So it’s official, I’m going to America this summer on a J1 and flying off to California for 3 months!
For once, I’m not stranded in Ireland for another summer but it still hasn’t quite hit me yet, maybe it will finally sink in when I step off the plane and the hot Californian sun hits my face.
When my best friend asked me would I like to go to California on a J1 with him and a few of his mates from college a couple of months ago, I couldn’t say no. From the onset, it all seemed a bit daunting. We had no clue of the visa process and very little money, if any, to fund this trip but after a while of researching, I got pretty excited about the whole thing and everything seemed to fall into place from then onwards. I thought I had to take out a loan from the bank but surprisingly my parents offered to lend me the money instead, which was a big relief. I was invited to join a WhatsApp group online with everyone who was supposedly going on the J1, which made communicating about the whole trip much easier, as everyone knew what everyone else was doing from the start.
CHOOSING THE LOCATION
For choosing the location in California, we decided to go for Berkeley as someone said one of their friends went there before and it was absolutely amazing! Apparently, Berkeley is a student location with a University situated there and in the summertime, lots of students from around the world love to visit here. Luckily, the job that I was offered is based in Brisbane (South San Francisco) which is not far from Berkley, it’s only about an hour’s train journey. I probably would have chosen California as the destination anyway I think, as it has always been a dream of mine to go there! I’m looking forward to exploring this part of America very much and I hope to do & see all I can in my spare time.
FLIGHTS & ACCOMMODATION
Flights to the West Coast can be very expensive; they’re around 800/900 euro. I haven’t booked them yet but I hope to do so as soon as possible. I also haven’t secured accommodation either and as of now, I reckon finding accommodation will be fairly difficult as I’ve heard many people are having trouble with it. I plan to stay in a hostel for the first week or two until I can ask the locals about the best places to stay and hopefully get sorted with a house or flat.
WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
What I’m definitely looking forward to is the cultural aspect of the experience and just meeting different types of people from around the world. I can’t wait for the non-stop sunshine all summer long but it’s going to be a test on my Irish skin for sure! I’ve never had the opportunity before, to just explore a new place for myself, new surroundings & constantly having places to go will be a treat for me and of course above all else, not spending my summer subjected to the relentless Irish weather again!
CHALLENGES OVER THERE
The main challenges for me over there will be adapting to city lifestyle as I’ve lived in a quiet town for most of my life. I even think Dublin is too busy but it’s going to be nothing compared to a place like San Francisco! Another challenge for me will be getting around on my own but I’ll be fine once I have internet and Google Maps to help me out! Hopefully, meeting new people won’t be a problem, as I’d like to meet as many people as possible. I’d like to make friends and meet the locals, maybe the fact that I’m Irish will be a bonus in that regard!
WHY THE USA?
I picked the USA because of the difference in culture and infrastructure compared to Ireland and I picked California because of the forward thinking people and constant sunshine. I’d like to live away from home for a good length of time to see how I can handle being on my own and away from my family. I also want to have an amazing experience with my friend. Now that we’re both 21 years old, we can get up to all kinds of shenanigans over there!
At the moment, I’m really excited about heading away and spending my summer in the States and I’m also going with my best friend which is an added bonus. I cannot wait for the crazy new experiences we’re going to have and the stories we’ll be coming back with. It’s going to be a summer to remember!