Everything you’ve ever witnessed on a California-based TV show is the real deal. From celeb-spotting in Hollywood to pep rallies and bonfires on the beach; if a West Coast summer appeals to you, enlist your Entourage and hot foot it to The Hills.
I spent summer 2013 living in a miniscule one bedroom apartment with six of my closest friends in the Pacific Beach suburb of San Diego. From Taco Tuesdays to Sundays spent in Mexico, if having fun is your main preoccupation for summer 2014, there is no other contender for a J1 destination.
As San Diego is a J1 hotspot, jobs and accommodation can be difficult to come by. Research is key. We arrived a week too late, eager to set up our blow up mattresses and unpack three months worth of Penneys bikinis. The result was forking out an extortionate amount for an unfurnished apartment. In hindsight, the best advice I can offer is to get there in mid/late May and hit the pavement to search for short term rentals. The best offers will be snapped up by US college students who head to the beach for summer so don’t delay. Book into the infamous Banana Bungalows hostel for your first few days.
Ensure you have your CV converted into an American Resumé format. A word to the wise, Yanks want to see a short and snappy skills summary, not a long winded document, so take a look at samples online. Hospitality jobs are notoriously hard to come by for the Irish, but jobs in beach shops, ice-cream carts, Sea World and the Zoo are plentiful. Just grin and bear the humiliating uniforms complete with umbrella hats.
San Diego nightlife is a world away from the fast paced buzz of cities like New York and Boston. Denim shorts, flat sandals and baseball caps are the look for guys and girls, and the locals hit the bars for relaxed cocktails at 4pm. During a summer in San Diego, you’re guaranteed to sink enough Margaritas and Coronas to last you your adult life. The aforementioned Taco Tuesday is the biggest night of the week, where you can expect $1 Mexican street food and pitchers of salty tequila at every turn.
Ask any Irish person about their experience in San Diego and you’re sure to hear mentions of Typhoon and Hollywood Ray. Typhoon is the institution that the inhabitants of Pacific Beach worship. If Coppers had a Californian counterpart, Typhoon is it. Typhoon is closed one day of the week – Sundays. While bars and clubs are ten a penny on the Pacific Beach strip, Sundays call for one thing only; Mexico. Fork out $20 to a representative of the elusive Hollywood Ray and you won’t look back. Before you know it, you’re boarded onto a bus to the Mexican border with Ray himself and hundreds of rowdy buachaillí agus cailiní. A quick security check at customs and you’re on route to an all day session in a makeshift club on Rosarito Beach.
Mexico is synonymous with drugs and crime, but these trips are supervised and safe. The craic, however, is not compromised. Between mechanical bulls, sumo suits, tequila pong and drunken ceilís to Galway Girl as the Mexican sun sets; you’ll never want to leave.
Similarly Las Vegas is only a few hours’ drive, and Los Angeles is a mere bus journey away. The only downside is you’ll be tight fixed to fit in everything on your Cali Bucket List. Log on to j1online.ie for more details.
Image: matt.tourdot via flickr.com