• Éadaoin Fitzmaurice

Thinking of doing a J1? Here's ALL The Deets

Writing this post, my name really does live up to my current feeling - éad, meaning jealousy in English.

So you've made it. All those months of waiting have finally come to an end. Though I may be extremely envious, I do wish for you to have as amazing a summer as I did. Here are some nuggets of advice for when you land onto your new turf.

Top tips for when you ARRIVE on your J1:

(1) Make a checklist of everything you need to sort out:

The paperwork does not end yet my friends. Making a checklist of everything that you need to sort out will ensure you get it all done in the first week or so.

Make sure to set up a bank account and to get your social security card. Without these, payment could be delayed and you could end up being a broke bitch.

Do it now! Do it while your hours are still easy going and before your hangovers become your daily morning routine.

(2) Find out what facilities are in your area for J1'ers:

I did my J1 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There was a church a few doors down from my accommodation that helped J1 students during the summer. They helped us set up our bank accounts and sort out getting our social security cards.

They also provided free meals for students Monday-Wednesday, which was beyond a dream for us as we were saving dollahz for travelling. As well, they rented bikes to students for the summer. We cycled everywhere during our J1 and it was so great not having to pay for a brand new bike.

There was also a student centre in Myrtle Beach, which served roughly the same purpose. They provided bikes for students and also had a wealth of knowledge and advice for J1 students. I once burst a hole in my tyre and they fixed it right away.

It is services and facilities like this that keep you safe, in the know and looked after during your stay.

(3) Take some time to get a feel of the area:

Walk around the area with your friends the first day or two of your arrival. This may seem obvious but it really is essential to be aware of your surroundings.

Some streets should never be walked down. Also, let's be real, you are going to want to go hard on the sesh on the first few days of your arrival, walking home drunk is not the best idea if you have no clue where you are going.

(4) Take time to take it all in:

Living in a different country for the next few months can seem overwhelming at times. Your home comforts are non-existent and you have very little personal space. It is 100% ok to need some time to adapt to the change in lifestyle, and remember everyone is different.

In my situation, I love being around people so I rarely felt uncomfortable. However, there were people in my group who sometimes needed to take some space. Be sure to respect that and to be there for them if they are feeling homesick.

Though I love being around people, I did take some time to myself everyday and I really did enjoy that. I used to get up every morning and listen to music by the pool. This really relaxed me and prepared me for the manic day ahead.

During my first week I also took a long walk by myself. I did this mainly to take pictures and to see the boardwalk, but it was a great way to take some time to think to myself and enjoy my surroundings.

(5) Get to know the locals:

Your first few weeks are the perfect time to make new friends, obviously. However it is so easy to fall into the trap of "bubbling."

Bubbling is a term I like to use to describe groups clumping together. You are going to spend a lot of time with other Irish people, and don't get me wrong that is great craic. But don't forget that you are in AMERICA! You can see pasty Irish folk everyday of the week back home. Take this chance to mix with the locals, hey, you might get invited to some cool American house parties, what's not to like!

We made some great American friends on our J1 and it really added to the experience. They brought us to a house party, to their favourite restaurants and gave us lifts the odd time we were stuck.

(6) Don't blow your dosh:

Probably one of our biggest mistakes. When we got to Myrtle Beach we were just SO bloody excited. We went out for lunch nearly every second day, we were buying shit we didn't need. We just weren't thinking ahead and for the amount of travelling we did, we really should have been from day one.

Of course it is so important to enjoy yourself and to do activities in your area, but we were just a little excessive the first few weeks.

(7) Enjoy every bloody minute:

I can't explain to you how amazing your summer is going to be. I am so so SO jealous.

Be sure to appreciate every moment, don't waste time and energy on drama or silly things. Take as many pictures and videos as your heart desires. They are so great to have and to look back on when you come home.

If you have any questions regarding the J1, get in contact with me, I am always happy to help.

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