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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 28 February, 2020
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Column: 6 top tips for stress-free J1 summer in the sun

Make the most of your American summer without falling foul of local laws or customs.

Sean Dunne

WITH SUMMER 2014 fast approaching, one thing on the minds of thousands of Irish college students is the prospect of living the ‘American dream’ as the J1 summer in the sun season kicks off.

Here are some tips for those heading Stateside …

1. Accommodation

Undoubtedly one of the hardest aspects about arriving in America for the summer is finding a landlord willing to sign off a lease to a bunch of carefree 20-something year olds so start doing the groundwork now and start searching Craigslist. San Francisco in particular can be difficult and my best advice for students is to start looking into living in Berkeley for the summer. It’s a short Bart ride from the city and many J1ers are commuters for the summer.

Get the exact address and as many contact details as possible for the person you are dealing with.

2. Internet scams

When looking for your J1 pad, be extremely careful of any person who asks you to pay money up front online. My advice is not to wire money unless you are 100 per cent certain it’s a legitimate deal as so many past J1 students have been at the loss of thousands of dollars. Here in New York, Executive Director of the Aisling Irish Community Center, Orla Kelleher has warned students to strongly reconsider New York as a J1 destination.

We have tried to prepare J1 summer students as best we can over the past few months through our website, Facebook posts and our J1 summer student guide in advance of their trip to the US. Seasonal work and short term accommodation is difficult to secure around here in New York, so we would encourage J1 students to consider other locations throughout the US where seasonal work and accommodation is plentiful.

3. Finding a job

Don’t be fooled by the myth that you won’t find work Stateside. There are lots of summer jobs available in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and any other J1 destination you can think of. It’s about having the right attitude and a good sense of Irish charm. My advice for San Francisco is hit the ground running and head down Fisherman’s Wharf where you can head into any of the restaurants and the Aquarium is a great place for summer employment. New York can be more difficult but start researching Irish bar work; it’s busy tourist season so employers are willing to hire.

4. Living on a budget

Make sure you bring enough money to live off for when you first arrive, normally a few thousand dollars. Take into consideration most landlords will require a full month’s rent and deposit up front. It can take a few week’s to set up a social security number and many American employers won’t pay until they have this for tax purposes

5. Alcohol and fake ID

Every J1 summer is filled with frat parties and road trips to Las Vegas, and it’s an excellent experience. One of the worst things about the J1 experience is alcohol-fuelled parties that get out of control. Any seasoned J1er will testify to witnessing them and participating – but it’s important to remember it’s not Ireland and there is very little tolerance to the Irish antics when it comes down to the law.

Do not tamper with your passport or someone else’s passport in an attempt to get around the US legal drinking age of 21or to gain entry to over 21 bars and clubs. Falsifying passports is a federal offence.

Be safe and look out for your friends. Never think it’s acceptable to let them get a taxi home alone drunk or to walk. It’s a different country and you need to be aware of your surroundings.

6. Have fun

The American summer is a standout moment for any student venturing over, so soak up the culture and be sure to check out the Irish Immigration Pastoral centres, which are great for hosting welcome events and a great resource for young Irish revellers.

My last piece of advice is to think smart, be confident and remember … what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

Sean Dunne is the multimedia reporter and editorial assistant for IrishCenral and The Irish Voice newspaper based in New York. He moved to New York in 2013 having graduated from NUI Galway with an MA in Journalism. He worked across a wide spectrum of print, online and broadcast journalism in Ireland, including RTÉ, TV3 and Newstalk. You can follow him on Twitter @SeandunneNYC

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