I have now been going to school in Chile for two months. Because of this, I have noticed the many differences between school here and school in the US. School here has helped me progress so much with my knowledge of Spanish, make new friends, and obviously learn other materials as well! I am so grateful to be able to be here and sad that today marks the halfway point in my trip. Here are some differences:
This one is a pretty obvious one and the first one I think of. Every day, we have to wear a uniform to school. The normal uniform for girls is a plaid skirt, grey socks, black shoes, and a blue shirt on top. Then, there is a uniform for gym class which we have once a week. This uniform is gray sweatpants with a blue line on the leg and a gray shirt on top (gotta love the groutfit)! When I first heard about the uniform I was super worried because if you know me you know I love all my different clothes, however, the uniform actually is not too bad! Getting ready in the morning takes less time and the uniform is more relaxed than I expected (I can wear my own sweatshirts as long as they are navy or black). Although this took some time getting used to, overall, it’s not too bad!
In the US we are all used to changing classes for each subject. With this comes a different group of classmates. However, in Chile, there is no such thing. The class you are put in is the class that you stay with every year. In my school, we have two sections for our grade. In some grades there are more than two and in some there is only one section. This could be a bad situation if you don’t get along with your classmates however usually this just results in very close relationships between your section. However, just because there are different sections doesn’t mean the whole grade doesn’t bond. We also have an option in classes which is Cientifico- extra biology, chemistry, and math, or Humanista- extra english, language, and history. In these classes the sections are mixed with all the cientificos in one class and the humanistas in another regardless of which section you're in.
During school, we have many breaks. Every two blocks of class, we get a 15 minute break. Our lunch period is an entire hour. Although this makes the school day much longer, having a time to breathe, eat, and hang out with friends during the school day is a much needed rest!
The grading system here is one of the biggest differences. Instead of receiving a grade as a percentage, everything is graded on a scale of 1-7. Anything below a four is not a passing grade. Not only are grades based on this scale but so are the gradings in TV shows such as Rojo, a popular show similar to American Idol and Dancing with The Stars combined. This scale takes some time to get used to and I’m honestly not sure that I have fully gotten used to it yet!
One of the first things I was told when I arrived in Chile was, “homework is illegal”! This statement is surprisingly not all that misleading. While we occasionally have activities that we have to do mostly given for the purpose of studying, homework theoretically doesn't exist. Obviously, when there are tests we are expected to study and we are still given projects and presentations to do however, for the most part, we don’t have homework. I will definitely miss this aspect.
Teachers and Classes:
The relationship between the teachers and students here is much different from that in the US. While we definitely have our favorite teachers, the closeness is very different. The teachers are very caring with all the students and if a student is ever late, they always kiss the teacher on the cheek (the greeting here). Also, students frequently cuddle up to the teachers when they want something and even massage them! The classes themselves are definitely less scheduled than classes in the US. While we obviously have lots of material to learn, the classes are much more relaxed and we often take much more time to complete a couple of problems than the amount of time we are usually given in the US.
Overall, there are many differences between school in the US and school in Chile. Some things have been super easy to get used to while others have taken some time. Patience is very important in studying abroad! It is very interesting to have a new perspective of schooling and have an appreciation for the US education system.