Originally Posted by Double-A
Hello, I was wondering if any of you head-fiers live in a country that has a good education system. I live in the United States of America and over here in the U.S. we don't exactly have the best education system. I am considering going to college in a foreign country but do not know which countries have good education systems and which ones do not. I just hope that if I do end up going to a foreign country with a good education system I won't be too stupid to perform well in school because of the sub-par education I have received thus far here in America .
P.S.: If you do not feel comfortable with giving away which country you live in to a complete stranger, that is alright . . . obviously you do not have to tell me where you live if you don't want to.
If your parents can afford sending you to college, consider instead going to the Philippines. We have a lot of people doing that to avoid the high costs in the US (it's not really bad overall, but getting into the good universities is expensive as hell), and a lot of Iranians taking nursing and medicine, also Koreans taking a bunch of other programs; the trade-off is your parents will have to pay for everything (as some in the US might not be used to) because taking an average of 18 to 24 units per semester means working is impossible unless you dance naked for a living then meet an...errr...education-inclined sugar daddy/mommy. Our public system is mostly crap up to high school prior to the current administration, true, but our colleges are good without forcing you into a mind-spinning cram school lifestyle. Don't misinterpret that though - just because you see people drinking often doesn't mean "slacking off" is always a good idea given schools drop you if you have one failing grade in consecutive semesters, you're just free enough to manage your time. We've gone drinking with our textbooks open on the table preparing for oral exams in philosophy and theology, for example; and other times we've started drinking (and binge-eating) in a local pub as early as 4PM, basically ending up there right after a three-hour Calculus final exam.
Good private universities are mostly Catholic (or other sects, like the Methodists; few are non-sectarian), and will require a lot of liberal arts classes - in the Jesuit school I attended we all (regardless of whether you're taking Nuclear Physics or Engineering) had to take 12 units of Philosophy, 12 units of Theology, 12 units of English plus 6 units of "Filipino"* (writing and literature; new K-12 system might do away with this in a few years) and up to 6 units of your choice of a third language (somewhat in order of popularity - Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, French, German, Bahasa, and now Korean) plus freakin' Calculus and other math where the studious Chinese girls' grades will make you feel like an idiot (I did, until about junior year when I used Calculus for a political philosophy class, which my professor said was the first time that happened). Still, for about $4,000+ a year for the tuition fees in the more expensive Catholic schools for foreign students (plus maybe $600/sem for the dorm, or you can rent a studio flat in nearby high-rise apartments; meals can often be $5 each and that's using fatty but not processed meats), you can just attend a US university for your MA/MBA degree later on; if you qualify, some schools have five-year programs that count as an MA degree. The real problem is that the best schools have entrance exams to make it easier for them to filter out applicants, and application forms are released over the dry season break (April to maybe mid-June, throughout the first semester), with the exams taking place until December depending on the school. Expect ****ty traffic with up to 70,000 hopefuls (and that's probably just in the Manila campus) taking the exam for the main state-owned university. In all honesty, I wasn't really aware of how much our schools are known outside of the country until my brother's boss in the US was overheard bragging to his business partner that he managed to hire someone from our school. If you attend this and the like, make sure you can write well - Professors can get pissed with bad grammar (they'd excuse you for Tagalog, obviously, but are extra harsh with everyone's English) enough to fail your paper or exam just on that.
Safety around our metro areas isn't bad, just don't look like a naive idiot, and steer clear of places that generally for the US would be like getting into places like East LA or some areas around Detroit (we have gang drug stabbings in place of the Cadillac drive-by shootings). Honestly, unless you're the type to poke around everywhere with a rangefinder camera (meaning urban decay is interesting for your photography) or drinking in really bad places with questionable people, you aren't likely to just stumble into these places. Philosophy/Theology classes in Catholic schools might require trips there, even sleeping overnight, but these are chosen by the Dept and your professors are there the whole time. Train lines are built near most of the universities, but they stop after 10PM, so plan your trips accordingly. If you want to eat street food, don't eat anywhere the students don't eat in - if one stall is popular among students, that's an indicator they haven't gotten anyone sick; our 7/11's (and similar) have sushi but personally I'd avoid that - get the Chinese steamed buns or the hot dogs if you need a quick meal (expect classmates to tell your they're made of cat meat and kangaroo meat, respectively). Depending on which school you go to, you might also have nicer restaurants nearby serving pure beef burgers, pulled brisket sandwiches, Thai and Italian food, etc; pubs range from cheap places serving fatty beer food on sizzling plates, to some places popular with the artsy or socialist students.
Humidity can be really bad on some months, so shower at least twice a day (before stepping out and before going to sleep, if you have phys ed class make sure you don't have a class right after it so you can shower first) - we've had Europeans not understanding the consequences of this until someone nice enough sits them down to talk to them about it. Be aware that good-looking foreigners can have a lot of people hitting on them; for guys specifically, it could be worse - strangers, mostly loud gay guys, on the street jokingly harassing with suggestive comments about eating bananas. It's very rarely the sort that develops into physical assault, but grow a thick skin or you'd be the one physically assaulting these annoying (but otherwise hilarious) pricks. For the girls, avoid shorts that show part of your buttcheeks for hygiene's sake - some kid could have stomped on that seat in McDonald's and you have no idea where his shoes have been (think of Paris' poodle poop problem up until a few years ago, then imagine that with our mogrel dingos and huge-ass guard dogs - nicer areas obviously won't have this problem). One last thing - if you date anyone, unless the parents are in another province, you'd have to meet them sooner than you might be used to - parents prefer meeting whoever their kids are going out with; heck, expect that when you go have beer at someone's house, the Mom might cook dinner/beer food (or Dad manning the grill), so always warmly say hello (bow your head a bit but don't do it as much as in mainland Asia) and mind your vocabulary in their presence.
Edited by ProtegeManiac - 9/4/13 at 4:04am
*It's actually Manila Tagalog, which for some bizarre reason even politicians from Cebu supported decades ago to becoming a lot more than Mandarin is to the Chinese, precisely by going as far as calling it "Filipino." As can be expected, with some people from Cebu, communicating with English can be smoother as some (understandably) resent the whole idea. A lot of people from Manila also think calling it Filipino was retarded, except you can have "nationalists" from freaking everywhere chest-thumping when you bring up such "idealist, unpatriotic, liberal crap" (not their exact words but that's basically what they amount to).