Differences Between High Schools in U.S. and Taiwan

April 22, 2018

I was halfway through my junior in high school when I moved to the U.S. a decade ago. I took half a year off from school, so naturally, when I enrolled for the fall, I had to start as a junior again. I spent one and a half year in Taiwanese high school and two years in the U.S. one. There are so many differences between the school systems, and I thought it would be interesting for me to share my experience and what I saw during those years of being a high schooler.



*Note: High schools in Taiwan start from 10th grade. This is totally my personal experience; I went to a private school in Taiwan and a public school in the U.S. They are both fairly small schools.



U.S. - This is something I know before I came to the U.S.; I've learned about this from watching American movies and series. Students in the U.S. do not have a set classroom; they have to change room for each class. Because of that, we also do not have the same classmates, too. Though we do have homerooms, where we can get together in the morning before class starts, it was only for a very short period of time. And as the result, we have our own lockers for personal belongings, such as book bags and textbooks.


Taiwan - However, it's the other way around in Taiwan. Students are assigned to the same classroom with the same classmates for every course; it has been this way ever since I was in kindergarten. The teachers will come to your classroom (except for some specialty classes like PE or lab). Since we're all in the same room, we have our own set of desks and drawers instead of lockers.



U.S. - First class starts between 8 to 9 o’clock in the morning ( I don't remember the exact time since it's like... years ago). School buses usually arrive a little before 8. And before the first class, we get together in the homeroom and wait for the daily announcement. There are six periods each day, and the last class ends around 3 o’clock. Breaks in between classes are like 4 to 5 minutes, enough for us to go back to our lockers and get what we need for the next class. 


Taiwan - Though the first class doesn't start till after 8, we have to be in school before 7:30 (otherwise it’s considered late and you can get written up). In my school, everyone has an assigned area in the classroom where we have to clean in the morning. I remember for one semester I was assigned to sweep the aisle between the first two rows in the classroom. Once every week we will have morning assembly, where the entire school gather together and listen to the weekly updates and announcements. Other mornings where we don't have the assembly, we would just have study hall in the morning till the first class. There are usually 7 or 8 periods every day, and we get out around 5. Breaks between classes are 10 minutes.



U.S. - In my high school, since the whole school eats lunch in the cafeteria, we actually have two lunch periods. Our cafeteria usually provides two main dishes (one is always pizza); if I feel like having neither of them, there are also pre-made sandwiches I can choose as well. And continue down the line after we pass all the main dishes, we can get some sides like salad or applesauce. At the end of the line, near the register, of course, are some cookies and other snacks. I usually don't bring my own lunch, so I would stay in line with other students to get my food. And 8 out of 10 times I would give in and get a nutty bar as my snack.


Taiwan - The school I go to in Taiwan has some different options for lunch: students can go home and have lunch if they live nearby, or parents can bring lunch to them. The most popular option, which is also the one that I choose, is to order from school. Everyone eats lunch at the same time. The food is packed in different boxes and delivered to our classroom by the lunch company. There are usually rice with different choices of vegetables and meats, and we will also have soup. It's really simple, you get a plate and a bowl, get your food, and go back to your classroom and eat! The best thing though, to me, is the time that comes after lunch. Because we spend such long hour in school, we actually have a 30-minute nap time! We just simply lie on the desk and rest till the afternoon classes start.



Of course, these are not the only differences; education systems vary in every country. But these are what I found the most obvious and interesting differences that I thought would be fun to make a post about. 



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