A Foreign View: Whining about school needs to stop

Phia Papenbroock, Journalist

Americans need to stop whining about school. Visiting an American high school showed me how fun a typical school day is in comparison to my German high school experience.

In my German school, students are not allowed to have their phones visibly with them. Teachers are allowed to take it from you whenever it is showing in class or on campus, unless you get official permission from a teacher.

Free Wi-Fi in school and having the opportunity to be on your phone is still an entire new world for me. There were many days in Germany where I did not even bring my phone to school. There was no point since I would get in trouble if someone saw it.

What frustrates me is that some students I observed at Northwest are abusing this privilege. There are students who text every day through the entire class and have earbuds in for most of the time, and for me this is just extremely disrespectful.

I’m checking my phone in class too, but I try to do that during the time, when phones are allowed, and not in the middle of class. I have to agree with the teachers; phone usage is getting excessive.

In Germany, I am in school until 4 p.m. every day and have 12 classes per week. I have around 20 exams each semester, and I spend at least one week, sometimes even a month, studying before an exam. We do not have multiple choice tests and teachers expect you to turn in assignments when they are due because you do not get extensions. It can be incredibly hard.

It can be fun to be the foreigner, since the teachers, but also the students ask me questions about Germany and the differences to America. The culture is not that different to the American one, but definitively the entire school system and the atmosphere.

In Germany I was not really enjoying school. Having friends in my classes was the only positive thing, but there was not even a lot of time to spend time with them. My school does not have assemblies, spirit wear or dances. Students are supposed to focus on school only which takes all the fun away.

In America it is about the whole experience. It is about having fun, becoming an individual person and showering pride in your school. Here, I love going to school and even spending time here afterwards. It is a friendly place where teachers want you to grow as a person.

It is confusing to me why so many Americans whine about high school. American high school is fun. If American would have experienced foreign school, German school in specific, they would probably understand me and my perspective, because some of the students here should be a little more grateful for being able to learn in such a nice atmosphere.