When I first came to Canada, I immediately saw components that differentiate Canadian schools from schools in Hong Kong. It is not only because of the educational approaches and students’ clothing, but also the school hours in two cities. Yet, I am glad to have both experiences because certain benefits altered my relationship with people under these two distinctive systems.
Generally, schools in Hong Kong starts at 7:30 and ends at 4:30. Students usually have assembly or reading time in the morning, about five to eight classes in the afternoon and a studying time at the end of the day. During the exam period, teachers will ask students to stay after school and prepare for their exams. Most of them will study until 6 p.m. and go to their sports team training at school. Although it is very tiring for students to stay at school from dawn to dust, they have no choice but to adapt to this unique educational system. However, when I studied in Vancouver, most schools start at 8:40 and classes end at 3:00. Students have more freedom and can participate in activities that they are interested in. Teachers will always encourage students to try various sports and clubs, so they expand their horizons.
In Hong Kong, schools require students to wear a uniform and many rules to wearing it. For girls, the uniform has to cover their knees and their hair has to be tied up in a ponytail. For boys, their hair cannot cover their brows and eyes. Also, students are not allowed to dye their hair, wear accessories or put on any makeup. To assure that every student follows the rules, many schools will have a team of senior students – prefects. Those prefects will stand in front of the entrance of the school and check if any students violate the dress code. In contrast, Canadian schools seem to be less restricted in students’ clothing. No prefects or teachers are standing in front of the school and students can wear anything they like with accessories and their favourite cosmetics. Even though different attires allow students to understand other cultures, uniforms can also bring students closer.
While I was pursuing my diploma in high school, I took a range of courses that I had never seen in Hong Kong. I was so surprised that students in Vancouver could choose whatever they want. Most public schools required students to take English, Mathematics and Science to graduate. Other than that, students could choose courses they have an interest in. Moreover, students do not have much individual homework but abundant group work, such as projects and presentations. Instead of learning solely from textbooks, teachers prefer students learning knowledge from others. However, teachers in Hong Kong will focus more on a student’s independent abilities in classes. Daily homework is required to hand in the other morning, and the test will be done on a monthly basis. The other difference would be that the schools would plan the schedule for students, thus everyone will have the same schedule.
Although it was more tiring to study in Hong Kong, I had a really close relationship with my classmates and teachers. Students are able to build relationships with each other due to a heavy workload at school or even outside of schools. Our teachers were also willing to assist us in studying after school or even on the weekend. I was so proud to be part of the team whenever I saw my uniform hanging inside my closet. Yet, I also enjoyed learning other cultures and knowledge from others in Vancouver. It did not only widen my perspective but also gave me the motivation to explore the world in the future.