Is it time you crossed the Atlantic to experience the summer of a lifetime? If you’ve decided to go on a J1 this summer but can’t decide where to go, it can be tough. They say ‘the west coast is the best coast’, but is it? On the east coast places like New York, Boston, Ocean City, Cape Cod and the islands (Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket) are also extremely popular with J1 students.
Four students share their experiences
The East Coast
3rd Year Communications student at DCU
I went to Hyannis Port in Cape Cod. It’s a holiday town which is about a two-hour bus drive from Boston City. I went over with four friends. Initially we spent about three days trawling the main street and the mall handing in CVs – eventually things began to come together.
Two of the girls were really lucky and got jobs together in a little novelty shop. Myself and the two others then got jobs cleaning big houses, which was really hard work though the houses were amazing. I also got another job, as a waitress in a seafood restaurant called Cookes Seafood.
I found it easy to get a job there although it might not be quite so easy early in the season. I went at the start of June which is before the holiday season, so places were extremely quiet. Hyannis was a ghost town at the start but as the weeks went on job offers started rolling in. There are loads of restaurants and shops and a massive mall, employing lots of people.
Everyone in Hyannis cycled everywhere – it took me about 5 minutes to cycle back and forth to work. It might not be the coolest thing to do in Ireland but cycling is the only way to travel in Hyannis. My biggest tip to potential Cape Cod visitors is be prepared to slum it – you’ll probably struggle to find accommodation.
Other than that Hyannis is perfect if you’re looking for easy work, sun, sand and sea. It’s also an easy enough trip to Boston and New York.
Enda Mc Cague
Science student at NUIG
I went to Chestnut Hill, Boston, just off Boston college campus in a privately-owned house. It wasn’t easy to find work, it took about a week and a half of constantly asking around door-to-door and filling out job application forms. I got work in the restaurant Wagamama.
My advice would be to get out early to increase chances of getting a job and choose who you stay with carefully – when living in cramped conditions people are bound to fall out. Try not to socialise too much with other Irish students either. If you don’t meet some Americans you might as well have stayed in Ireland.
Ocean City, Maryland
Nursing student at UCD
I went to Ocean City, Maryland. I found it easy to get a job but I did have to spend a full day walking in and out of shops. It’s all about timing. If you go in at around 9 in the morning before they open it’s a good time.
I worked in a beach shop making t-shirts and selling beach wear – and I hated it. Stupidly, I took the first job I got without assessing the place. There was a 3-mile-long boardwalk in Ocean City with plenty of jobs going.
You should be careful about where you work and ask how many hours they are going to give you, as you don’t want too many or too little. Remember, being a sales assistant in America is much different to Ireland, you have to be much more invasive and outgoing.
I would definitely recommend Ocean City as a J1 destination. For me, it was like one big party for 3 months. There’s no need for taxis – you walk everywhere or get a bus anywhere in OC for only $1.
I would avoid Ocean City if you’re under 21 however, as it’s very strict and you won’t get in to any nightclubs unless you have a brilliant fake I.D. That was the only downside for me as I was only 19.
Overall, I loved living on a beach for 3 months, getting to do water sports, eat crab and get a tan!
3rd Year Communications student at DCU
My first week in New York was far from pleasant. House-hunting has to be one of the most awful experiences in the world. We had a lot of trouble trying to find a place that would fit six people for three months without costing a solid fortune. Most landlords there only offer year-long leases.
The apartment we lived in was very basic – it was located in Ridgewood Queens (A.K.A Little Columbia). A policeman warned us against Uthica Avenue in the Bronx, so I would avoid this place.
All five of us had jobs within three days of looking. When my friend joined us in July she was offered a job in the third restaurant she tried. You can’t expect wages to be great however: it’s the tips that keep you going.
I’d recommend New York because there is always something to do. If you’re bored at 11 or 12pm at night you just have to hop onto the subway and you can go anywhere in New York.
The Irish look after themselves – if you’re looking for a job go straight into an Irish bar, just preferably not around Times Square. Places such as Astoria, Woodside and Woodlawn are good areas to start looking and I know from experience that the people in these areas will look after their own.
A word of warning for girls prone to Irish pastiness: I would recommend bringing plenty of tan mitts. You can buy Sally Hansen there, but there are no tan mitts anywhere in the city and people may look at you funny if you ask for them.