Rumors and Truth

by Jong W. Lim

As a foreign student, I was envious of teenagers in America. At the same time, I felt pity for the dangerous environment surrounding teenagers who I saw in movies. After I moved to America I found many things that I had heard before were actually different. The most striking thing about Americans was their kindness to strangers. Many more other things were different, too.

Here are a few of the biggest rumors that I heard before and their truth. Before I thought that many American kids were bringing their guns and knives to school because I saw a lot of movies like "Dangerous Minds" and "High School High". But I found it's not true. Before when I was in my country I thought Americans were much more taller because the Americans that I saw were soldiers. But the truth is people in my country and Americans are almost the same height.

In American schools, the students have freedom to take their favorite classes, and there are no rules about clothes. In my country students wear uniforms and can't choose their classes. I could really see what an advanced nation's culture is like. Regardless of this, the environment here isn't always the best. I can see problems here such as drug abuse and sexual diseases.

In Korea, there is no drug abuse and not a lot of AIDS patients. Middle and high school students study all the time based on the theory that most students have entrance tests at the end of the year and shouldn't waste their time sleeping. They get up around 6:00 am then they go to school at 7:00 am, and start studying until 8:00 am. when school starts. Classes end at 5:00 pm. They eat dinner at school and study until 10:00 pm. Then they go to the library, a tutor or special program. They return home between 12:00-1:00 am and do homework, review their lessons, and barely get any sleep. They have P.E., music, and art classes, too. Even these classes are taught in a class room. Students have the same schedule, Monday through Friday. But for most students who follow this schedule, getting into college is still a long way off. Nobody has enough time to exercise or have fun, so many students get thin and weak.

On the other hand, American students can plan their future according to their ability and interests, but teenagers' imperfect judgment can lead to bad decisions.

Perhaps if we mixed the two systems of American Schools and Korean schools we would have the perfect system.

See cartoons by Jong W. Lim

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Updated May 29, 1997