Studying in the UK vs The Philippines

Studying is a phase of life that is important to every person, everybody has mixed experiences depending on their upbringing, what school they went to and the country they live in. Each studying experience is different, some people enjoy it but others don’t. Some lucky people, like me, get a new fresh start when it comes to studying.

I was born and raised in The Philippines, I’m half Filipina and half English. I studied in The Philippines till my 3rd year of High School, I had an amazing group of friends and was thoroughly enjoying puberty and school (bizarre, I know). My parents both decide that we needed to move to the UK in 2011. It was now or never. I was 13, at the start of my 3rd year in high school. In the UK I would be in Year 10 (school in The Philippines starts in June whereas in the UK it starts in September). I had a whole month to pack my life away in a massive suitcase, say goodbye to all of my friends, to all the people I know, and my massive but very tight-knit family. I was distraught but at the same time quite excited.

August 11, 2011. The day we arrive in the UK.

My dad had a month to enrol me and my brother in a school. We did get in but we had to start fresh, they couldn’t convert our grades so we were put in the lowest classes, we were given the ‘easy’ paper where we could only get a ‘C’. It was such a change but that school treated us so well, they helped us adjust and even assigned us a ‘buddy’ to show us around the school and help out.

In The Philippines, the level of education is much harder. Things we were doing when we were eleven were being studied in Biology in sixth form.  So in the UK, That meant that migrating to a new school was incredibly easy for me as I just had to redo everything, I remember loving Pythagoras’ theorem as that was something I have done before. The same with the sciences.  In fact, I was moved from the ‘easy’ class to the higher education class and managed to obtain a ‘B’ in a foundation paper (the highest you can get is a ‘C’).

In the Philippines, I struggled to keep up with the workload. We had four quarters and each of the quarter we had an exam for every single subject that we had. This was in the space of 2 – 3 days, exams back to back. In the UK, it was much different. I had two exams sessions, one in January and one at the end of the year which was at June or early July. Although we had an exam for each and every one of the subjects, it was at least spread out so we only had one exam a day or a maximum of 3. This was so much easier to cope with as I didn’t have to stress about remembering everything.

In the UK, we have an exam board that distributes your exam and it is guarded and is under incredible protection. Teachers are not allowed to see it before the exam, in fact, they only see it an hour prior to the exam or sometimes not till you are sitting the exam. In the Philippines, it was your own teacher who made the exams. Sometimes they don’t even get spellchecked. I remember one exam my teacher misspelt important to ‘imporatnat’, we found it so funny that we all got in trouble as we couldn’t stop laughing. Not only did you teacher make the exams, you can actually hire the teacher to tutor you beforehand, for a hefty price of course. But nevertheless, you can see that ‘exam conditions’ are incredibly different in both countries.

The length of school days are also different. In the UK, my school day was from eight till three. In The Philippines, my school day started at quarter to seven till around half three or half four. We also had several holidays but sometimes for a day off during the week, we had to pay it back by attending Saturday school. Saturday school is also much more common than you think!

As a religious country, our schools we’re teaching us from Day one to praise Jesus and about the love of God. I first went to a Catholic School where we prayed almost 16 times a day! Might seem like I’m exaggerating but I really am not. We would pray in the morning, before and after every lesson, and before we go home. We also would sometimes have morning church sessions and some schools even keep a ‘church’ book. It must be signed by your priest or pastor notifying of your attendance in church.

Those are just a couple of the ‘major’ changes between The Philippines and the UK’s education system. I was lucky as I manage to start fresh and I just had to redo everything I did. Although very different, I still had a great time. I had amazing friends, amazing teachers and enjoyed my subjects incredibly. It was a change that I appreciated!


About Angel Mika

I'm a second-year student in Portsmouth university studying Film Industries and Creative Writing.
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