How Are Brazilian & American High Schools Different?

Student Bloggers


VitoriaStudent Blogger Vitoria (Vic) is from Brazil! Vitoria is a junior at Waukesha High School and lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with her host family on the Academic Year Program. You can read her other posts here and here

By AYP Student Blogger Vitoria

The Brazilian school system is quite different from the American school system. I think it is interesting seeing how each country works its education system, so I love to hear about other exchange students' schools in their home countries.

The American schools are commonly known as the ones with lockers and clubs. Usually, exchange students already know a little bit of what they are going to face in an American school because we are used to watching movies and TV shows that take place in high schools in the U.S. Sometimes the movie versus reality can be different (it is not a High School Musical at all hahaha!) but also sometimes you’re going to school and suddenly you are like “I’m definitely in a movie”.

(Yes, it does!)
(Yes, it does!)

Summer Break in December/January

Since Brazil is in the southern hemisphere, our school year starts in February and goes until December. Yes, our summer break is in December/January. So when I came in August to start the school year here, I was already in the middle of my junior year in Brazil. And, when I go back, technically, I’m going to be in the middle of my senior year there.

Spirit Day next to my locker at my American school.
Spirit Day next to my locker at my American school.


I was really excited to have my locker here, seeing as we don't have lockers in Brazilian schools! I'm going to be honest, it took me time to master the art of opening my locker the first try, but I got it. So if you struggle opening it, ask for help.

Same Class, Same People

In Brazil, we stay with the same class all day long for the whole year. The classes are divided by the grade you are in. So how does that work? The teachers switch classrooms instead of students.

Grading System

How grades are determined depends on what school you go to, but most of the time the grades in Brazil are on a numeric scale instead of a letter scale.

My first homecoming football game.
My first homecoming football game.

School Dances

I learned here that homecoming is kind of an American thing because of the football season. Since we don't even have football back in my school (and most of the schools in Brazil), there is no homecoming dance. Also, there's no prom. Usually we have graduation parties instead.

My school's uniforms back in Brazil
My school's uniforms back in Brazil


They aren't at all schools, but all the schools I have attended back home have this rule that you have to wear uniforms. Some of them request only the uniform shirt, others the full outfit. It depends on the school, but uniforms are common. For someone who is not used to it, uniforms can sounds like a negative thing, but actually it is not a big deal.

So, Which Is Better?

People have asked me which school I like better, and being completely honest: both. I like how in Brazil we get to spend time with our classmates the whole school day, so then we end up being really close. But I also like how here in America, we get to know different people in all periods and get to be friends with them. It is really a matter of being different, not better or worse.

What about you? How is the American school system different from your home country?