Organising your J1:
Who to book with:
When it comes to booking your J1 there are three sites to choose from : Sayit, Usit and Go4Less. I would recommend Sayit as I booked with them last year and I found each step of the booking easy to follow and they are helpful to answer any queries you may have. After some research I found that Sayit is the cheapest site to book with out of the three regarding the embassy fee, visa and flights etc.
Where to go:
It’s difficult to decide whether you want to spend your summer on the East or West coast. On the East coast the popular destinations tend to be: New York, Chicago, Boston, Ocean City, Myrtle Beach, Montauk, Cape Cod and New Port. On the West Coast in California the hot spots include: San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Huntington Beach and Long beach. Each of these destinations are bound to be fantastic and you will see so much and meet so many new people no matter where you go. I went to California last summer so will be biased towards the West coast and would highly recommend it due to the sunny weather, laid back lifestyle, friendly people, the number of Irish and the amount of things to see and do.
This can be difficult to organise but you should try and have it sorted before you go. Get in touch with anyone you know who has been before and get contacts! Alternatively use the links on the J1 website and research accommodation on craigslist and student accommodation on college campus. Be careful when paying a deposit and instalments as some landlords can rip you off and may be a scam. There will be a certain number of tenants allowed per house but I advise you to pack as many people in as possible and invest in some blow up mattresses. This will make the rent cheaper and make it a fun filled summer but be aware if you are a neat-freak, things will get messy, dirty and lost. We found mattress on the streets which became our beds for the summer, yes unhygienic but so resourceful.
Again, if you have any contacts, use them! Look up the area you’re going and e-mail as many places as possible explaining you need to secure a job before you go to avoid them telling you to come to an interview in San Francisco the following week. You can try and Skype call companies if there is no e-mail address as it is both efficient and cheap. Google map your potential accommodation and potential job location before you go to make sure they are not too far away from each other to avoid a long commute. Looking up companies on Craigslist, Instagram and Facebook.
Booking your flight:
You will not have access to book your flight until you have secured your job so try and organise one ASAP. Once you are able to book your flight have a browse around for the cheapest dates to fly and connecting flights will always be cheaper. I flew to London and then on to Los Angeles where I then got a transfer to Santa Barbara. Be careful of the time you have between the connecting flights as if there is a delay on your first one it is a hassle trying to book another one. Also it takes time at border control as you will be questioned on where you’re going and for how long etc. so leave yourself plenty of time!
Thumbnail by John Silliman
Photo by Averie Woodard