J1 season is here and thousands of Irish students are scraping together the final pennies for their summer of a lifetime. That touchdown in the States is the best feeling and you really do think the Summer will last a lifetime, however this is not the case and the J1 Summer flies by so preparation and planning is key in ensuring you make the most out of your Summer in the US. Here are our top J1 tips.
J1 Tips: How to get the best experience Stateside
The J1 is all fun and games until you find yourself completely broke and unable to join in with all the activities your mates are doing so SAVE SAVE SAVE! Bare in mind you will probably come home from your J1 in minus funds but while you are in the states, try your best to work hard and save as much money as you can. Even if it is just saving your tips every week, it will all add up. Then when it comes to the all-important traveling time, you will be comfortable and won’t have to make the dreaded phone call for an IOU from home. Remember when you get to America you will need to set up a new phone plan and deposit for accommodation and rent. Apply for your social security number as soon as possible as you can’t be paid until you have one and it can take weeks to get one. “The best piece of advice I would offer anyone going on a J1 this year is to save as much money as they can because it’s so worth it at the end when your travelling, you’re not held back because of too little funds and you can experience everything”, said 2017 J1er Roisin Kenny.
Planning your travel route in advance will seriously save on stress and money and you will be able to budget for your trips throughout the Summer. If you are planning on doing your travelling through flying, internal flights in the US are quite cheap but book in advance. Buses and trains are also a handy way of getting from A to B and the Greyhound coach runs across the country at very cheap rates, however remember you do have to pay for excess baggage on buses and trains. Check out wanderu.com for the best bus fares. Renting out a car is probably the most popular option for J1 students as long as you have a confident driver and bear in mind most companies won’t rent out a car to under 21s or unless you have a credit card. vroomvroomvroom.com is a great search engine for car hire in the states.
Americans are one of the most welcoming nationalities on the map and you will be surprised at how open and easy they are to make friends with on your J1. Make friends with the neighbours or Americans living in the frat houses because they know the area better than lonely planet or trip advisor do and the majority of Americans would only be delighted to show the Irish the coolest spots in town. Networking also comes in handy when you go traveling as staying with people works out a lot cheaper than Airbnbs or hotels.
Embrace American Life:
While on your J1, make sure to immerse yourself in the American way of life. Go see a baseball game, try out different sports, experience a frat party or try out specific American foods like their world-famous pancakes.
Do things that you wouldn’t get the opportunity to do in Ireland. Visit the national parks and famous walkways as they are like none other. 2017 J1er Caoimhe McManus says,
So many people go on J1s and never really even see America, don’t just stick to your own group of Irish friends from home, definitely make friends with people you work with or live with to get the real American experience.
Make sure to keep your passport and documents safe. Also have photocopies of everything and leave these photocopies in different places so if you lose one you will still have others.
Lost or stolen passports are a regular occurrence for J1 students so make sure to have another form of ID when going out at night to avoid the hassle of a lost passport. Make sure you have enough money on you at all times but have it in both cash and card forms.
Know the local laws and remember the cops in the US may not be as lenient as those at home. Public disorder offences (such as public drunkenness) are penalised much more severely in the US. Be alert and careful when walking anywhere on your own especially at night.
The J1 will be one of the best experiences of your life so enjoy every minute of it. Do things you have never done before and make the most of every opportunity you get.