a trip to my homecountry: high school sucks worldwide


Hello, fellow bloggers!

First of all, I really want to say thank you for all the love this feature got on my first post. I’m happy that you all are willing to support it, because I was very hesitant on sharing these posts, as I didn’t know if they’d perform well compared to my other ones. But you guys seemed to really like the idea of me sharing more about life in Brazil, so I’m excited to carry on with it.

For today’s post, I’ll be sharing a little bit about my high school experience – how schools work in Brazil, the college entrance process, etc. Please, share in the comments down below any particular memories from your personal high school experience, as I’d love to know!

Resultado de imagem para high school musical 2 gif
how we all thought high school was going to look like

FIRST. Public schools vs. private schools

My country definitely has a lot of issues, politically-wise. I’m sure you’ve heard that our country just elected a guy worse than Trump and all of our many corruption scandals. The reason why I’m mentioning this is because poor administration is reflected a lot on public schools.

Most public schools in my country have very bad infra-structure. The teachers aren’t well paid and, sometimes, are required to teach subjects they’re not even specialists on. The books are outdated, kids don’t have meals and it’s pretty bad conditions overall.

So private schools are, in fact, very, very common. I was privileged enough to only study in private schools throughout my whole life. The infrastructure is definitely a lot better, we have updated materials and some of the best teachers we could have. The better the school is, obviously, the more expensive it is.

This is just a general overview. There are a few public schools who are outstanding in their methods and have very good results in national exams. These are exceptions, though, and you have go through an admission process in order to get into them.

SECOND. Public universities vs. private universities

Now, if you got the idea that: “private schools are better than public schools“, you actually have the opposite when it comes to universities.

Public universities are some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Obviously, the admission process is a lot harder too. A few private universities also hold the same prestige – though they’re hella expensive -, but most don’t offer as good of an education.

(Just to clarify: public and private here mean exactly what they’re supposed to mean. I know that for universities in the US, you have to pay expensive tuitions no matter what, but in Brazil, public institutions mean you don’t have to pay a single thing).

It’s a huge paradox, if you really think about it.

People who can afford private schools end up being much ahead of the ones who can’t, obviously. They have better infrasctruture, teachers and curriculums. So for public college entrance exams, these people tend to get the best grades, and get in. Which means that people who can not afford private schools also can not afford private universities and it becomes a much more complex problem than I can describe. But just to show that education is a huge issue in my country’s reality.

THIRD. College entrance exams

In Brazil, college entrance exams are called “vestibular“. It’s an exam covering all subjects, from Sociology to Physics, and it pretty much defines whether or not you’ll get into college. You can only take them once a year.

I know some countries take into consideration your entire high school performance, such as awards and GPA, but not around here, sadly. It’s all up to that one test.

Each institution has their own exam, so it’s not like a general SATs. The only exam that is accepted by several universities is called ‘ENEM‘ and you can enter to both private and public colleges with this one.

FOURTH. What high school truly looks like

Now, this is the part of the post in which I share my personal experiences. In any way, this is an example of the life of every Brazilian student. My experience was pretty out of the ordinary, but I wanted to briefly share anyway.

For my last year of high school, I had tests every Satruday morning. Waking up on a weekend and going to school is just as awful as it sounds. Every week, I had to study for a different subject. In my country, you can’t really take electives and “choose” what you’re going to study. Every subject is mandatory for your graduation.

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My favorite subjects were History and Maths. I absolutely loathed Chemistry, Philosophy and Literature.

On top of that, some Sundays, I had to be in school again, taking tests that we call “simulados“. It’s basically a prep for our college entrance exams: looks exactly the same, has similar questions, takes the same time. It’s the best way to prepare for the *actual* day, since you can only take a college entrance exam once a year. (I think these exist in other countries, but I forgot what they’re called? Help).

I didn’t have any extracurriculars in my senior year – we simply didn’t have time. Classes ran from 7 a.m till 2 p.m, with two twenty-minute breaks in between. P.E is required in my country, but most of us ditched it to study and the teachers didn’t care at all.

The only thing I remember truly enjoying during my high school time was an event called ‘Festa Junina‘. I’ll explain more about it in future posts, but it’s my favorite holiday in all year, and one of the few school festivities I’ve always taken part in, every year.

Soooo… That’s it! I apologize for the long post, but I hope it was informative in any way. I’m really curious about what high school looks like in your country, as well as the college admission process. I feel like I’m familiar with the one in the US, because that’s what most books and movies cover, but not at all in the rest of the world! Let me know in the comments! 💛




22 comentários sobre “a trip to my homecountry: high school sucks worldwide

  1. This is so fascinating, I hope you continue to write posts under this feature! In the U.S., each state has their own requirements for what a high school student needs to graduate, and in particular each high school itself has their own requirements. So for the state of California, where I’m from, high school students don’t need any P.E. classes to graduate — but my school requires 2 years, so that kind of sucked 😅

    In general I’ve gotten a lot of freedom to choose my own elective courses, from the foreign languages I’ve wanted to take, to art classes and photography classes, etc. We’re encouraged to choose classes based on what kind of college we want to attend — community college, a college in the University of California system, private colleges… it all depends.

    I learned so much from this post! Thank you for sharing this! 😊

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    • Thank you, Zoie!
      I’m so sorry you had to go through P.E, hahah. It was my least favorite thing in the whole world. It’s interesting that in the US each state has their regulations, which makes it for very diverse situations for a lot of teenagers. In Brazil, all laws related to education work the same across the whole country.
      I’d have loved to choose my elective courses back in high-school! I’d have for sure skipped Chemistry, hahah.
      Thanks for the comment, Zoie! 💛

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  2. I loved reading this post! I feel like we really only get to see the American school system in media today. And I’m so sorry about the fact that you had to sacrifice your Saturdays and Sundays for tests :(( In the Philippines, I know a lot of the public schools are horribly undersupplied and overcrowded. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from my yaya (basically a nanny) who’s from the province! But I’ve been lucky enough to go to a private school my entire grade school and current high school life. Though my schoolmates and I love to make fun of our school, I really do think that we’re better off than most others. There’s really nothing special about our system I guess, high school grades are taken into consideration for college entrance exams, though! The three main universities that a lot of the seniors in my university aim for are dlsu, admu & up! Honestly, most people (not all though), pass dlsu & admu. But UP is a different story! It’s because Tagalog is a big part of its entrance exams and a lot of us at my school are primarily English speakers with limited knowledge on the Philippine language. I’m one of those people, so I reallyyyy need to work on improving my Tagalog so that I can hopefully pass! I really do want to pass it even though I don’t want to study here. That’s also why I’m thinking of becoming an international baccalaureate, a program that my school recently got approved for! This comment is so long already and probably really incoherent, but I just wanted to say that I love this series and getting a slice of life from different countries!

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    • Thank you so much, Caitlin!
      Your comment was super interesting! I feel like the same happens with Brazil’s public schools, which really is a shame.
      As for learning both languages in order to get into an institution: that is fascinating! In Brazil, even though we learn English and Spanish throughout high school, college entrance exams require only the basic. It’s nice thinking of a bilingual country on its own, like the Philippines!
      Thank you so much for the amazing comment! ❤️

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  3. I love reading posts like this!
    In my school in England we have to do PE throughout the whole of high school but get to drop an hour each year (so in year 7 we did 5 hours a fortnight and in year 11 you do 1 a fortnight) But then we have 6th form, which is 2 years between high school & university where we get to study 3-4 subjects of our choosing and don’t have to do anything else! University is determined by our GCSEs (taken in year 10/11) and our A levels (taken in sixth form)
    Hope that was interesting and not just a bunch of boring information! 😂

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    • El, that was actually super interesting!
      It’s so fascinating to me that in each country, people gradute from school at different ages? I have friends in university who are seventeen (!), whereas I don’t think this would be possible in England’s school system, since you mentioned the two years between high-school & uni. I do think it’s an important moment, though, because you get to study subjects of your own choosing and slowly figure out exactly what you want to study.
      Thank you so much for sharing! 😌

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  4. Again, a very informative post! In Canada I was happy to not have to take any entrance exam into university. If I had to take the SAT’s or any other test it would just add way more to my stress levels lol! But we do have the same relative structure as Brazil in the sense that public universities are actually more prestigious than the private ones. Private ones are few and far between in my province as well.

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    • Entrance exams are definitely nerve-wracking. I remember that I spent the entire week before my test feeling sick to my stomach and waking up and going to sleep everyday with nothing but the thought of that test. It was stressful, but thankfully it worked out okay at the end!
      Thank you so much for sharing, Em! 💞


  5. This was such an interesting post to read, thank you for writing it! Reading this seemed kind of reminiscent of learning about high school in Germany in that there’s One Big Test that you have to take that will determine your qualifications for entering school? Also, I totally see what you mean about the corrupt systems of university and how only the rich can usually go to good schools :// I think that can also apply to taking the SAT and things like that

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    • Thank you, Julianna!
      I do completely agree with you about how the system just always works towards the ones with more money. One of my favorite Netflix movies is called Candy Jar, and they actually discuss this issue a lot! It was pretty fascinating for me, because I like to think that all Americans are already privileged from living in America – which is true, but also kinda dumb, lol – and it was important to see that everyone’s struggling in a way, because the system is unfortunate all around!
      Thank you so much for stopping by! 😊


  6. Hey,
    I always love these kind of posts. Foreign countries are so interesting to me and I love to learn more about your home country, so thank you!
    Fortunately, we have mostly public schools in Germany which have a good reputation (even better reputation than private school). Germans often think that you were to bad to go to ‚real‘ public school/university when you have a degree from private school. That kind of sucks but is probably better than having such a big gap between public and private education like in your country.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Lea!
      It’s super interesting to me to learn about it as well. I do wish my country had public schools that were even better than private ones! Unfortunately, that’s a reality for very few institutions, and you need to go through a hard admission process to get into them. I definitely agree that it would be better!
      Thanks for the comment!

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  7. This post was so interesting! I didn’t know anything about the education system in Brazil so I’m happy to have learned more about it in this post.☺️ I go to school in the US, and honestly, my school experience is pretty reminiscent of that in many YA contemporaries these days. (Except I don’t have as much of a social life as many of those characters, I’m just that one girl who spends her all her time studying and at dance class, lol.)

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    • Thank you so much, Olivia!
      I’m pretty sure I’d be that girl too, lol. I like to believe that if I had had the chance to have a “typical American high school experience”, I’d do it all, with the football games & dances, but then I remember I’m too much of an introvert for that. And an overachiever too, so I’m sure I’d spend most of my time worrying about grades too, hahah.
      Thanks for the comment, Olivia! 💛

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  8. I’m so glad you are continuing with this series and people are loving it!! I really enjoy reading it!! Also I love the title— high schools sucks worldwide– it made me laugh.

    It was interesting to read about public and private with school and university— it definitely seems like an issue that needs to be solved.
    Having one exam to take to get into college sounds very stressful!!
    Going to school on a Saturday sounds horrible— there is a private school near where my dad lives and I sometimes see them going to school on a Saturday and always feel sorry for them. And I was surprised to learn that every subject is mandatory, that is quite intense as well. We got to start choosing our subjects from age 13 in the UK.
    And you had to sometimes go in on a Sunday– nooo— even though practise for your exam can be really useful. We had mock week where we had practise exams to help us know what to expect.

    And A-levels are the exams you take to get into university. You take them aged 16-18 and they take 2 years (unless you retake). They call it Sixth form and it quite different from the rest of the school as you get to wear no uniform and don’t have to be in the whole day as you take 3-4 subjects and mine worked out where I had 3 full days at school then 2 days off and the weekend so I was pleased with that.
    Great post and I really enjoyed reading it <3

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    • Thank you so much, Sophie! I was really proud of that title too, hahah.
      I really wish I’d had the chance to choose the subjects I wanted to study. I, for sure, would’ve banned Chemistry, and I’m sure my high school experience would’ve gone a lot smoother, hahah.
      That system sounds really great! First of all: the no uniform policy would’ve already been a gift. I had to wear uniforms for school, but in Brazil, they’re not as cool as in the UK, where you get to wear ties and skirts. Our uniform was ugly and pretty uncomfortable too – especially for curvy girls, like me. The shirts were see-through, so I almost never took my sweater off, no matter how hot the days were. The pants were also super tight and uncomfortable to sit in all day. But, only going three days to school sounds pretty good! I’m sure you’d have more school work, though.
      Thank you so so so much for sharing!

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      • It was great!!!
        Yes I think choosing subjects is a really good option because students can study the things they like.
        Yes I did enjoy the no uniform!! Aww.. that’s horrible that your uniform was so uncomfortable because you have to wear it for a long time.
        Yes we were meant to do 5 hours per subject (at the least) at home!! 😂
        You’re welcome!! Thank you for this series– it’s great!! 💛

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  9. Omg this was so interesting! I’m familiar with quite a few school systems, but I didn’t really know anything about schools in Brazil, and it was so interesting to hear about them from your perspective!
    In Australia, there’s a national curriculum that pretty much everyone does all through primary school and up until Level 10 (same thing as Grade 10). There’s 8 areas of learning: English, Mathematics, Science, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Arts, Technologies and Languages. Some states also have separate curriculum that are integrated into the national curriculum. For example, Victoria (the state I’m from) used to have the VELS (Victorian Essential Learning Standards), and that’s been integrated into the Australian National Curriculum, creating the AusVELS, which is what public schools and Catholic schools in Victoria teach (private schools tend to teach similar things, but because they’re independent, their curriculums differ). In 2016, the system in Victoria changed to the Victorian Curriculum F-10 (F-10 being foundation to Level 10), because the AusVELS was only meant to be a transitional curriculum while the VCAA (the government department that decides the school curriculum in Victoria) developed what would become the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. However, when I went to school in Australia, Victoria was still using the VELS, and then switched to the AusVELS right before I left, so I don’t know as much about the Victorian Curriculum F-10. I do know that all of them are very similar though. The only big difference that I know of is that there’s now a mandatory course that you take in Level 7 and 8 about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures (which are the indigenous peoples of Australia). Once you graduate from Level 10 and the Victorian Curriculum F-10, you start your VCE (if you’re in Victoria. There’s other school systems in other states that are all fairly similar, but because I’m from Victoria, I only really know about the school system there).
    The VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) is a two-year course that marks the completion of secondary education and your results will typically determine where you get in to university (assuming you’re eligible for an ATAR). I left Australia before I got to the VCE, so all of my knowledge of it comes from the very brief explanations I got in Grade 7 (back then we called them grades, not Levels). But yeah, you choose at least 4 subjects (usually 5 or 6, though), including an English subject (language or literature, or you can choose foundation or EAL if English is not your first language). Every subject consists of four units. You typically study units 1 and 2 in grade 11, but don’t necessarily have to study them in order throughout the year (like you can study unit 2 before unit 1, or kind of switch between them). And then you study units 3 and 4 in grade 12, but you do have to study them in order. You don’t have to complete all 4 units of a subject, so you can change subjects between grade 11 and 12 if you want. But you do have to successfully complete all 4 units of your English subject with a satisfactory result. You can either be awarded a satisfactory or a non satisfactory result for a unit, and to earn your VCE, you must earn a satisfactory in 3 unit 3/4 sequences, and earn 16 satisfactory results overall, as well as earning a satisfactory result in all four English subject units. If you gain a satisfactory result in 3 English subject units and 12 units in any other subjects, you will receive an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), which is the score that you’ll use to apply to university. I don’t entirely understand how the ATAR scoring works, but I do know that you have internal assessments (given and scored by the school) and external assessments (exams given and scored by the VCAA). If you successfully complete units 3/4 of a subject, you get a score out of 50 that’s relative to the performance of everyone who took that subject. From there, you receive an aggregate score, which is your English study score + the sum of your best 3 study scores + 10% of the sum of your next 2 best study scores. And then the VCAA somehow scales your aggregate score into a percentile ranking out of 99.95 (so if your ATAR is 90.00, it means you did better than 90% of your peers).
    Being an international student, however, I completed my iGCSE in grade 9 and 10, then moved schools and started my IBDP, so I didn’t actually study the Victorian Curriculum F-10 or do my VCE, but I figured that international systems are far more known about, so I may as well explain the school systems used in my home country (or at least, the state of my home country that I’m from). Sorry for the long arse comment, but I hope this was at least interesting 🙃

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    • Thank you so much, Laura! And thanks a lot for leaving such a long and insightful comment.
      First of all, it’s so nice that learning about the natives from Australia is a thing now. I do know that, technically, it is also mandatory in Brazil that public schools add the history of our native people in their curriculums, but I don’t think most do. As I mentioned in my post, most public schools work with outdated text books, which is a real shame, since it’s a very important part of our history that we’re not exposed to enough!
      The college entrance exam process in Australia is so different, so complex and so interesting! I’m shocked! I do feel like it may be a more effective way of making sure students are working towards getting good grades all throughout high school. I saw a lot of my peers sleep through most of the first two years (high school lasts for only three years here) and then study like crazy in the last one, before our college entrance exam. Granted, it works, but I think a system like this, that takes into consideration your performance all throughout high-school in order to score you, sounds a lot more fair to me. I do imagine that it may also raise more competition amongst students of the same subject, in order to get the highest scores since it is relative to other’s performances.
      Thank you so much for sharing, once again! It was very, very interesting – and 100% the reason why I started this feature in the first place, so I could hear from other people’s experiences as well! 😊

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