It’s been almost two years since I graduated from Green River – enough time to realize the immense impact studying in the U.S. has had on me, both personally and academically. When I first arrived at Sea-Tac, I was a rather shy kid unsure of what exactly I wanted from life. When I flew back to Europe two years later, I was a confident guy with too many dreams to realize in a single lifetime.
My name is Remco Zwetsloot, 20 years old, and I am currently a student at University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, the Netherlands. I did the medium level of high school, called “havo,” in the Netherlands before going to Green River for a gap year. Within three months, however, I realized I wanted to stay in America as long as possible: I was on the cross country team and had a great group of friends, fun classes, and a job on The Current, the college newspaper – I had never been happier.
I decided to stay for another year and get my Associate’s degree. Life got even better (and a lot busier) when I was selected to be Editor-in-Chief of The Current and started tutoring IESL students. Unfortunately, despite the jobs, I had run out of money by the time I graduated, and I had to return to the Netherlands. There, having become convinced of the superiority of the American liberal arts model of education, I enrolled at UCR, an international honors college of Utrecht University which employs the same model as Green River and other American universities.
There, I have since become actively involved in several student clubs. This year I was elected chairman of the Academic Affairs Council, a position which involves working with the university administration on all matters relating to academics. Last year I was offered a scholarship by The Fund for American Studies to spend a summer in Washington, D.C., enrolled at Georgetown University and doing an internship for a U.S. Senator.
None of this would have been possible without Green River. Not only did my Associate’s degree allow me to enroll at UCR (normally Dutch students can only enroll at universities after completing the highest level of high school, VWO), but my two years at GRCC also taught me everything I needed to be successful here. I had learned the value of student life and getting involved. I had gained the academic skills that allow me to be a successful student. I had acquired the writing skills and built up the résumé that helped me get my TFAS scholarship. I had grown into a confident person who easily makes friends.
Looking back on the two years at Green River, I don’t think I could have spent them any better. They certainly made a rather sizeable dent in my (and my parents’) bank account, but, in terms of life experience, they definitely made me as rich as I could have been.
Contact Green River Community College for more information on our Gap Year program