West Ottawa compared to Danish high school


Andrea Lefevre

There is no doubt that American high schools are very different from the school system in Denmark, my native country.  Denmark is the size of the state of Michigan. I want to highlight some of the most significant differences, and my view upon them.

Different Classes

In Denmark, we have about 30 different classes students can choose from. But it is the Danish Government that has decided which classes children are attending according to their age. In the U.S, one has 5 times as many different classes to choose from.

   I think it is fantastic that the American school system offers as many varieties as West Ottawa does.

   In Denmark, one must stay in the same classroom every day together with the same group of students. It was a huge adjustment for me to be moving from one classroom to the other every hour through the day, and it is something I am still not used to. I have to say that I prefer the Danish way of being together in a joined class every day for the whole year. Maybe it is because I am used to it, but I really enjoy spending the day with the same students.  You get to know each other very well, and feel a joined spirit about staying together. It also gives us better and longer breaks because we do not have to spend time between classes on finding out where to be in the next lesson.


School Sports and all that comes with 

High school spirit and mascots for school sports are two things West Ottawa has that my Danish school does not. In Denmark, in fact most of Europe, school and sports are separated. You play your sports in clubs in your spare time. So, you would go home from school, do your homework or hang out with friends, have dinner and then around 7-8 pm you would go and practice.

   By separating school and sports, you sort of  take away the high school spirit. We have no such thing as a mascot, cheerleaders, varsity letters or even American football. The most popular sports in Denmark are soccer, handball, horse riding or badminton. I see a lot of potential in giving the students different offers after school for fun and leisure.


Different Teachers

Another interesting perspective is the difference between how teachers and students are related here. In the US you call teacher by their last name. Something we never do at the schools in Denmark. So calling them Mr. and Mrs. This or That is definitely something I have to get used to….

Different Style

In Denmark, most students wear black (and boring) clothing, because nobody likes to stand out. Here at West Ottawa the students are wearing colorful patterns, dresses and high heels.

   I like the variety in that, and the joy it brings when people are not so much alike in their presence.


Weekend Activities

On the weekend, most teenagers in Denmark are going out partying and drinking in clubs. We can buy alcohol at the age of 16 in Denmark. In one way it is good, because we like to party and alcohol makes it a lot more fun. On the other hand, it can be a bad thing for those who are not in control of themselves and drink way too much.

   But we can not drive until we are 18. That is not allowed in Denmark. Most students are driven to school by their parents or – like I was – riding a bike.


   I look very much forward to spending a year at West Ottawa and to be a part of the special high school spirit. I hope to get to learn some young Americans. It is a bit difficult since the breaks are spent on hurrying up from one part of the school to another. But hopefully I will soon know people I can call friends and spend time with outside school.