October 1st, 2019
Today, instead of working in the usual class, the other students in my program and I went to Norra Real to meet and talk with students in the English 7 class. Because I already work at the school, I was already acquainted with many of the students and knew my way around the school but it was a really interesting experience being able to talk with the students in a more casual setting about their school experience, their lives, and Stockholm in general.
All of the students spoke excellent English and were very nice and friendly. My overall impression is that high school in Stockholm is much more relaxed than high school in the United States, at least my own high school. The schedule is much more relaxed, and is more similar to a college schedule. The students start and end at different times depending on what day of the week is it and they have much more free time in their days. What was also interesting was that students could choose different tracks within the high school. At Norra Real, they could choose between social sciences or natural sciences. This is quite different from the United States, where many high schools require students to take four years of every subject, no matter the students’ interests.
There are about 1,000 students at Norra Real, which was more than I was expecting considering the physical size of the school and from what I have observed in the hallways. Many of the students did not seem to know each other, despite the fact that they were in the same grade. I found this to be interesting because at my high school, that had about the same number of students per grade, I feel like I knew the names of most everyone in my graduating class. This could potentially be attributed to the fact that there is not a direct path throughout schools, connecting elementary schools to middle schools to high schools. The students live all around Stockholm and the surrounding towns. The commute times vary greatly from student to student. For some getting to school is a 5 minute walk and for others it is over an hour of public transportation.
Another very large difference was that students did not have set plans for after graduation. I feel like in high schools in the United States, the future is constantly stressed. In my high school, the “college process” began at the end of Freshman year. I asked some of the students what their plans were when they finish in the spring and many of them were unsure and planned to travel and then figure it out.