As an international student from Brazil studying in Canada, I can say that there are some major differences between both countries and their school systems.  

The first major difference between them is obvious, the climate. Brazil is mostly a tropical country with scalding temperatures in most of its regions. But I come from the south where it’s less hot throughout the year, except in the summer. In the winter, sometimes, rarely though, it snows in the mountains near the city I am from, which is something maybe some of you didn’t know was possible to happen in Brazil.  

Keep in mind that all information here is relative to the school I went in Brazil, so somethings may vary depending on where you are in Brazil and the school. Also, everything is referring to high school. Remember that Brazil is in the southern hemisphere; therefore, all seasons there are opposite to here in Canada, which means summer here is winter there and vice-versa. So, the school year there is organized in three trimesters. We only have two breaks in the year: summer break in December and winter break in June. With classes organized in a weekly schedule, classes repeat every week, and we have a different set of classes every day. Another thing is that we have the same subjects throughout the year.  Also, our classes are shorter, only 45 minutes each, and we have six of them in the morning, meaning an early start at 7:18 am.  On Wednesday and Mondays, we have three classes in the afternoon, starting at 1:31 pm. In the mornings, we have a break of 15 minutes between the third and fourth classes.   

In Brazil, grades are not measured in letters or percentages; the grades are measured in numbers, where 10 is 100% and 0 is 0%, so if you got 6.7 it would be the same as 67% – which is very straight forward.  

There are three tests per trimester for every subject. Two tests every week, which are from two distinct subjects. The third one is like a recuperation test for a specific subject, these tests occur in the same week, usually the last week of the trimester. On that week we have half the number of classes.  

In Brazil, the system to be approved and graduate is different. To be approved you would need to get at least a 7 in all subjects. The subjects there include, but are not limited to, Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Portuguese, English. There is a third language – Spanish or German – you choose what you would like to study.  To graduate, you do not need a certain number of credits like here, you just need to be approved in the final year of high school and there is no Capstone project. 

In Brazil, there are no school clubs. Arts in general are what we call extracurricular; you don’t need to complete the activities to graduate. And, in general, you would need to pay extra to have those classes. Sports are somewhat like arts; they are also extracurricular. To enter the school team, you need to practice in the classes the school provides and to do that usually you need to pay extra. These things are not really incentivized in Brazil, unfortunately. 

Image courtesy from: Persio Figueiredo