What to expect your first quarter at Green River CC

DSCN1314Going abroad is a big step, so you want to be sure you don’t get into some kind of creepy place, or somewhere that no one helps you out. Fortunately, Green River offers a lot of help to new international students.

Help starts from the moment you arrive at the airport in Seattle. Green River provides an  airport pick-up service , where they match you up with one of the many drivers or host families they have. This means you don’t have to worry about finding the right bus, or trying to explain a taxi-driver how to get to Green River.

After arrival, there are a few days of orientation, in which you get to learn about the American Culture, you learn how the system works (healthcare, safety, etc.). And one of the most important aspects of orientation is getting to meet new friends. There are two completely free activities during orientation week, a Seattle-trip and a overnight camping trip (C.O.R.E.). These activities are very good for getting to know more people and building new friendships.

When the quarter starts, new students are not completely left on their own. There are two mandatory classes: International Student College Experience and Foundation For Success (FFS).

International Student College Experience mainly focuses on academic success; it teaches about the way the American classroom works, as well as communication with teachers and American students, homework expectations and plagiarism.

In the FFS class, the focus is more on the personal success of being in a completely new environment. All new students have a peer mentor who is guides them during the first eight weeks of their student life. Students will get to know how to manage stress, how to spend their money efficiently, and how to get around the area.

kiki-mamtha-cherylAll these programs are created to help you succeed and to help you not to feel lonely or completely overwhelmed in a new culture. Of course these programs are not a guarantee that a culture shock is not going to happen, but it gives you the opportunity to not feel lonely when you arrive in a completely new country.

When I arrived for my first quarter at Green River, I was really homesick. I wanted to go home a few days after arrival. But because of the students around me, and the friends I made, I started to feel comfortable here. Orientation and the introductory classes for students helped me make new friends and the many resources on campus helped me to feel at home.  Now I don’t want to leave Green River.

Salmon statue

Washington Salmon

134608_363346327088838_1890417590_oFall is here, and for the people of Washington, that means salmon migration. In the fall salmon start swimming up  the river to lay their eggs. Salmon have to jump to some of the higher places in the river. These days, many salmon have passed our school through the Green River. There are some cities in Washington that are organizing special Salmon days events.

Last weekend, I went to one of the big salmon days in Issaquah, a small city north of Auburn. This yearly event is visited by many people all over Washington. Besides watching the salmon trying to jump over some kind of dam, there are many more things to do. There is a lot of food and other great goodies that are sold. One of the awesome things I saw is a boot where they sold ancient bats that were labeled as a wedding gift, baby shower gift etc.

Even for a non-salmon lover like me, this event is awesome and definitely worth visiting.


Woman trying to close overfilled suitcase

Studying abroad? What I learned to pack and not to pack

move in dayWhen you study abroad, everything is different, the culture, the people, the food, and for many people the language. You might not always realize it, but different western countries have different products. In the last 2 years I’ve noticed several differences between the Netherlands, where I was born and raised, and the USA, where I came 2 years ago to study. I didn’t pack certain things because I assumed these things would be  sold here in the US. In addition, there were things that I packed, but found were available in the U.S.  I hope my mistakes will help you know what to bring and what not to bring when coming here to study.

Things you should bring:

  1. Food. You can never bring enough of your traditional home countries food. You might not think you value food that much until you can’t buy it anymore. Most of the students I know miss first their food, than their pet and after that their family. ;-) There are some food that you are prohibited from bringing into the US.  So make sure you read up on this before packing it.
  2. Pictures. Pictures are a great way to decorate your room. You can bring them on a computer or already printed, but it is a great memory about all the people at home.
  3. Travel adapter. Though you can buy chargers here as well, it is probably cheaper to buy a travel adapter.
  4. Something typical from your country. It is always fun to share something about your culture. This can be food, traditional clothing, or in my case wooden shoes.
  5. Souvenirs. It is nice to give your new host family or roommates a nice present.
  6. Some cash. It is always useful to have some cash, just in case  your credit card is not working or that you need a deposit to start a new bank account here.
  7. Basic medicines. It is always good to have some aspirins or cold medicines. You might need them before you are able to go to the grocery store.
  8. A good attitude. Though this doesn’t put any weight in your suitcase, it is always good to bring it. You can make a whole new start and no one knows about the person you were. This can only bring good things to you. Be open and willing to get to know others.


Things you shouldn’t bring too much of:

  1. Clothes. You don’t need to bring too many clothes. I am sure you’ll buy some here because everyone does. Name brand clothes are usually cheaper in America than in Europe. If you buy too many clothes, you  won’t be able to pack them all without having to buy another suitcase. My advise is to bring some clothes for good weather and some for colder weather.  Layers are important.
  2. Body products. Don’t bring huge bottles of shampoo, toothpaste and other things you use. Day to day products are available here as well, and you can use the space in your suitcase much better right? Though I do want to point out one difference I noticed, the deodorant Americans use is different from the deodorant that I am used to.  Americans use some kind of soap block, where in the Netherlands we use rollers or spray, so be aware of that, or bring it. For other things, bringing travel size articles is good enough.
  3. Electronic devices other than your computer and phone. There is no need to bring a straightener, hair dryer, rice cooker and other things like this. Some of these devices can’t be used on travel adapters, and they are available here as well.
  4. Translators. Unless your English is not good at all, don’t bother bringing dictionaries or translators. It is heavy and takes a lot of space in your suitcase. If you need to find a translation for something, you can use Google or another online dictionary.
  5. Eye solution for lenses. Though you should consult your eye doctor about this, but I found the same solution for my eyes in the grocery store. It could have saved me about 4 kg. in my suitcase. Though you shouldn’t forget to bring new sets of contact lenses.

I hope my suggestions are useful.  So many of my friends had to buy extra suitcases or ship their belongings home. This can get very expensive.

Good luck and happy travels.


Club and Advisor of the Year

European club voted club of the year!

The week before finals, Student Life organized an awards banquet to recognize all the great clubs and organizations for the year.  Club and organization leaders and advisors are invited to this event and are given certificates and awards to show appreciation for their contributions for that year.

My friend Jytte (Vice-president of the European Club) and I (president of the European Club) got chosen by the European club advisor, Lansing, to attend the dinner. At the awards banquet, they also give out an award for the best event, best advisor and best club of the year.  My dream was to win one of those awards.

From left: Lansing Bryan, Jytte Hendrikse, Kiki van Essen

From left: Lansing Bryan, Jytte Hendrikse, Kiki van Essen

At the very end of the banquet, those prizes were given out.  I was really nervous. The first prize that was given out, the one for the best event, was won by the Ministery of Madness, an improv club at Green River. They organized an event to raise money with humor. Than it was time for the second award, the one for the best Club of the year. The presenter told a story about a club that organized events like ice skating, berry picking, roller skating and a museum trip. When I heard the description, I  knew that we had won! The European Club got the best club of the year award!!! I was so happy!  After we got the prize, the presenter told us to stay on the stage, because she wanted to announce that the European Club Advisor won the Club Advisor of the year! The European club not only has the best club,  but also the best advisor! :)

If you would like to join our club next fall, let me know.