School Life Around The World

Serbian exchange student shares differences in education


Aleksa Stankovic came to Rider this year from Serbia.

Every 1st of September my school year starts. It is always nice to see all the people you know and spend every day of every class with. That’s right. Unlike in America where you change your classes and classmates after every period, in Serbia you are with the same group of people for all four high school years. A big change is also that there is a block schedule, so every day of the weekday is different.

Our classes start when we sit down after greeting our teachers. Then we begin the lesson, and we usually take down notes in our notebooks but never on a printed sheet of paper that our teacher previously gave us. The only thing they actually give us, except of course knowledge that we need, are tests. It’s a good thing that during the year there are not as many tests as in the US, but tests are usually bigger, harder and if you do bad, you can only hope that there will be a second chance to make it up.

Along with tests, there are also oral exams in almost every subject. It’s something that Americans usually don’t have in their high schools, and I’m not sure whether that is good or not. I personally like them because I like to talk and it’s an interesting way to get a good grade for me. Another big difference is that there are different kinds of high schools. For example, there is a school where those who are usually completely sure that they will go to college go. They are called Grammar schools and I go to one. There are also high schools for those who want to have medical, electronic, economical, chemical, or other majors once they go to college, one advantage of those schools is that students can also work in the field they choose if they don’t go to college.

Along with all differences that exist, high schools in Serbia and in America have a lot of things in common. There are excellent teachers and ones that are not interested in their jobs both here and there. Worries about what to do after high school are almost the same.  One period is 45 minutes long in Serbia too.

It is hard to compare two educational systems that are two different planets. The only thing that I can say is a phrase I heard before I came here from exchange students that were on this program before me. “Not better, not worse, just different.”