Monday, November 4, 2013

thoughts on switzerland -- 10 non-school things I've learned from school

some (most) of you reading this blog know that I was formerly homeschooled.
This means that my first experience in public school is in another country speaking another language. I find this really funny.
That said, Swiss high school isn't really like American high school for several different reasons. I've learned a lot about both the European attitude towards school and the general Swiss mindset towards the younger generation by being here.

 And so, here are some of the main differences/ideas that I've noticed, as an exchange student, a homeschooler, and a high schooler. (If you'd like to know the facts about Swiss high school and a little description of what I'm doing there, you can read my post here.)

oh, and these pictures don't actually have anything to do with school. they are just pictures of switzerland that I found on my camera. :P

subjects I've learned to appreciate:
  1. science, math, and physics. because they are the same in every language. (also because physics and math are way, way better in the metric than in the english system.)
  2. foreign languages. because it's nice to know that you are not the only one who sounds like a caveman in a language that is not your own.
  3. history. because things are different when you have touched them and heard them and walked inside of them, because events are different when you have stood in the very spot someone else once did, because people are different when they have a story.
people I've learned to appreciate:
  1. teachers. because they really do want you to learn, and in general they are looking out for your best interests. (I know this isn't the same for all exchange students, but for the most part I really like my teachers and I think they like me. then again, I think my class has a lot of the nice teachers.)
  2. people. the people who are willing to overcome not only the normal social walls, but language barriers, cultural barriers, and the awkwardness of an exchange student in order to talk to you.
  3. and of course the other exchange students. because we are a family. :)
things I've learned to appreciate: 
  1. tests. not because they are easy or because I am good at them (on average, it takes me the same amount of time to understand the questions on my economics test as it does for the others to answer them), but because then I am closer to being a normal student. Because then, I can learn for the test and study and pretend that I am nothing beyond a Swiss girl doing school work.
  2. trains. you'd be surprised by how much I like the trains here, because they are on schedule and because they are full of people and because the riding to and from school is, to some extent, a way to prepare and wind down from my day at school.
  3. age. Almost everyone in Gymnasium and FMS Muttenz is between the ages of 15 and 20 years old, which is about 1-2 years older than normal American high school. This makes a huge difference. I'm not sure why, but it's just that the general maturity level is higher... then again, that might also be due to the last point on this list...
  4. everyone who is in Gymi and FMS wants to be there. In Switzerland, you can get an apprenticeship after you turn 15, or you can continue with school. This ultimately means that if you are in Gymnasium, you have the grades and the motivation to stay in. At the end of the first semester (January) those with insufficient scores are dropped from the school. While this initially seemed really harsh to me, I'm realizing that here kids are expected to take more initiative in their own education. That nothing here is keeping them, really, except that they want to be here. And for the most part, it shows.
...and that concludes my rather randomized list of things I've learned to appreciate from school. I'm actually liking this list idea...

till next time,



  1. Hannah, I can't remember if I already said this on a previous post but I love reading your blog. Your writing style is awesome and I love hearing about your adventures in Switzerland! I enjoy every post. :)

    1. Haha, thank you, Erin! that made my day :)


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