Four Months in Sweden
My post on here have been sparse due to the business of my exchange. I have a hard program in school as well as many events I have been attending, and I find it hard to fit writing blogs in my schedule. None of the less, I am back. I thought I would explain the differences between American Highschool and Swedish Highschool because it’s a question I often get. Many Swedes ask me questions related to the movies they watch and wonder if what they see on TV is what happens in actual highschool. Usually I have to let them down easy, but it’s often fascinating to hear what they believe highschool is like in the States.
First, school. School is much different here than in America. For example, everyone in Gymnasiet (which is equivalent to High School) is split up into programs. The programs include Natural Science, Technology, Engineering, Economics, Social Sciences and more. I’m in the Natural Science program which means I have classes like Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Math. All of your classes are situated depending on what program you chose, so if you have Technology you are going to have more math classes and be working with computer programming and if you have Natural Science you will be working with all of the core science subjects.
In a way, Gymnasiet is set up more like a community college than a highschool. The classes and times when you take classes are different everyday. One day you might have 5 classes and the next you will only have two. Another way it’s like a community college is that it is not mandatory to go to gymnasiet. Although the chances of you getting a substantial job is very small you will not be obligated by law to go. In addition, what program you choose in gymnasiet will guide you to what profession you want in the future. In a way, swedish teens have to have a general idea of what they want to do from a young age.
For me, Natural Science is really hard. It’s the most advanced program you can be in and I’m learning everything in a language I hardly understand. Although my grades don’t matter, the program itself has its own expectations that everyone has to meet, exchange student or not. Right now I’m trying my best by learning core subjects with IB Continuum books that my teachers have given me. I’m still way behind the rest of the class, but I feel that they see that I’m trying, which helps me be more included in activities. I would have requested going a year below, but with the whole family dynamic my class has, I feel like the new sibling that everyone wants to be nice to and be friends with. I’m not sure if I want to leave everyone especially this far in, even though I won’t feel very included in the academics.
Besides that, I have experienced that when I say I’m in High School, many people get confused and think I’m much younger than I actually am. This is because the school before Gymnasiet is Högskolan, which directly translates to High School, but is the equivalent to Middle School. So, often in a conversation I have to take the extra step in comparing High School to Gymnasiet. This is interesting, because as stated before Gymnasiet is compared to a community college, so it would make sense that that the school below is High School
Overall I thoroughly enjoy school in Sweden. I like how it’s set up that people who want to learn and thrive in school are all in classes together. The classes are situated toward students interest, so you will have less of a chance getting students who are disruptive in the same classes of people who want to learn. I think that is what I like the most about Swedish High School because I often struggled trying to learn with people who didn’t have the same work ethic as me.