Firstly you will have to choose which company you will book your j1 through. There aren’t a huge amount of choices here really – it’s going to be USIT, Sayit or TravelBug. More than likely (and unfortunately) you’re probably going to pick USIT (which I did this year), and that was mistake number one. USIT know that they are the number one choice for students hoping to spend the summer in America, and so they make no effort to have any sort of a competitive rate and it will turn out more expensive than the other companies. But it’s fine – they are reliable and they will get you there.
Second of all, be prepared to be bombarded from all angles. Your email will never be so popular again for the rest of your life. You will receive two or three copies of the same email alerting you of new deadlines and guidelines. As well as this, you will be bombarded via text, which is always nice. And it does not stop there. USIT requires an alternative email address, I (stupidly) volunteered my Dad’s, so he too gets bombarded with emails and as result I also get verbally bombarded at home. However it is worth having a glance at these emails as every once in a while, one is actually important.
Another thing to be prepared for is that you will feel like you’re being robbed. You cannot book your own flights, so my advice is to not even look at the fares – you’re only taunting yourself.
Be on the lookout for “the form”. This form is formally known as a DS-160 and it will be the temporary bain of your life. It is 2 million pages long and must be filled out in full in order to go to your embassy meeting – which brings to the topic of the embassy meeting.
It is in Ballsbridge; that is a trek. You can get the dart to Landsdowne and walk, that is also a trek. You can take your car and pay half your months wages on parking, that is also a bit of a trek. You will be there for hours, no matter what time your meeting is scheduled for – so bring something to keep you occupied.
I do have one more thing to say. After all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, you will have the best summer of your life – no doubt about it. So turn off your email alerts, get familiar with the train times, get saving and suck it up, because it is so worth it.