! Since there is no division between Hauptschule and Realschule or Gymnasium abroad, you will meet a wide variety of people in your new school. But they all have one thing in common: this famous "high school spirit".

The term hides an incredibly strong sense of community, which, in addition to teaching, is mainly lived out in sporting events. Everyone involved wears clothes and jewelry in the school colors to demonstrate their affiliation and there is clapping and cheering right down to the last rows of the spectator stands.

Apart from that, of course, each school still has its own character. The size can also vary from a few hundred students to over a thousand. Biking or walking is usually not a common way of getting to school; often the parents drive their children by car or the pupil takes the school bus to school. The public bus is usually only taken if there is no other way.

Your jump into the cold water

When you come to your new school for the first time during your student exchange, you will surely be very excited, maybe also feel a little insecure among all the foreign young people. This is completely normal and happens to everyone who is changing schools! In America, at least the long corridors with the lockers will look familiar to you from various high school films.

At the beginning you will have to report to the secretary's office or to the office of a certain teacher who will give you a little introduction and probably inform you about the timetable. If you can't find the room, all you have to do is ask a student. Usually you won't be approached right away, but if you take a step closer to your new classmates, you will definitely get a nice response.

Your schedule

What class are you going to attend? What subjects will you have? These are probably the two questions you will most often ask yourself before your first day of school abroad. Since the school system in countries where a high school stay is possible usually consists of a course system, you will have different degrees of freedom, depending on the country and school, to put together your own schedule. It can happen to you that you have various exotic subjects to choose from that you don't even know from Germany. Or that you take a few courses where the age of the students varies.

The placement in the correct level will probably be carried out by a local teacher. Your performance certificates from the last year you completed in Germany are helpful. You may also have to make sure that you choose subjects that will be credited to you by your school after your return to Germany - please discuss this with your school in Germany. You should definitely keep in mind that some subjects, such as Romance languages, are rarely offered in many countries.

Otherwise, you can get help from the teachers when putting together your timetable, who can give you additional information about courses and teaching content. Sometimes a specific curriculum is mandated that allows little to no individual choice, but in major countries (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) there will be a pool of a handful of electives to choose from. In any case, it is important that you not only focus on grades, but also take "exotic" subjects that are not taught in Germany! The school day itself, with the start and end of lessons, the length of the hours and breaks, is very different depending on the country.

You usually spend more time at school than at home. Many students meet at school after their compulsory lessons for additional sports and other activities. You can also use these clubs to make new acquaintances - just like the lunch break, during which you can meet up with others in the cafeteria for a warm meal or a snack you have brought with you.

Your first lesson

To make a good first impression, you should definitely be on time. Coming too late is not welcomed anywhere. Once in the classroom, you may find it difficult at first not only to stare at the floor and quickly find a free seat.

But don't worry, depending on the size of the school, the students sometimes don't know each other very well because they are thrown together again and again due to the choice of course. So you and the teacher are no different from you! You can take advantage of this initial anonymity and start a harmless conversation. If the other students have not noticed before, at the latest when you open your mouth, they will notice that you are German. But you don't need to be ashamed of your pronunciation and your accent - that's why you're there: to improve your language skills. It is perfectly normal to have some adjustment difficulties and language misunderstandings, but you should stay tuned nonetheless. Because: You will get much better very quickly and you will see progress. That feels good!

If you make an effort with your assignments and work conscientiously, the teacher will also acknowledge it with approval. The lessons themselves will not be very different from home, although there are of course a few differences from country to country. You can expect that there will be a comparatively large amount of frontal teaching with a small amount of group work. And instead of "questioning", there are sometimes short tests every day to check what you have learned.

Note: In some countries you are expected to achieve a certain grade point average in school. So you have to really participate and not only can relax, even if you have to repeat the school year in Germany if necessary.

Your classmates

During your stay abroad, you will spend a lot of time in school, which of course you want to make as pleasant as possible. The high school is the ideal place to make new acquaintances. Be aware that there will be a lot of curious questions waiting for you, especially at the beginning, which will decrease over time because people have got used to you.

Then it is important to expand your vocabulary, to practice by simply speaking to people. You can be persistent, even if you have to overcome yourself or a few stupid answers come back. You will find it easiest to socialize in sports subjects and clubs, as the atmosphere is a little more relaxed and these courses have less of a teaching character than others.

It is possible that you will be perceived completely differently abroad than in Germany up to now. Your role in the class can suddenly be completely different. You can see this situation as a chance to try yourself out from scratch! The only important thing is that you stay open. Supporting the school, participating in events or helping out plays a major role in this.

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