Dutch student Remco Zwetsloot chose to do a gap year at Green River Community College after finishing school. Below he explains how his time studying abroad in the US paved the way for postgraduate study at Oxford University.

Green River student Remco Zwetsloot

Remco Zwetsloot, 22, AAat Green River Community College (2009-2011); BA in International Relations at University College Roosevelt (2011-2014); MPhil in International Relations at University of Oxford (2014-2016).

I originally came to Green River wanting to do a gap year, looking for an international and educational adventure after high school. After three months at GRCC, however, I was convinced that I wanted to stay and get my Associate’s degree in International Relations. Quite shy when I first got to the US, I had managed in a very short time to find a great group of friends, a job on the college newspaper, and I was academically challenged and interested in my classes for the first time in my life.

Life got even better (and a lot busier) when I was selected to be Editor-in-Chief of The Current and started teaching English to fellow 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.

I continued my involvement in campus life when I went on to University College Roosevelt in The Netherlands. Because of my involvement in college journalism at GRCC, I was offered a scholarship by the Netherland-America Foundation to participate in The Fund for American Studies’ summer program in Washington, D.C. in 2012. Having tutored many fellow international students from Asia during my time at GRCC, I ended up going to Wuhan University, China, in 2013 for a summer program to explore a country I became interested in during my time in the US.

Most recently, I was accepted to a prestigious graduate degree at Oxford, something I wouldn’t have dreamed of had it not been for the ambition I acquired while studying at Green River. During my time at GRCC, I learned lessons that I am still using today and without which I would never have gotten into Oxford. Not only did I learn how to write papers, argue well and present in front of large groups of people, the extracurricular activities on campus were also pivotal learning experiences.

People often ask me what the main lesson I learned from studying abroad was. It’s a question that’s impossible to answer. Even a few years later, I occasionally find myself thinking back to experiences that I didn’t realize mattered until recently. What I can say is my time at Green River affected me in all walks of life: personal, social, and academic. I’m sure I’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come.

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About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.