J1 destinations – Part 2

The visa companies are doing their utmost to attract students to take part in their programmes – visa company U.S.I.T are offering a J1 visa for just €99 now when it was €279 only a few weeks ago. ‘Go4Less’ are also offering it for as little as €99.

They are hoping to further tempt you to take the trip States-side. Each visa companies is relatively the same once you comply with their rules and regulations and check both for the best deal. If you’re tempted to go but still need to find the best destination for you, four more students tell of their experiences in the U.S of A.

The West Coast

Liam Shannon, Masters in E-Commerce at DCU.

I first stayed at a hostel called ‘Fort Mason hostel’ in San Francisco and then moved in with my cousin near San Francisco University. I worked with a group of Irish people doing furniture removals, but I had saved a good bit before going out there so I didn’t need to work that much. I did a lot of drinking in the college fraternity houses instead. I found there wasn’t as many jobs there as people might think.

You must spend a good bit of time looking at craiglist.com and going around bars etc early before the summer kicks in. I would advise people to try and start looking for a job the minute they land if they want to make money and to move into a place on the outskirts of San Francisco because the rent can be very high. Many students there on J1’s got jobs renting bikes and working for aquariums etc.

Neil Kelly, Final Year Computer Science at UCD

I lived in San Francisco and I also travelled to San José, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Diego.
I arrived before the end of May so I was there before the onrush of J1ers. I would advise people to go this early as then they have the best chance of getting work. We arrived on the Friday night and had jobs found by Tuesday. The company I worked for only hired 10 more people in mid-July so if we weren’t early I wouldn’t have gotten the job. There are many places known for hiring Irish so keep going back to them.
I would absolutely recommend the J1 experience. It was the best 3 months of my life; I made life-long friends and you can’t have the fun of J1 when you’re older. My friend was lucky enough to have Gaelic football training beside the Pacific Ocean just before sunset – not many people can say that. We saw Mrs. Doubtfire’s’ house and met people from all around the world. It is a unique city and an absolute must-visit.

The North East

Lorna Finnegan, Communications at DCU

I went to Chicago and stayed in Kedzie which was the last stop on the brown train line. Once you get accommodation anywhere near a CTA (train) line or bus stop you’re pretty much sorted as public transport is fantastic in Chicago. I would try to get as many viewings as possible and book yourself into a hostel for around a week before you go just to be safe, as house-hunting is the worst part of the J1 experience by far.
Again, jobs were as rare as houses and it was a rat-race to get them. I got a job in a dodgy Bosnian restaurant for the first month. It wasn’t ideal. After that I got a job in a bar for the last month & a half. You’ll need to have a social security number before many places will pay you may be there a few weeks before you are sorted with pay.

Chainstore ‘Forever Yogurt’ employs lots of Irish students and there are shops everywhere. It is handy work and easy money. The shop employed all 11 of my friends but we were a little bit too laid-back and so had to find jobs elsewhere.

For the boys I would recommend furniture removal: the work may mean long hours but if you work hard for the first few weeks you’ll make enough money to have a great time for the rest of the summer. There are plenty of jobs as waitresses and hostesses in restaurants, you just need to keep applying.

I’d definitely recommend Chicago to Irish students. It’s an unbelievably clean city, is laid-back without the hustle and bustle of New York and it has lots of big green parks, and beaches. I found bars weren’t too strict on the legal drinking age of 21 either, which was a bonus.

The Big Apple

Catriona Hughes, final year Journalism at DCU

I went to New York in 2011.Luckily, I found a job as a hostess on my second day in the city, in an Irish/American sports bar facing the Empire State building between 5th and 6th Avenue. NYC is home to a countless number of Irish bars and in order to keep the Irish tradition alive, the bars are usually happy to employ Irish students who come early in the summer.

Trying to find and organise accommodation on the other side of the Atlantic can be a nightmare as sub-letting may be sparse and scam-artists chance their luck on sites such as craigslist.com. I lived on First Avenue in the East Village and rent was $700 per person per month sharing with three people. Although the rent is expensive in Manhattan, it is worth the money as you are within walking distance or just a short sub-way ride away from everything.

I would definitely recommend doing a J1 to all Irish students as it is a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the culture of another country. NYC does exactly what it says on the tin and it is globally renowned for it’s fashion, nightlife and culture so it’s definitely worth a visit.

If I were to go to NYC again I wouldn’t change a thing, apart from saving more money beforehand to cover rent for the three months. I loved the fact that there is something to do in the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is the epitome of a city that truly never sleeps.

Emma O’Rourke

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