The Differences between a French and an Australian High School


I definitely miss the 2 hour long lunch break, the three course meal and the endless ‘cantine conversations’ in France. French students complain that the menu doesn’t always taste that good… Every time they tell me this, I want to bring them over to an Australian high school in which cold packed sandwiches or expensive kiosk food is eaten hastily, sometimes even while standing.


And yes, the French ‘cantine’ is not expensive at all. Approximately 2-3€ per meal (which includes entrée, often a salad, main meal always warm, and dessert such as a fruit, or a yoghurt). Compare this to Australia…and you want to cry.

Food is something that I miss so much since moving to Australia.

In France, food is not only something that gives you energy, it is something much deeper, something that creates atmosphere, something that invites social interaction. It is not unusual to spend hours eating, while in Australia a meal can end in 30 minutes.

Australia however, does offer a multicultural diversity of cuisine from all around the world, which is simply awesome. Unfortunately this does not apply to high school life. It is as if high schools were surrounded by tall invisible wall which keeps out the mouth-watering foods that surround our daily lives. Unfortunately for students, soggy sandwiches and expensive chocolate cookies are the norm, while Australian cuisine society is as varied as a Moroccan spice market.



Subjects and the choice of subjects, especially in the last two years of schooling hugely affect student life. They determine which friends you will stay closest to; they help define what we choose as a future career.

I love the Australian school system for the freedom it gives in subject choice. The only compulsory subject is English and otherwise a student can choose whatever they want to study!


Practically you could pass your baccalaureate exams in English, Dance, Drama, Hospitality, Industrial Technology and Visual Arts. Australia truly acknowledges creative talent and supports any career choice.

In France you can only choose a section to study in Year 11 and 12. For example you can study the ‘literary’ section or the ‘science’ section. But everyone has to do a science subject and it is compulsory for everyone to study two foreign languages.

I love how Australia understands that one cannot be good at everything and that one studies better if one only studies the subjects one likes.


I hate uniforms.

Why do girls have to always wear skirts? How are we supposed to play soccer during lunch when wearing a skirt?

Why do 12 year old boys have to wear ties and knee high socks in 40 degree heat?


It is very weird because actually, none of my Australian friends dislike wearing uniforms. They tell me it is good because they don’t have to decide what to wear every morning.

In the winter however, we girls still freeze because of these stupid skirts.

Maybe I am exaggerating, but I think that we students are made to wear uniforms so that the school is able to control us more easily. Uniforms are like communism: if everyone is the same, then they represent a great being and are easier to control.

Some schools (mostly the private schools) have teachers patrolling outside near train stations for example, checking if their students are wearing the uniform correctly.

‘If Louise doesn’t wear that scratchy uniform hat, even when she is not at school….she gets a detention.’

I find uniform rules ludicrous. My school told me it was to ‘enforce discipline’. Discipline? Really?


Uniforms, probably brought into Australian society because of English colonialism are… horrible.

Luckily they don’t have uniforms in France!


On the other hand, I love the more relaxed nature of teachers in Australia. In France, the teachers are often as cold as ice.


If the French and the Australian school systems could be moulded together… that would be simply sublime; the best of both worlds.

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