For Irish students, a J1 is all about living the American dream for a summer. A carefree, breezy three months of sun, partying and experiencing a new culture. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations before your trip.
Everything that could have went wrong on my J1 trip to Boston last year did, from being homesick to being ripped off by a landlord who charged $750 rent a month per person. Our apartment was also infested with mice. I have an extreme phobia of small creatures that crawl at an abnormally fast pace and once I saw a mouse running across our cooker it was enough for me to book a flight home after only three weeks. I couldn’t even secure a job for the summer with seven year’s retail experience.
Going on a J1 to a big city is all about timing. Getting there ahead of the crowd is the secret to nabbing the best jobs. Last year, there was a surge in J1 students arriving in Boston and those who arrived in early to mid-June found it extremely hard to get a job. But if you can get it right by planning and going with a good group of friends, Boston is a great city that you will never get bored in.
Boston Public Garden is a great place to hang out and relax with friends. The humidity can go through the roof in the middle of the summer and the splash pools and lemonade stands in the gardens provide a great spot to paddle and cool off. The Freedom Trail Office can be found here too. The walking tours are a great way to get to know your way around the city and learn about the history of the American Revolution.
Boston is one of the more health-conscious cities in the US. Faneuil Hall is the ultimate foodie hangout. The food hall hosts an array of stands from noodles to Boston’s famous seafood chowder. Dick’s Last Resort, a grill restaurant, is well worth a visit and will give you a good laugh. The city’s top night-life spots are also in the area. The Italian Quarter of the city, situated in the North End, serves the best pasta and gelato I have ever tasted. Ristorante Saraceno and Mike’s Pastry were our favourites.
It’s the people of Boston who really make a J1 in the city a summer to remember. They are the friendliest people you will come across and genuinely want to know everything about you and Ireland. The Irish bars in districts such as Brighton come alive on a Sunday night or when GAA matches are on; perfect for when you are feeling homesick.
- Before you get there use any contacts you have. Boston is all about everything Irish. Even if it’s your granny’s best friend’s niece who owns a bar, use them. The Boston GAA community is also massive. If you can organise playing on a team while over there it can lead to job offers through word of mouth.
- Finding an internet café in Boston is virtually impossible. Try to find a local Staples store nearby. They usually have a couple of computers with internet access that are handy for printing off CVs.
- A weekly pass for Boston’s main transportation system the MBTA is only $18. If you are commuting to work in the city centre, it’s a much cheaper option than paying per ride.
Image: Ciara Moore