I can't forget about the bell! This is like the movies haha. The bell rings 15, 10, and 5 minutes before school starts. Then it rings when school starts too of course haha. It also rings when every class end so getting out of class sooner than you're supposed to is hard. You have 5 minutes between every class, it's not very much time but it's enough. Everyone's classes ends at the same time so it gets a little bit crazy in the hallways when the bell rings haha. The bell, with other words, makes it very obvious if you're late. And since I am a time optimist this is not a good thing haha. In Sweden we don't have a bell, the teachers basically decides when the class ends and when it starts even though we have a certain time at our schedule. And everyone's classes doesn't end at the same time either since everyone has individual schedules.
Lunch here is different as well. We have 30 minutes lunch every day, and here as you probably already know lunch is not free. It costs 3 dollars/lunch here but a lot of people bring lunch too. I don't bring my own lunch because I'm too lazy haha. In the cafeteria you have a few options, usually two or three. They always serve pizza but you only get one slice so that's not very much. I would say the "school food" here is much more unhealthy than in Sweden. You can have chocolate milk every day if you want to here haha. In Sweden I am used to taking my own food in the cafeteria, you choose if you want to eat and what you want to eat. Here, you just get the food that's handed out. You can't get more food if you want to and if you don't want to have something that's served they give it to you anyways. A couple of times a week they have a salad bar and I take that when that's served. There are so much fruit & vegetables and stuff so that's nice! In Sweden we always have a salad bar. We also have one meat option and one vegetarian option in Sweden. They never have that here. You get what's served so if you are a vegetarian, you have to bring your own food because the school does not have a vegetarian option every day. This I find quite bad and strange actually, but I can't do much about it.
So, when people bring lunch what do they bring? Usually a sandwich or leftovers or something like that. But always snacks as well. They eat all the time here. Everyone has snacks with them to school; cookies, chips, granola bars.. A lot of people has like "portion size" chips bags and have that to their lunch. In Sweden our lunch break is longer as well. 30 minutes would be consider as a short lunch since we usually have like 40-50 minutes lunch every day. Here in the US you also have either A or B lunch (what time you have lunch) depending on what class you have 5 period.
We also call the teachers Mr, Ms, or Mrs here which we don't do in Sweden. In Sweden we call them by their first name or just "you". Here, I would say you are more respectful to the teacher and you're un respectful if you don't call them by their last name. In Sweden I guess the teacher is more like a "friend". And btw everyone here in the US uses backpacks to school, almost no one uses them in Sweden. We have like big purses or "computer bags" haha.
The grade system is completely different here as well. I will not explain the whole Swedish system because that will take forever haha, but roughly we can say we have A-F (no B+ or something like that, just letters haha), F is failed and if you get A-E you passed the class. A is the highest grade you can get. Here A+ is the highest grade you can get and F is failed. D- is like "on your way to fail the class" and the grade E doesn't exist. I think an American C is like a Swedish E. You get points and credits here and tbh I'm not sure how this works exactly but the more points and credit you get, the higher grade you get. You have a percentage here and the percentage turns into a grade. I think you have to have like 60 % to pass the class. I have a lot more homework here than I do in Sweden but I would say the classes here are easier haha. The tests here are mainly multiple choice and true or false while in Sweden that would never happen, almost every question has open answers. Here you have more small tests while in Sweden we have have bigger tests. In Sweden we usually write a test in 1-2 hours. Here all you need is usually 30 minutes or less. We almost never have assignments here but we have as I said more homework. I would say Sweden has more big assignments and tests while the US has a lot more homework and smaller tests and assignments.
Even though everyone at my school says they have "no school spirit at all", I think they have quite a lot since I come from a school with less than 0% school spirit. In sweden school spirit doesn't really exist. We basically just go to school to learn and nothing else. Every activity or sport is outside of school. Here, it's like the opposite. There are lots of activities and sports such as drama club, swimming, musical, softball, cross country, basketball, cheerleading, tennis, wrestling... And there's American football of course! They also have prom, homecoming, and dress up days/weeks! We don't have that in Sweden. We have one prom at the end of your senior year, but that's it. And "prom proposal" or something like that doesn't exist either. I love school sports and that if the school has a game many people come and watch and all that stuff. Homecoming is still one of my best memories since I got here. So I think it's sad that we don't have more school spirit in Sweden. You get to know people from school better through school activities. But at the same time, I like how it is in Sweden too with all the activities and sports outside of school. You meet people outside of school and I like that. There's good and bad things with both!
There's also dress code here, which I am not a big fan of. You can't have too short shorts or skirts, not show your shoulders or anything else that counts as inappropriate if you're a girl. The guys have dress codes but no one really knows what they're so the dress codes are mainly for the girls. I find this very "old school" even though I understand that you can't have super inappropriate clothes in school. But let's not forget, no one really cares about the dress code. I would say maybe 2-3 teachers care about the dress code, so I barely notice that it's there. But it is, and I don't like it. In Sweden we can basically wear whatever we want as long as we wear clothes haha.
Here in the US you also need to have "passes" for everything. Pass if you go to the bathroom, pass if you go to the doctor, pass if you have to go to the principal, everything! We don't do passes in Sweden, we are just saying where we are going haha.
Every morning before classes starts, there are announcements in the speakers. It is like "news" for the school, such as if a practice has been cancelled, if it is a dress up or activity coming up or something else. After the announcements we say the pledge of allegiance. Everyone stands up, with the hand on their heart and turned to the flag. I don't do it tho because it feels weird haha. Anyway, this (the pledge of allegiance) would never ever ever happen in Sweden. People would like freak out. It's hard to explain why but I guess it is just our culture. I like the pledge of allegiance, I think it's nice haha. Everyone (in Sweden) would also react or freak out if there was a Swedish flag in every classroom like there is here. (But with an American flag of course haha). Something I noticed is that they have religious stuff in the classrooms as well. People wouldn't accept this in Sweden either. Honestly, I don't really like it either, but at the same time I don't mind it. Don't get me wrong! I have nothing against religion or religious people or something like that, I actually find it beautiful when someone has a belief, but I do think it is strange that religion is "mixed' with school. Do you understand what I'm saying? It's hard to explain. I just think school should be school and religion should be religion.