Well, they do. Technically.
Currently, it’s summer break in Korea *whoo*
But high school students still go to school.
What?! Nous ne comprendons pas!
It’s weird isn’t it. For me, summer break was a point in the year where people didn’t go to school for roughly two to three months, have fun in the beach and hang out with your friends. Oh, and finish your summer homework at the last moment by going on Sparknotes. Of course, being an Asian, I was to finish my summer homework early and, you know, study a bit.
But going to school? During summer break?!
That was culture shock level 10. Up to the end of middle school, my fellow Korean friends and I would meet every once in a while and relax. Though, they still needed to go to hagwon (which is cram school, which is basically a place where you study. A second school!) But they still had some social life.
But starting this year, they reached freshmen/sophomore year. It’s hard to explain as Korean schools don’t finish a grade before summer break but before spring break. So my friends are in freshmen year but, in the end, it works out. And for Korean people, going to a good college is a life goal. Their lives (putting on stereotypical view glasses) are like this:
Born -> Various hagwons at young age (english, math, origami) -> Kindergarten! (Preferably kindergarten that teaches English!) -> Elementary (Yay! More English and another language, preferably Chinese!) -> Middle School! (Same stuff!) -> High School! (Get ready for College! Hagwon, hagwon, and more hagwon!) -> College! (Get ready for work!) -> Good corporation or doctor or lawyer, a stable job! -> Marriage! -> Kids! -> Retirement! -> Death!
Eh. It kind of works.
The important view is that Korean kids spend much time in college. And most Korean high schools make it a need for students to come to school during summer break and um.. prepare.
Ce n’est pas les vacances d’été!
It’s good to prepare. I mean, more preparation can’t kill. But when I see Korean students in school uniform on the subway, i think,
“Aren’t they wasting their teenage years?”
To me, Korean students seem to have a much straining life. A friend of mine goes to school at 8 am and comes back home at 11 pm.
Me, I go to school at 8 am and come back at 3 pm.
Bam! Culture shock!
Perhaps this is why many Korean students dream of becoming celebrities and idols. To them, idols seem free and they won’t have to study. This is in my view, though.
So Korea. We’re known as people who study much, eat kimchi, love celebrities, are smart, quite leading in the IT department. But with the much high respect comes the price of studying, studying, studying.
Gosh, if I was a Korean student, I would blow up in the middle of class, throw my textbook, and smack myself.
Maybe this is why there are recent rises in fights between students and disrespect towards teachers (such as dancing during class when the teacher isn’t looking, hitting female teachers, swearing at teachers.) Korean students have stress levels from the intense studying. Even “break” isn’t a “break” for them.
Shouldn’t Korean students be allowed to have more freedom in their teenage years? This type of conversation may come up someday:
Kid: “Mom, what were your teenage years like?”
Mom: “Oh, I studied.”