Christine Blok takes a Gap Year at Green River


Today we talk to Christine Blok, a Dutch student from Leiden who is in her second quarter at Green River. She talks about enjoying her friends, classes and exploring the area.

“I’ve had a great time so far, starting from orientation on. During the first week in America, the orientation kept me very busy, which gets your mind off home. I got to know a lot of people, mainly because you all go through the same things together and you can depend on each other for help. With the friends I’ve made, I like to go out for dinner, or chill.

I’ve taken a few courses I never thought I would take. I tried kickboxing, political science, and psychology. I really liked the courses, they were really interesting. Advisers have good resource for finding fun classes, and friends are very helpful as well in picking the fun classes.

At the Space NeedleDuring the winter break, I visited a lot of different places. Olympic National Park and Portland were nice to go to. Going to the Space Needle right before sunset is very beautiful, because the view on the city. For another good view of Seattle, Kerry Park is a good place to visit. It is really good to have friends with cars so that you can see places like these. I still want to go to Canada, which is only 3 hours from here.

For people who are considering a GAP-year, I would recommend to just do it. You get to do things you might have never done. During such a GAP-year it is really important to open yourself up and just experience things, get out of your comfort-zone.”DSC_0036


What is it like to study at Green River?

DSC00467Four new Dutch students arrived at Green River College this past fall. They have had one quarter of classes and are now in their second quarter.  We reflect back on how their first quarter went, what they like about their GAP year and tips for future students. This time, we’ll be talking with Milou Tromp from Nijmegen.

“Green River offers many different activities for students. I have been to the Fright Fest (a Halloween party in an amusement park), the Halloween Party, the German town, Leavenworth, a basketball game with friends and last weekend, I went skiing in Whistler, Canada. I like Green River because the school is relatively small but there are many international students. Because of this, I know and recognize many different people. The number of international students is both good and bad.  I have many different friends from all over the world who are all going through similar situations as I am, but it also makes it hard to get to know American students because I have created friendships already.

DSC00103There are many different ways to get to know new people here. The orientation has a Seattle trip and an overnight camp (CORE) on the schedule. Through these activities, I got to know a lot of people. Not only those trips, but also the breakfast and lunch at school and the campus tour was very helpful. I also got enrolled in the Foundation For Success program, a program in which current students help new students get used to the American culture, education system and life in a new country.

For students who are considering a GAP year or study abroad, I would say, do it!  Don’t let your doubts stop you. You will not regret going abroad, even though it can sometimes be hard. There are always people who want to help you, you just have to reach out to them.”


New Dutch students. Left to right: Iman, Casper, Walter, Milou, Christine



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.