5 Experiences Unique to International High School Students
Singapore has many international high schools that cater to students. Even in this cosmopolitan city-state where people from different cultures live and work together every day.
Going to an international high school still presents students with many unique experiences.
At this stage in their lives, high school students can learn a lot from interacting with peers from different backgrounds.
Going through similar challenges and changes with a diverse, yet similarly, aged group of people can widen a high schooler’s perspective.
It can help them become more appreciative of the world around them and their place in it.
What unique experiences can a Singapore international high school offer its students at this critical period of their lives?
Here are a few events and situations that a student will likely come across in an international high school and hardly anywhere else:
Students Typically Get the Feeling of Being an Outsider
In an international school, it’s quite normal for students to adopt the habits, practices, and beliefs of the people in their surroundings.
During this period of rapid and holistic development, high school students might find themselves embracing a bit of the culture that their parents grew up with.
Plus a bit of the place where their family currently resides. This results in a so-called “third culture,” which is an amalgamation of the two.
Many international high school students identify as third culture kids in a way that they experience a constant feeling of being an outsider.
When meeting with people from the same ethnicity, they may feel that they have sensibilities and actions that appear unusual to the group.
The same can be said when they’re with people from the place where they’re currently living.
Feeling neither here nor there can be a bit awkward during one’s teens, but international high school students share this feeling of otherness with the members of their academic community.
They understand what being a third culture kid means and feels like. They can support each other as they grow more comfortable in their own skin and culture.
It’s Normal to Make Quick Connections with Other International School Students
There are over 1.47 million non-residents living in Singapore, and there are plenty of international schools in the city-state that cater to families who have high-school-aged children.
Despite the seemingly large number of foreigners living in the country, it can still be quite easy for international high school students to connect with their classmates and students from other schools.
Aside from the shared feeling of being a third culture kid among students, athletic and academic events and competitions hosted by international schools also bring different student populations together.
These events help high school students build small, yet interconnected social networks with students from other schools.
It’s not uncommon, then, for many international high school students to wonder how they’re connected to the other foreigners that they encounter as they make their way around Singapore.
Maybe a quick online search can reveal that the person they talked to at an embassy is related to one of their classmates or teachers.
In more ways than one, the world can be quite small for many high schoolers from international schools.
Developing an Accent That Is ‘Neither Here nor There’ Is Natural for Students
Many international high school students are able to pick up new languages due to the constant availability of language lessons and the opportunity to practice with native speakers in their academic communities.
But on top of their official language subjects and lessons, these students can also be quick to adopt words, phrases, and accents from their peers.
There is a phenomenon called the “chameleon effect” where people unconsciously adopt the accents and mannerisms of the people around them as a way to build rapport.
At this phase of their lives, many high schoolers feel the need to belong. They might adopt a little bit of their social group’s manner of speaking to smoothen their interactions.
Having an accent that is neither here nor there comes naturally for high school students in a widely diverse academic community.
Students and Their Families Tend to Come and Go Easily
It’s not uncommon for students to stay in the schools in their local communities from preschool until they complete their high school education.
In international high schools, however, students and their families tend to come and go.
Many of the families who prefer to send their children to international schools in Singapore tend to get temporary work assignments in the country.
It’s not out of the ordinary for them to move in a few years or so, and some even do in less than a year.
As such, international high school students can get used to welcoming and saying goodbye to their friends and classmates quite often.
The good news is that these goodbyes don’t have to be permanent.
It’s also typical for international high school students to have friends in different parts of the world. They can easily develop good communication skills so that they can keep up with their international network of friends.
High school students who frequently move from one country to another, on the other hand, often develop a keen appreciation for culture and can express openness to unfamiliar environments.
As a result, they may acclimatize more quickly to their new surroundings.
There’s an Expectation to Head Out of the Country for College or University
Many high school students spend their years ensuring that they are prepared for tertiary education. It’s the same for high schoolers in international schools.
Though there’s an expectation that they will head to different countries to pursue their academic and professional aspirations.
It’s not out of the ordinary for one international high school student to aim for a school in a different country or even a different continent relative to the choice of their closest friends and classmates.
This can make it difficult for the class to come together in the future for a complete high school reunion.
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However, this also means that high schoolers from these academic communities can look forward to further widening their networks once they’ve completed their secondary education.
Attending an international high school offers many unique experiences to young students who are keen on learning more about the world at large.
These events and situations can present new challenges to students, but they’ll certainly contribute to widening the perspective of lifelong learners who are preparing to embark on an international journey after high school.
Have you ever hosted international high school students?
Let me know, til then—cheers m’deres!
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.