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I spent five years of my early childhood in Canada, and when we eventually moved back to Texas, one of the things that really tripped me up was how no one in the States drank milk out of a bag. The first lunch at my American elementary school was totally traumatic because I didn’t know how to open a milk carton. I observed the other kids opening theirs and tried faking it, but I wound up trying to open it from the wrong end, only to make a papery mess of things. I’m pretty sure the other kids thought I was retarded.
(The other lunchtime item I had never encountered during my time in the Great White North? Tater tots. A travesty!)
Years later, someone is finally exposing this great cultural divide. Phew.
As a public high school graduate, I didn’t know what a prep school was until I went to college and found myself surrounded by kids who had gone to Exeter, Andover, and St. Paul’s, among others. I quickly learned that being a graduate of one of these elite schools meant you were better prepared to write a 5-page paper on, say, homoeroticism in The Iliad, more predisposed to wearing fleece, obsessed with being “mellow,” well-versed in “lax” (i.e. lacrosse), a lover or hater of the Dead; someone who used “summer” as a verb, was attracted to people in baggy pants, had an elaborate eating disorder, knew how to ski, and owned a bong or two.
Yesterday, the NY Times published a front-page story on first-tier Korean prep schools that serve as Ivy feeders, and they sound just as fun. Some of the things these schools have to offer: