I’ve been in German high school, or Gymnasium, for nearly one month now. Naturally, everyday life in Gymnasium has quite a few differences from American highschools. Though mundane, one of the most confusing aspects at first was my Stundenplan, or school schedule.
My high school in the United States uses an A/B block schedule, meaning that classes are divided into two blocks and meet on alternating days (A Days and B Days).The blocks are fixed throughout the year and, after memorizing my classes at the beginning of the year, my schedule is pretty predictable.
My schedule in Germany is a bit more chaotic. I have twelve courses, all of which meet for at least two hours per week. Some classes, like Biology or Religious Studies, are scheduled for two hours at a time, so I *only* meet with those classes once a week. As you can imagine, this complicates missing school due to sickness. Additionally, school starting and ending times are complicated. The typical school day here runs from 7:50 to 1:15 pm -- but even that is irregular due to afternoon classes and the occasional free period. I’ve attached a picture of my school schedule as a visual aid -- I know having it explained verbally can be confusing.
Just as I got used to my schedule, I was introduced to the equally important Vertretungsplan. This is a document that is posted on our student server and throughout the school. It lists substitute teachers, location changes, and class cancellations. In my American school, we usually weren’t told in advance when we had a substitute, so this (as well as the concept of cancelling classes altogether) is new to me. Thankfully my school is close to the Innenstadt, so gaps in my schedule caused by Ausfälle are easily filled.