Movies vs Reality

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By Student Blogger Rabita

As an exchange student from Indonesia, American high school is a lot different and interesting. After two months living here, I still get a lot of silly questions and comments from my friends back home about American high school. For example, “Do people actually throw slushies (some sort of frozen drink) at your face?” or “You look like you’re in High School Musical”. That made me realize that a lot of foreigners don’t actually know what American high school is truly like. So here I am, sharing with you the truth: American high schools are not the same as they are in movies. This is a difficult concept to grasp, especially since all high school movies seem to be the same. Here are some comparisons between high school in movies and high school in reality.

 First day of school

Movies: The first day of school is always pictured as a horrifying day. Embarrassing other people in front of the whole school, seniors bullying freshman, getting lost around the building, or even eating lunch in the restroom.

Reality: Those movies are 100% wrong. My first day of school went pretty smooth. Going to school, putting stuff in my locker, asking other people where to go, eating lunch, and basically doing everything normally. Everybody at school welcomes you. It’s quite nerve-racking I have to say, but it turned out to be smooth because it’s not as bad as you think it would be. Bullying is something that is taken seriously here, so you don’t see people bullying around at all.

Outfits.pngSchool Outfits

Movies: People can wear literally anything. Crop tops, hot pants, tank tops, or even super short skirts. Everyone is really well dressed.

Reality: Most American high schools have a strict dress code. No spaghetti straps or hot pants, and showing belly buttons or cleavage is a big no. Besides, everybody loves sleeping. People don’t get up early in the morning and spend an hour to get dressed with fancy matching outfits. We’re going to school anyway, not a formal ballet show. My high school’s collective wardrobe consists mostly of jeans, sweatshirts, sweatpants, boots, t-shirts, hoodies, or anything that has the word “Redbirds” on it since it is my high school mascot.


Movies: A student’s number one nightmare is having a ridiculously mean teacher. They hand out detentions like it’s a shopping voucher giveaway. Getting an F seems to be normal in a movie. Teachers are either super mean or super weird.

Reality: All of my teachers have been really supportive and helpful. Most teachers will help you anytime if you have trouble understanding the material. They don’t give you bad grades for no reason. You can really consider them as a friend. Sometimes it’s even acceptable to call them just by their last name. If this happened in Indonesia, you’d probably be in serious trouble.


Movies: Crazy things happen. There will either be a food fight or even a real fight. There will even be a bunch of students spontaneously dancing and singing in the cafeteria that makes you question if your friends are undercover professional dancers.

Reality: No one will randomly start a food fight, or at least no one at my school has ever done that. No one will randomly break out into song and everyone start dancing. You only have 30 minutes to an hour to line up for your food, eat, clean up the mess, and prepare for your next class. How can a person start a food fight or choreograph a dance in just 30 minutes?

movies-vs-reality-2School Boys

Movies: They walk in groups like a wolf pack wearing sports jerseys. They always have bad grades. They make weird loud noises to intimidate other people.

Reality: How can the whole football team walk together in the school hallway when they each have different classes? Boys are just like any other human. They go to school to study, they behave well, and they’re not like wolf packs scaring people around. Meet some boys from my school. Do they look harmful at all?


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