Six steps to choosing your Gap year program

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Are you thinking about going to the U.S. but you haven’t officially made up your mind? Here are six steps that helped me decide to do my  Gap year at Green River College.

STEP 1: Visit an agency.
There are a lot of agencies out there that offer a lot of fun things. Visit multiple agencies to figure out which one you feel most comfortable with and who offers Gap year programs that you might like.Blog (5)

STEP 2: Explore your Gap year options.
There are a lot of Gap year programs: language schools, High School programs, work and travel, Colleges etc. Try to get as much information as possible for you to have a clear idea what the programs are like and what program suits you best.

Blog (1)STEP 3: Talk to current and alumni students in the programs you’re interested in.
Every student has been through what you are going through right now so they know exactly how you feel. They can tell you what it is like to go to a place you have never been before.

STEP 4: Make a list of pros and cons.
Pros and cons always helped me to make decisions. It is a clear and easy way to see what the best option is for you.

STEP 5: Get the correct paperwork.
Make sure to check  that the paperwork needed for your journey is correct and discuss this with your agency. Think about TOEFL test scores, student visa, housing paperwork etc.

STEP 6: Get the courage to do it!
Once all the practical stuff is done the only thing left for you to do is to get the courage to actually go. Don’t hesitate anymore; you won’t regret your decision!!

Contact Green River College or contact me at mtromp@greenriver.edu for more information.

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Margot Steijger: Green River to California

Margot Steijger is a Dutch gap year student who is doing the “Green River to California” program. She is currently in Santa Barbara, studying at Santa Barbara City College. Contact Green River College for more information.

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Why did you choose to do a gap year?

“I had never thought of doing a Gap Year until I heard about a theatre program offered in America. I’m really passionate about acting, so this sounded like music to my ears. This program made me think about taking a year off between High School and University. My mum told me it would be a great opportunity to improve my English, meet new people, do a lot of acting and go on an adventure. Although it sounded like a lot of fun, it took me a while before I was sure I wanted to go. You know, America is a long way from home and a year is a long time to be away from home. Eventually my decision was made and I started to make plans.”

Why did you choose to do the “Green River to California” program?

“The theatre program I heard about was offered at SBCC (Santa Barbara City College). Unfortunately, by the time I wanted to go, they stopped offering the program. I still wanted to do a Gap Year in America, so my agency helped me look for a good alternative. Since SBCC was still one of the best places to go to when it comes to acting, it stayed on my list of places I wanted to go. During one of my conversations with my agency, Green River College came up. They told me Green River offered a different kind of program, in which a student could choose to go to two different colleges. And what are the odds, because one of the other colleges I could go to was SBCC. I was interested right away. It would give me the opportunity to go to two different states, two different colleges and meet even more people.”15871504_1148161711963513_1653611385529417378_n

  • What was your experience at Green River?

“Before I arrived at Green River, I already got a lot of help from the people that work there.
They wanted to make sure that everything would be set and done before I got on my airplane. From the first moment at the Green River till the day I left, I loved being there. It has a beautiful, green and modern campus with a lot of facilities for students. Nature is literally all around you and with just a ten minute walk over one of the many trails behind the campus you reach a stunning view of Mount Rainier. All of my teachers were great and I enjoyed going to all of my classes very much. In my free time, between or after classes, I worked at the Foundation Office with these wonderful people, I hung out with my amazing friends or went for a work-out in the free gym facility on campus. Also a good thing about Green River is that whenever I had a problem, I just had to tell someone15390777_1144823762298294_7611567420120114906_n and help was on its way. I had such a good time that it almost made me stay at Green River and not go to SBCC.”

Where did you live when you studied at Green River and how did you like it?

“During the time I was at Green River, I stayed with a host family. Before I met them I was a bit nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be the best host family ever. They were so nice and took me in as part of the family. They wanted me to have the best time of my life, so they took me and my friend to a lot of places. We went on multiple mini road trips through Washington State, but also to Portland in Oregon. We went Black Friday Shopping, we went to the theater, to events at the High School of my host sister, to a Halloween party, we had a game night with some friends of my host mother and so on. I never felt bored or homesick and they indeed made sure that I had the time of my life. I think saying good-bye to them when I left for SBCC, might have been the hardest thing in my life.”

You transferred to SBCC, what is your first impression of SBCC?

“My first impression of the campus of SBCC when I arrived was “wow”. The campus is located almost literally on the 16864600_768154420028683_2212319187531755329_nbeach and the view over the ocean is amazing. The campus itself is really big. They have their own baseball, tennis and soccer/football fields, they have great buildings, nice places to sit outside and palm trees everywhere. I don’t think it is fair to compare it to the campus at Green River, because they both have their own beauty and one is not better than the other. I do believe that the help new students get when they first arrive is a lot less at SBCC than at Green River. And where Green River organizes a lot for their students, such as hikes, events at school and trips in the introduction week, at SBCC, they don’t have that at all. You are much more on your own, and for some people it works and some people it doesn’t. This doesn’t say anything about the classes and teachers, because the ones I am taking are great.”

How different is SBCC from Green River?

“I decided to stay in  student housing in Santa Barbara, since I already experienced living with a host family in Washington. I don’t regret this choice, because my housemates were the first friends I made. I think it is really fun to have friends living in your house. You can spend a lot of time together, it is easy to make plans for the weekend and when you need something or want to hang out with them, they are only a door away. The house I live in is a part of a bigger housing association. They have multiple houses and apartments for students and organize a lot of events for them. Through these events I explore the area and they are also a good way to make new friends.”

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Washington State

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California: Santa Barbara

What did you do at SBCC to meet other students again?

“As I said, SBCC doesn’t really have an introduction week in which I was able to make friends. That is why I started to make friends at school once the classes started. In acting classes students get to know each other rather quickly and really well, so within two weeks I had made friends in all of my classes. Besides having fun during our classes, we meet up in weekends or at the end of a school day to hang out, go on hikes or go get food.”

Would you recommend the Green River to California program and why?

“So far, as you might have read, I really like the Green River to California program and I would recommend it to every student that is considering going to America. You get to experience two whole different worlds and that is what makes the program so great for Gap Year Students like me. I’m not here to study hard and get good grades, I am here to go on adventures, make new friends and get as much out of my year as possible.”14666066_10209559294171531_2824777906745348010_n

Do you have tips for students who are thinking about coming to the US?

“I think it doesn’t really matter what kind of program you choose to do, as long as you grab every chance with both hands and enjoy it as much as you possibly can.”

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Learn more about Green River College’s Gap Year programs.

Want to know more about Green River College and all it has to offer?  Contact Green River College, we’ll be happy to hear from you and help answer your questions.

Say hi to Ana, another international student

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Ana Ballesta is an 18 year old international student from Uruguay. She is trying to get her Associates in Arts degree here at Green River College.

Why did you decide to study at Green River College?
I decided to study at Green River College because I spent two months in EF Seattle (language school) and I loved Washington State, so I decided to start my education here. When I did my research I found out about Green River College and how welcoming they are to international students so I decided Green River College was the place to start.

How do you like Green River College so far?
So far my experience has been great. I love the campus, the people here are really nice and welcoming and the classes I am taking this quarter are going good.

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Campus Corner Apartments

 

How do you like Campus Corner Apartments (CCA) so far?
CCA is a really good place to live, especially when you just get here. I like it because it’s next to the campus, and because you live close to your friends. I was lucky that I became friends with one of my roommates this makes the experience at CCA way better.

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What do you do as an international student to get involved around school?
Getting involved around school is really important, mostly when you are new because you get to meet new people. Personally, I joined the European club and I’m always looking for events. There is always something going on on-campus, and most times it is really fun to join those events.

 

What are you trying to achieve at Green River College?
I’m here at Green River College trying to achieve my Associates in Arts (AA) degree, and then transfer to a 4 year university.

What are your plans after Green River College?
I haven’t decided exactly what my plans are after I finish here at Green River College, my major is International Relations but I’m still considering whether to transfer to a university in America or Europe. But there is still time :).

Meet Tessa, another Dutchie!

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Tessa Vermeer is a 17 year old Dutch student who is doing the two quarter gap year program at Green river.

Why did you choose to do a Gap year?
I already knew what I wanted to study in The Netherlands, but I would graduate in 4 years if I would have started studying right after high school. To start working after those 4 years, when I’m only 21, was a little too quick for me. So I decided to go abroad.

Why did you choose to go to Green River?
I had to choose between several universities in America. I chose Green River because of their international program and because they have apartments on campus (CCA).

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What is your first impression of Green River?
Very positive; the employees are very open and they genuinely want to help. It is completely different from what I am used to. My high school was relatively small compared to Green River, there are so many buildings here!img_1554

What do you do to get involved around campus?
I go to a lot of activities that the school offers. Some of these activities are a little expensive but there are a lot of fun ones that are cheap as well! I also joined some clubs such as the math and the physics club. I try to go to as many activities as possible, and most importantly I try to be open to meet new people.

You live in CCA, how do you like it so far?
I had to get used to living with three other girls in the beginning, two of them didn’t talk so it didn’t really make me feel at home. I am very happy I became friends with the one of my roommates. I also wasn’t used to doing laundry myself or doing my own groceries so that was also something I had to get used to. I am really happy to live in CCA now that I got used to everything, I love that there is a lot of freedom.

What are you planning to do when you get back to The Netherlands?
I am going to study mechanical engineering in Eindhoven. Eindhoven is a city in The Netherlands that is super close to my hometown. I chose Eindhoven because it is a fun city and a very good university.

Do you have any tips for new students?img_1555
Join as many activities as you can, do not stay in your room and try to get in touch with other students. Try to make it feel like home here, don’t see being here as being far away from your home country but make it your second home because it is going to be a long six months (or however long you are staying) if you don’t.