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High School on the Other Side of the World This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   For my grandmother's 70th birthday, my family and Ivisited South Korea. While there, I was attentive to Korean high schools andstudents.

I was surprised by how different Korea's public high schoolsare from America's. Korean high schools can be all-girls, all-boys or co-ed,unlike our standard co-ed high schools. There are three grades, "go 1"(10th), "go 2" (11th) and "go 3" (12th). "Go" isthe first syllable of the word "go-deung-hak-kyo," which, simplytranslated, is "high school."

In America, unless you want to goto a private school, you don't have to take an entrance exam. In Korea, however,students must take a test to get in because of the many choices ofschools.

Another difference I couldn't help but notice was the students'appearance. With very few exceptions, all wear uniforms. A name tag with thestudent's name, grade and homeroom number must also be worn. Girls' skirts can'tbe above the upper part of the knee, and it is forbidden to dye your hair or wearaccessories except small earrings. There are strict regulations for appearance toachieve neatness, and it seems the only freedom students have is with theirchoices of hair style, socks and shoes.

The final difference was theset-up of the classes. There may be 40 students in a classroom, but the numbercan be less or even more, depending on the population of the town or city.Although there are many students per classroom, they are very close, which Ithink is a result of not changing classrooms for different subjects. There are nolevels in the subjects and the teachers are the ones who switch classrooms. Youmight think the students get cramped from sitting so long, but they haveten-minute breaks between subjects.

In each class, students are ranked bytheir grades. This causes rigorous competition, and Korean students do a lot ofstudying. To help them, all schools have extra study classes after school. Oneother fact that helped me appreciate living in America is that Koreans haveschool on Saturdays. Although it's only a half day, I think I speak for mostAmericans when I say we could never imagine ourselves in school on aSaturday.

Korea's public high schools are clearly different fromAmerica's. I had imagined them to be just like our schools, but now I have aclear picture of how different they are.






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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