Walter and Casper visit San Francisco

11003932_912678698763835_1148262949_nPresidents Day is usually the third Monday in February and not only celebrates George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but is also a day to recognize all the Presidents in the America.  In addition,  Green River is closed on that day so students can enjoy a three-day weekend.

During Presidents Day weekend, Walter Schinkelshoek from Serooskerke and Casper Smit from Hilversum went to San Francisco to enjoy this holiday.

“San Francisco was a lot of fun,” said Walter. “Casper and I booked our hotel and flight online, because going to San Francisco is quite affordable. It was really nice to escape from the cold and walk around in our shorts and even get a little sunburn. San Francisco is like the American Barcelona.

11007407_912678795430492_1392182934_nWe visited a lot of different places. Biking over the Golden Gate Bridge was great. On the way back we took a ferry and while on the ferry, we saw the sun set behind the Golden Gate Bridge, which was very beautiful. The Pier was a nice place to hang out too. We walked around and watched the seals. It almost felt European to me. To get around we used the Cable Car, a very touristic way of transportation in San Francisco.

It is really nice to go with someone to another place in America. It is important to bring good shoes, mainly because if you only have 3 days, you’ll be walking around in the city a lot. It is really easy to travel around in the US if you are there anyway.”11004744_912679162097122_704042750_n


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.