Swedish vs American high schools

Emma Norin, Staff Reporter

During my past six months as a foreign exchange student at Los Banos High School, I have discovered that high schools are very different looking at the Swedish high school to the American high school that I am currently in. 

Sports, clubs, and school-spirit: something all Americans get to experience during their high school years. Homecoming, prom, winter formal, rallys, lunch games, etcetera. That’s something I have never seen before coming from Sweden. It may sound like Swedish schools are boring, which they obviously are compared to American schools. Since we don’t know anything else, no one complains about it, but I would lie if I said my senior year in Sweden won’t be incredibly boring compared to this. 

You might think “Her senior year in high school, isn’t she a senior this year?” Yes I am, but I am not graduating from school with this class. This might sound confusing, but the simple explanation is that American education will not count as Swedish education, and therefore I have to retake my last year back in Sweden. Why did I do all this then? One more year in school, most people would never do what I did. As I explained before, Swedish high schools are boring. I was bored my junior year and wanted to try something new. Why not! It was not an easy choice of course, leaving my whole world to move across the world by myself. It is scary, a little bit like a lottery. You do not know where you are going, who you are going to live with, or what people you are going to meet. 

Most exchange students do it to experience the high school spirit. Try sports, meet new people, and of course develop their English. I did not expect myself to grow so much as a person as I have. You have to be mentally strong and really independent. I think I will really appreciate all the challenges I have had during this year when I go back, because it gave me perspectives on life. 

My biggest reason for doing the exchange year was because of my sister, who went to Michigan in 2016. She told me how much her year gave her in life, but I still was not sure. Last winter, I was bored with my current life and I just thought “Why not?” It was a pretty random decision, and I do not think I was mentally ready for it honestly. Now that I have four months left here, I am starting to appreciate that I did it. I have experienced so much, good and bad. I just started swimming which I love, and also just won the title as Homecoming Queen together with Christian LoneTree. I had no expectations on winning at all, and for me being from another country not really knowing people here, it was very special to win. It was actually a really big challenge for me, so I am happy and proud that we did it. 

I am excited for all the other upcoming events during my last months here. Swimming, travelling with friends and family, concerts, prom, graduation night, graduation. Experiencing how other high schools and cultures work is really profitable for you, it gives you other perspectives on life.