Two Schools Separated by 4507 Miles And an Ocean


Senior Students During a School Party (Tabatha Menten / Lincoln Lion Tales)

My name is Tabatha Menten. I’m seventeen years old. I’m an exchange student from Belgium. This is my home, but I hope to make this unknown country more familiar by comparing it to something you know — Lincoln. Today’s subject is the difference between my school in Belgium and Lincoln here in San Jose. 


The Buildings

One of the two buildings at “Athénée Provincial of Morlanwelz” (via Athenee Warocque / Facebook)

First of all, let’s talk about the school buildings. Lincoln is so huge in comparison of my little school in Belgium. My school is the “Athénée Provincial of Morlanwelz”. 1400 students attend what we call high school here, and what we call “Ecole Secondaire” in Belgium. Those 1400 students are distributed in six grades, but I’ll talk about it later. So there are two buildings, one for the three first grades and the other one for the last three grades. We have two little gymnasiums, one for boys and one for girls.

The Grades 

Like I’ve said above, we pass six years in High School. How is it possible? We begin kindergarten at two or three years and we stay three years there. After it’s primary school for six years. Finally, six other years in High School. In total, we pass eighteen years at school like here.

The Classes

My Spanish class during the senior day (Tabatha Menten / Lincoln Lion Tales)

I was amazed by the choices students have at Lincoln in choosing their schedule. In Belgium, choices are limited to six options. Yes, it’s sad, but we don’t have a choice.

When you begin first grade, you have the choice between English class or Dutch class. Why? Belgian people speak three languages: French, Dutch and German (not a lot of people choose to speak German). I come from the French part of Belgium, the south, which means I’m required to have French classes and between English and Dutch, I’ve chose English, which is why I’m here now.

In the second grade, we have the choice between four classes that meet two hours a week. The choices are Math class, Latin class, Economics class or Art class. Finally in the third grade we can choose the Science option, the Language Option, the Economic option, the Math Option, the Biology Option or the Sport Option. As you can guess, I have chosen the Language Option. It involves seven hours of French, six hours of English, and four hours of Dutch and Spanish. Added to that, we are obliged to follow four hours of Math, three hours of Sciences, two hours of History, one hour of Geography and one hour of Education that centers around ethics, morality, and philosophy.

The Schedule

In Belgium, school begins everyday at 8 a.m and finishes at 4 p.m except Wednesday, when we finish at 12.30 p.m. Everyday the schedule is different, but it’s the same every week. It is similar to our block schedule, where not every class meets every day. Each period lasts fifty minutes. We have two breaks, one of twenty minutes at 9.40 a.m, the second lasts thirty minutes and begins at 12.30 p.m.

All the seniors during our senior trip in Copenhagen (Voyage des Rhétos APMW 2019 / Facebook)


We don’t have sports at our school. I have said before that we have a Sport Option. In this option, you have eight hours of physical education. It includes doing sports but just for fun, not in a team. If you want to do sports in a club, with a team and with games; you have to do it outside the school.