A Foreign View: View of new American school

Phia Papenbroock, Journalist

It has been nearly two months since I left my home country Germany and started my 10 month exchange year here in the United States. Attending a typical American high school has made me notice a lot of differences in comparison to my school in Germany so far.
I was sitting in the back of the car on the way to my new home, coming from the airport, when my host mom told me that I am going to be a senior this year. I was pretty shocked.
Since I just finished my freshman year in Germany, it was quite a surprise for me to skip two years. But now I’m going to graduate from here and after that I’m going to continue my sophomore year in Germany after the summer break.
Everybody who has their locker near mine has probably seen me struggling to open it in the first days because we only have lockers with keys in Germany. I actually like them now, but at first it was quite challenging to open them.
Only the juniors and seniors have a mixed class system like they do here in America. The years before that, you stay in the same class for three years each and have every class with those people.
Though the high school is finally cutting back on dress code requirements, there are no rules when it comes to school clothing in Germany. Students can literally go to school in underwear; and yes, there are some girls who feel comfortable sitting in a bralette and tiny shorts in front of their math teacher.
When somebody told me that there is free wi-fi at Northwest I was extremely happy. In my German school, teachers are allowed to take your phones away at any time; no matter if it’s in the hall, class, or during lunch. So getting free wi-fi from the school was, and still is, quite a big deal to me.
The grading system is completely different in America. In Germany, 60 percent of your final grade is determined by your behavior and participation during class. Only 40 percent of your grade is from your exams and tests.
The only way you can retake tests is if more than 50 percent of the entire class failed, which rarely happens. Students have the same schedule for the whole school year but have around 12 classes, so every day of the week is different.
A lot of people have been asking how I like America so far and I always tell them that it is so much fun here due to all the nice people, the school spirit, and the friendly atmosphere wherever I go.
There are many new things which I needed to learn first and I still need to get used to, but I am really grateful to have the opportunity to study abroad.