well, in holland the high-school system will start at 11-12 years of age. you have 3 main levels, VMBO, HAVO, VWO (the full titles are dutch, and you would not understand em). VMBO is the lowest. when you finish that (after 4 years in high school) you can either choose to go to HAVO, or go and pick a subject you like, and then specialise in that, but then you will be put in the worst, and heaviest jobs.
HAVO (l'm in HAVO) is the medium level. when you're done there (5 years of high school), you can get the bit more normal jobs like sitting in an office, or lab, and getting told what to do. or you could choose to go to VWO.
VWO is the highest, and your only done there after 6 years. with VWO you can get into all the universities easy, and you get the really high jobs.
I am currently in my last year of HAVO
Learning Kanji is like trying to memorize a cartoon, how to draw it, what the caption is, and what the caption MEANS. and most of the time there's more than one caption.