Lara Fourie is an American TikToker and social media influencer who moved from Texas to Melbourne in 2017. The teen has been attending an Aussie school there since, but the whole experience was like nothing she was used to back in the States.
So she made a series of TikTok videos that have since gone viral, describing the exact culture shocks about the Australian school system. From everyone being totally fine with swearing to being able to go outside during the break, these are some of the differences that shed light on how these two big cultures deviate in profound ways.
Scroll down to see what Lara has discovered there below and to all our beloved Aussie pandas, hit us in the comments with some more cultural differences you have in mind!
Bored Panda reached out to Lara, the TikToker and RMIT University student in advertising who’s behind this viral video, who said she moved to Australia four years ago with her family. “My dad was an engineer and his company moved us all around the world. We’ve lived in Texas, New York, and Singapore as well,” she added.
“The culture shock was definitely the hardest thing to become accustomed to. People are simply different in other countries, not good or bad, just different,” Lara recalled and added that “the concept of change for me overall was the hardest.”
When asked what American things she misses the most, Lara said it’s “Chick-Fil-A, a fast food restaurant with the best food in Texas that you can’t find in Australia.”
In Australia, students can pretty much get away with swearing in class, swearing in front of teachers, that kinda stuff, in America, that was not tolerated at all and it was straight-up detention.
In many schools across the US, metal detectors are something teens and school staff go through every day. They were first used in a Detroit High School during the 1989-1990 school year, so they’re not an entirely new concept as many would like to believe.
However, recently, more and more schools are implementing the use of metal detectors on their sites due to the rise of school shootings. They serve as ugly reminders of the problem of violence in the US, and how sadly, the leaders have failed to ensure safety of their young generation without such extreme measures.
So in America, I woke up at 6 am every morning so I would be picked up by the bus at 6:30 for a 7 am start at school. Whereas in Australia, I start high school at 8:30 in the morning
Buying lunch at a cafeteria is a lot different to Australia as well. The cafeteria usually only makes a meal of the day and they only have a few snack options that are usually are all processed. We also have vending machines at school and a lot of them have soda, whereas in Australia, they have a canteen. They have so many more options and the food is way better overall.
This is the most generic Texas school outfit. And this is pretty much every Australian school outfit for girls
At the same time, there isn’t a lot of research about the positive or negative safety or social effects of metal detectors in schools. A study published in the journal of the American School Health Association detected mixed results as one study found that less students carry weapons to schools with metal detectors than the ones without them, though it’s not entirely clear how and if that translated into less violence in those schools.
Moreover, some experts claim that in more severe and lethal cases of mass shootings, metal detectors will do little if any good. Some believe that students in line for the detectors and the operators would likely be the very first victims.
In America it's mandatory to take a second language, a sport, and an art subject. But in Australia you don't have to.
So in American high schools, you have 7 classes a day that are 45-minute periods. At the beginning of the day, in first period, we would say the pledge of allegiance. The whole entire school would do this during morning announcements, we would turn to the flag that was in every classroom and we would go like this: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, individual [sic], with..." blah blah blah blah blah. I can't even remember anymore. So yeah, the whole entire school would do that at the exact same time, and then we would take a moment of silence for one minute where the whole entire school would be dead silent for a whole minute. Whereas in Australia, it's a bit different. In Australia, you have 4 periods a day that are an hour and a half, and at the beginning of the day, we have something called home room. We have houses like in Harry Potter, and pretty much every student from all different grades gets put into a certain home room
In Australia we have a 20-minute recess and an hour-long lunch, both of which you spend outside, whereas in America, we only got a 45-minute lunch and we spent it in a cafeteria
Another problematic aspect of metal detectors at schools is that they destroy trust between school officials and students. Often, the students are the only ones being screened, which may suggest they are being treated as potential threats.
Also, it’s well known that metal detectors are not foolproof. In September of 2008, in Milwaukee, a 15-year-old female student was stabbed several times in a restroom on the same day a $50,000 metal detector debuted at the school. Even though it’s not entirely clear whether the stabbing suspects had or had not been screened, the question of whether such a deliberate monitoring measure is effective remains open.
One of the biggest differences is the size of the school. Just for a bit of context, I lived in Texas, so our schools were huge. This was our football stadium/makeshift track. This is one of our three gyms. Our water tank. One of the pools. The district football stadium. And part of our performing arts center. Because you can get your license at 16, most of the students drove to school, and because we had around 5000, there was also a 3-tier parking lot. Also a band hall, orchestra hall, and two auditoriums. We also had a softball and a baseball field, and multiple soccer fields as well. We also had a separate cafeteria for every grade. Whereas Australian schools tend to be a lot more open. In America you spend the whole entire day inside, whereas in Australia you get a lot of time outside
In America, this is what the lockers look like. They're either halfway or full length. We also had the option to bring our backpacks to and from class if we wanted to. Whereas in Australia, at least the high school I went to, this is kind of what the lockers look like. They're a lot smaller
In America we have 7 subjects that we take and we have 7 40-minute periods every day, whereas in Australia, I only take 5 subjects and we have 4 periods every day that are an hour and a half
So in Texas high school, we have homecoming. Homecoming is the start of the football season and we celebrate by having a homecoming dance. These things right here, they're called mums. Basically, if you've been asked to homecoming by a guy, they will give you a mum and you will wear it on the day of homecoming. It looks ridiculous seeing everybody walk around school with these giant things on. And yes, I did wear one on homecoming, and yes, it's still in my closet. We also have prom and Sadie's dance. Sadie's is my favorite because it's the Valentine's Day one and the girl asks the guy out. Whereas in Australia, at least at my school, we have a year 10 formal and a year 12 formal and it's usually organized by the students outside of the school. In America, there are so many options for electives. We have everything from orchestra to flower arrangements
In Australia, we don't actually have hallways, so in America, to get from class to class, you go through the school, through your hallways, whereas in Australia, everything's outside other than your classrooms. Lunch, recess, we also have recess, but it's all outside.
Everyone knows that American public high schools don't have a uniform, but we do have a dress code. Pretty much, you couldn't wear tops that were less than three finger lengths for the sleeves, and your shorts had to be below finger length. When we had gym or sports, we had a separate uniform that we were given, and we would get changed in the locker rooms before class. Whereas in Australia, the typical uniform looks something like this. We called this formal uniform, and on the days we had gym, we wore our PE uniform, that looked something like this. I've also heard a lot of schools in Australia have a "no hat, no play" policy, but I wouldn't know, because I didn't go to elementary school in Australia
So in America, we have water fountains and that's the equivalent to these, which in Australia, they call them drink taps, and they look like that.