I’ve always had the desire to study in the land of Uncle Sam, but I never thought the opportunity would arise so soon. “Indira, do you want to go to college in the US?” asked my Mom. “Umm, yeah sure. Of course I would love to!” and with that, I applied to Green River Community College.
Unless you’re currently looking for schools or unless you live in Washington State, the name ‘Green River’ will probably sound very unfamiliar to you. In fact, it wasn’t until a month before my new student orientation that I found out about Green River. I didn’t really have much choice in which college I would be attending; I was preoccupied with my GCE ‘O’ Levels in Singapore and so, my Mom took charge and contacted the educational agencies in Indonesia. I’m not exactly sure why I finally decided to attend Green River; when I first stepped foot onto GRCC territory, I remember feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. However, in hindsight, I don’t regret coming to Green River a single bit.
So where exactly is Green River? Well, Green River Community College–GRCC for short– is a community college located in Auburn, WA. It’s in a small neighborhood called Lea Hill. Everything’s nice and quiet, and everything’s within reach. Want to watch a movie? Movie theatres, supermarkets, shopping malls are all within a fifteen minute drive. I have to admit, however, that I was rather frustrated with the entertainment options in Auburn. I mean, I’m not the type to party all weekend, but I was still rather disappointed. You won’t believe when I say this, but if you compare Indonesian shopping malls to the ones in Auburn, the ones in Indonesia are a thousand times better. There are more stores, better food, the design is more modern and aesthetically appealing, and it’s just overall better. I eventually got tired of the shopping malls in Auburn and started to go to downtown Seattle during the weekends. It was certainly more fun, but I didn’t have a car, so I had to take the bus, and it took me about an hour and twenty minutes to get there, compared to the 40 minutes it takes if you drive. I soon got bored and tired of going to downtown Seattle, and now I realize that it might actually be a good thing that GRCC is located in a small neighborhood. Less distraction makes it easier to keep focused on studies. I came here to study anyway, right? Anyway, now that I’ve finally adapted to life at GRCC, I have enough activities in school that I’m too preoccupied to go anywhere during the weekends.
If you read the ‘About GRCC section on the GRCC website, you will find out that GRCC “stretches over 180 acres of beautifully forested land.” Notice the word ‘forested’ here. What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘forested?’ A green campus with trees and flowers? That’s somewhat true, but not what I was aiming for. The word ‘forested’ comes from the word forest and GRCC is truly a forest. If you look up GRCC on Google Maps, you will see that we are surrounded by tons and tons of trees. We even have a jogging trail (in the forest) which will take you to the actual Green River. I guess it’s nice because it’s a refreshing view compared to the tall buildings in Seattle.
So what is there to do at Green River? Well, let’s start with the clubs.
Clubs at GRCC
There are fifteen permanent clubs at GRCC and twenty yearly renewing clubs. Don’t like any of the clubs? Make your own! That’s what I did. In fall 2012, I co-founded the GRCC Muslim Student Association and in winter 2013, I co-founded the GRCC Photography Club. The club creation process wasn’t too complicated; once you have ten members in the club, fill out the club forms, and get a staff or faculty member on board. Once all the forms are submitted, the ASGRCC Senate will review the forms and vote to approve the club. If it is approved, the club is an official GRCC club!
For me personally, I think joining clubs have been very rewarding. You get to meet people of the same interest, and for me, I feel like I have this group of people I belong with. You can also learn new things and sometimes, there are interesting and rare opportunities that pop up. For instance, because of my involvement with the GRCC Photo Club, one of my photos have been published in the school newspaper, The Current. As a newbie photographer, it definitely made my day.
On Campus Jobs
If you’re currently studying in the US, you might already know that international students aren’t allowed to get jobs off-campus. Hence, our choices of extra income are limited to only on-campus jobs. With a lot of students on campus, finding a job has always been tough.
There are several different job opportunities at Green River, ranging from marketing assistants to safety ride assistant. The most common job opportunity for international students is probably tutoring. As long as you’re doing well in your classes and are somewhat an expert at teaching other students, talk to an instructor about being a tutor. If you pass the evaluation given, ta dah! You are now a tutor. There are also quite a number of job opportunities provided by the International Programs. You can work as a receptionist, peer mentor, student marketing assistant, office aide, housing assistant, student advising assistant, and many more.
So what is CLEO and what does it stand for? CLEO–the Community, Leadership, Education and Outreach (CLEO) program–is an opportunity for students to gain experience in managing programs while at the same time earn money. There are different positions available in CLEO, and each position assumes responsibility for planning, organizing, budgeting, and implementing activities to meet the needs of GRCC students, faculty, and staff. It is definitely a rewarding job opportunity, because not only do you gain experience and grow your network, but you also earn money.
ASGRCC (Student Government)
For all you peeps out there who have been involved in the student council in high school, you might be interested in becoming a member of the Associated Students of GRCC (ASGRCC). ASGRCC is the officially recognized students’ voice in the governance of the college, and the major objective of ASGRCC is to provide the opportunity for student organization, to promote growth of the academic and social lives of students, and to help further relations with the total college community.
So, after having said all these wonderful comments about Green River, I do admit there are a couple of downsides to being a gator. The thing that shocked me the most about Green River is the abundance of Indonesians on campus. On one hand, I really enjoy having a lot of Indonesians around me, because it eased my transition into college life. Also, having peers who have gone through the exact same experience as me was helpful, it makes you think that “Wow, I’m not in this alone.” However, it also bothers me quite a bit because I didn’t come here to make more Indonesian friends; I came here to befriend students from other countries!
In hindsight, however, I can definitely say I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Green River. In my eyes, I see Green River as a carat of gold, hidden in a pile of dirt. First time you see it, you kind of dismiss it, thinking “Nah! Green River is just a normal college in the middle of nowhere.” The thing is, you’re only saying that because you haven’t started digging for the treasure. A couple months into my life in Washington, I started to get more involved in campus activities and started growing a network of friends, and I don’t mean to sound cliché, but it really changed my life. I can, without doubt, say that Green River has been the perfect stepping stone for me in my college life.