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The Wildcat Roar

Trying to understand America

What is the difference between U.S. schools and Brazilian schools?
Caique Agra Dias

I was being tortured. From the time I took my first step in the U.S.A. until my first day in a new school, I had doubts about every single thing. Will I have the same class every day? Is my English good enough? How does everything work? With time, I fixed most of my worries, but spoiler, there are still things that I don’t understand.


The first big difference between Brazil’s schools and the United States’ schools is the fact that here students move to other classes and have different subjects. “Why?” I asked for myself for months. In Brazil we have our scheduling done for us, you don’t choose anything. 

Schedule from 11th grade from “Oficina do Estudante” my old school in Brazil.

I had about 20 subjects in my high school in Brazil. Students don’t have different classes every day, but the same every week. If you aren’t a Brazilian, you may be confused and wonder why Brazilian schools schedule this way. Think about how you would feel if you moved to Brazil, and you can start to understand how I feel.


Teens usually don’t like high school; this is probably a consequence of waking up at 7 a.m., but I was an exception. I used to be an excited person with too much energy. I would sing and laugh in the time between classes. Now it’s more difficult to maintain all this happiness. I feel more sad, probably because of less sunlight from the Michigan winter.


The teaching methods and focuses of my last school and Novi are completely different. In Campinas (the city that I studied in before I  moved), I was in a school that focuses on giving you background and knowledge. I was starting to see really difficult topics, even in my classes that were simply required to graduate. Here in Michigan, I feel that they worry more about preparing you for real life, adult life. 


The way that I learn matches more with my old school. In my mind, I’m struggling to understand why general education classes here are not so difficult. The way that the teachers teach in Brazil is using the board and notebook, and during the class time the students are writing and listening to the teacher. Depending on the school, you will have more exercises and presentations, but this wasn’t my case. 


This probably occurs because the process to get into college is different. In the U.S. they look for you as a person, but in Brazil, we are just numbers. I used to think that the American way is better, but now in my situation, I’m not sure. The worst nightmare of any student in Brazil is the reason that I’m relieved to be here in the U.S., and it’s called “vestibular.”


Since the ninth grade, we’ve heard about “vestibular” in São Paulo. It’s like the SAT. Vestibular is a test that students take in their last year of high school to get into college. It has questions about Portuguese, math, biology, chemistry, physics, sociology, arts, and others. There are two types of college, the private and public. Public colleges are completely free so applications are more competitive, depending on the course and college is impossible to get a spot. This is the reason why we have all these subjects in high school and hard subjects even in middle school.


Even with all this pressure, the energy and parties of being a teenager in Brazil are magical. The moments that I had in my freshman and sophomore years there were inexplicable; the vibe and the hangouts were different from here. It’s hard for me not to have nostalgia with music and jokes. I hope that I can still build this here in my new life.


Caique Agra Dias

With all these differences, both have pros and cons. Each country has different values and each person has their own methods. Even if I prefer the Brazilian way, I’m trying to fit in here. I have hosted a couple parties and I ask people to hang out, but I feel that here everyone has their own line of life. In Brazil I had my class that I wouldn’t change. In Brazil I had my friends that I hang out with every single week. In the United States I have a good life, and I still have what I had, but not in the same intensity.

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About the Contributor
Caique Agra Dias, Staff Writer
Caique Agra Dias is a 16-year-old Brazilian student who loves to enjoy his free time to hang out with his friends. He loves movies (especially horror movies) and animals. If he has to stay in one place for the rest of his life, it will be at the beach. He is a Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter universe. You can contact him at [email protected]

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    Luís RogerioFeb 22, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    Great test once more!!! Congrats!