School in Finland is very different

Emmi Raatikainen

No social life, zero hours of sleep and an empty bank account. Those are the three realities for a Finnish high school student, or at least that’s what it feels like. There are dozens of differences between the American and Finnish school system, and it is hard to evaluate which is better.


American teens are used to waking up every day at the same time and living  routine-like weekdays, and when students in the U.S are already studying diligently by the table, the unsocial, grumpy teenagers in Finland are still enjoying their much-needed beauty sleep and thanking the higher executives who decided that school would not start anywhere in the country before 8:00 am. Then there are the even more lazy students who were being smart while picking their courses, and don’t have to get out of the bed before 10:00 am.

The days keep on going, and the students in America have gotten used to their schedule and have stopped getting lost in the school building. Of course, this would be too simple for Finland, so school is divided into five individual semesters that all have different courses going on to restrict the students from having anything routine-like in their lives.


It is time for lunch, and the students start to gather into the dining hall, which is the same in both countries. The difference is, that while the American kids start to look for their home-packed lunches or form a line to the cash register, in Finland, school lunch is complimentary. School lunch is a warm meal, such as soup, chicken or fish, and is served with bread.


As far as studying and tests go, these two countries are like fire and ice. While in the U.S, students are studying for smaller tests and a larger final test that are mostly built from multiple-choice questions, the Finns are trying to not die before the next torture time, that is called the “test week”. During this horrible 8-day period, every student will hit rock bottom at least once. In a semester each student chooses 5-8 courses to study. After about three months and a whole textbook, there will be a final test about everything learned during this time. The tests vary from only essay answers to a mixture of multiple choices and everything evil in life a student can just imagine. The wilder a person’s thoughts go on this one, the closer to the truth that probably is.


Being a junior can be stressful for an American teenager with the SAT’s, but in Finland, the years can be quite nice, until senior year knocks on the door. To graduate from high school, students have to take more tests; surprised yet? A student’s knowledge in subjects such as English, Finnish, Swedish and math will be tested with individual 6-hour long tests about everything a person has learned during the 12-year torture they call education. After this, a person is handed a piece of paper and a white hat to make sure that no one ever forgets that once upon a time, there was still knowledge somewhere deep down in the brain.


After having the chance to experience both of these school systems, it is hard to make a decision about which one is better. Altho American high school costs a student their mornings and the routines might seem boring from time to time, the relief of not needing to stress about large tests takes a lot of weight off from a student’s shoulders. Regardless from what school a person attends, hopefully some day their learned skills will be used in the real life.