Imagine having a daily life in an American school where you have to constantly deal with boring teachers, horrible cafeteria food, and annoying classmates that drives you insane. One day, you had an invitation to be a foreign exchange student in Japan. While you're excited since you'll be going into a totally different culture and having many unexpected adventures, you're concerned about the culture shock and how different daily life in Japanese schools really is compared to American schools.
So, I am going to explain the 10 differences between Japanese and American Schools.
1. School Year
Americans schools mostly would start the school year in mid-August or early September and would finish in mid-May the following year. With holidays, long breaks, and weekends, the American school year consists of 180 days. However, in Japanese schools, they start the school year in early April and finishes in March the following year. Even with any duration of breaks, Japanese school year consists of the minimum of 210 days and the maximum of 250 days in an entire year, 50-70 days more than American schools.
（￣へ￣）That means more homework, more exams, and more chances of trying your best to stay awake during class time in Japanese schools.
American students tend to mostly use the school bus or a car (either their car or their parents) to travel their way to school since the majority of students tend to live kinda far away from the school. However, in Japan, some kids would even walk to school since they tend to live close to school and Japan doesn't have any school buses. So students that lived far away from their school tend to use the subway trains as their main transportation for school. Some would use only one train to travel while others use two or more trains.
I would rather walk my way to school depending on how close the school is because trying to remember the train routes to school... Yeah... No thanks (◍´͈ꈊ`͈◍)
3. Failing Grades
American students that haven't got the best score on the subjects they're struggling with would have the chance to either have a second chance to pass it but losing their summer vacation or they have to repeat a grade. In Japan,... it's kinda the opposite...
Japanese students that either not doing really well on exams or even not coming to class are shocking can't really fail and would go to the next grade regardless. This has become a huge shocker for Americans and other Westerners since they are in the system of mastering the lessons before moving on to the next.
For Japanese schools, they're more focused on how well a student can do in entrance exams no matter if they failed a grade. Kids that haven't done well in school but do extremely well in cram school can have a great chance of passing entrance exams.
But this culture shock is more of an envy for many American kids since they have to be held back a grade.
4. Entrance Exams
Speaking of entrance exams, the only time that American students do "entrance exams" is for the ACT and/or SAT exams to get into a university they're interested in. The schools they attended in the past doesn't really matter in the American education system. As long as you fit in the requirements for your dream college, then it wouldn't be so hard.
For Japanese students, it's complete torture...ಗಾ ﹏ ಗಾ
In Japan, students have to take entrance exams to even go on a good elementary school. Then, they have to do it again for junior high school, then senior high school, then college. Plus, the reputation of the schools they attended will factor out their chances of attending. The more positive the reputation, the better the chances. Even one bad school would hurt their chances of attending their dream college.
Yeah...That's not stressful at all...(╯•﹏•╰)
5. Home Economics
Japan does have many unexpected things that half or even almost all American schools don't have. For example, rather than having a janitor to clean the school, Japanese students actually clean their homeroom themselves. Also, there are cooking and sewing classes for all students needed for adulthood. The shocking thing about it is they start IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!┌╏ º □ º ╏┐
Hundreds (or even thousands) of American schools don't have even one home economic class and will hurt the students in the long run, making them incapable to have skills needed for adulthood.
So, by the looks of it, a Japanese schoolkid could cook a lot better than most American college students.
6. Summer vacations
American students (and most teachers') favorite time of the year is the very last day of the school year. The final bell rings and everyone leaves out for the summertime. In America, summer vacation lasts over 2 or almost 3 months starting from mid-May to early September.
Japan's summer vacation starts on mid-July or early August and ends in mid-September. A mere...five weeks of summer vacation...and they are still assigned homework for the summer.
The one time it's not fun in the summertime...
Schools in America only have the graduation ceremonies to graduate the students that finished their education in high school and college. In Japan, they have both entrance ceremonies (to welcome the new students) and graduation ceremonies (to congratulate the graduates).
They do it on all four stages of school life: elementary, junior high, senior high, and college. The difference between the two ceremonies is that graduation ceremonies are more meaningful and filled with emotions since they finished one stage of life and begin the next stage.
So there will be more of this: (˃̩̩̥ɷ˂̩̩̥)(˃̩̩̥ɷ˂̩̩̥)(˃̩̩̥ɷ˂̩̩̥)
8. Substitute Teachers
A student's second dream come true is to come into class and find out they have a substitute teacher. So that means 90% of the time there will be no work, people playing music on their phones, and chatting with their friends freely.
In Japan, they don't have any substitute teachers and they let the students control the classroom themselves.
Why would they let the students take control of the classroom without and adult supervision? That's so irresponsible.⊙０⊙
The reason is that they are trusted to do their work without adults correcting them.
Kinda gutsy for Japan because it'll be complete chaos if that flies in America.
American students would go from one classroom to the next so they can learn many different subjects from different teachers. It can be troublesome since there are students that have to go from one side of the school to the next in order to go to their assigned classroom.
Also, since they're going to many different classrooms, that means seeing different students.
In Japan, the students have to stay in their homeroom and they'll have the same teacher for the entire school year. The reason being is for students to have a family-like relationship that is unique for every classroom and learning how they can handle with peers. Since Japanese students don't go from one teacher to another, Japanese teachers need to be an all-around teacher: learning many different subjects for one person.
As long as I don't have to bump into anyone in the hallways on an hourly basis, I am happy with that. （⌒▽⌒）
10. College Life
The final stage for a young person's life is dealing with the college life where it's home to the "best four years of your life". Right...(◔_◔)
For Americans, those "best four years of your life" is mostly dealing with financial aid, all-nighters, and STRESSFUL final exams. For an average American college student, it's hair-pulling stressful.
However, Japanese college life is known as being the "spring break of your life". I'll explain!
Even though entrance exams are super stressful for Japanese students going to college, for people that passed it, college life in Japan is super easy compared to America. For some classes, as long you're in attendance, you're passing. Other classes, you can actually skip class, do a report at the end of the semester, and still be able to pass.
As a result, it's perfectly normal for a ton of Japanese students to skip class and spend time with their friends and travel the world.
So a country with stressful entrance exams has the easiest college life.
(ﾉꐦ ⊙曲ఠ)ﾉ彡┻━┻ Lucky......
I hope you're able to learn something new! \(^v^)/
If you want to read more, I suggest you to check out my article about Shiba Inu, Japan’s Notable Treasure.