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Cian's J1 experience in Ocean City

Read Cian's blog about his J1 summer experience in Ocean City, Maryland:

I decided to go on my J1 based off the recommendations of people from home who had gone in the past. After multiple ‘pub talks’ about going, we finally decided to stop just talking about it and go ahead and do it. Because we knew we would regret it if we didn’t take this opportunity. A group of 4 of us had originally decided to go, but ended up splitting in to two groups of two because we wanted to go to the east coast while the others went to the west coast. We quickly began saving as much money as possible and working extra hours to make sure that we would have enough money to ensure it was a summer to remember.

I travelled to a few different locations on the east coast of the US, so I was able to soak up a lot of the culture while I was there. In such a big country it is important to remember that there is huge diversity between each state and so I felt it was important to try to immerse myself in as much as possible.

Two of us decided quite early that we would travel to Montauk in Long Island, mostly because my brother had been there a few years before me and had nothing but good things to say about it. We got a flight in to JFK in New York and spent two nights with family I had in Queens, so that we could do some sightseeing in the city before we headed out to Long Island. I had been to New York City several times before, but the place still amazed me with how exciting and busy it is the minute you walk up the steps from Penn station on to the main avenues.

We didn’t plan out the day around the city, we just decided to walk around as much as possible to explore the city- which is something I would advise anyone who is visiting to do because you stumble upon the best things when you aren’t looking for them. For anyone going to NYC, even just for a day visit, bring some extra cash because you will end up shopping... it is impossible not to and there are shops for absolutely everything.

From there we moved on to Montauk, we didn’t have accommodation sorted – we would eventually regret this – so we booked a motel to stay in for a while until we got sorted. The owner of the motel was extremely nice and loaned us bikes while we stayed so that we could cycle around the town to look for accommodation and set up our bank accounts.

We ended up meeting another group from Ireland on the second day so we joined them in looking for accommodation. Montauk was extremely chilled and the beach was walking distance from the town, so it was very handy. It is a wealthy area and many of the people who are there are city families who come out for the summer, which meant that tips were fantastic. There are loads of restaurants and fish shops in the area despite it being small, and the locals are very welcoming to J1ers. It is also very easy to meet other J1 students because it is such a small place. Being open to meeting new people and get out of your comfort zone is one of the best pieces of advice I could give to anyone going on a J1.

Unfortunately we were unable to find accommodation in Montauk, but this was not going to deter us and we saw it as an opportunity to move on to a new location. We decided as a group to travel to Ocean City, after contacting some people who had already gotten settled there. They told us that accommodation and jobs were easier to find. The group we met rented a car for the journey down. I travelled back in to the city to meet family and arranged to meet up with them again in a few days. I got the Greyhound bus from the Port Authority in NYC to Ocean City, which was only a couple of hours, I happened to meet a bunch of J1 students on the bus and we got a taxi in to the town- turns out they were actually staying in the apartment directly below me.

Ocean City was amazing, as the boardwalk has tons of shops and activities on it- as well as funfair at the end which you could honestly spend hours at. The beach was constantly full of activities from sandcastle sculpting to beach soccer and volleyball, as well as plenty of room for sunning yourself. House parties were in abundance as there were groups of Irish scattered all over the place. I was lucky to go on my J1 in the same year that the World Cup was on, which added an extra buzz around the place as the United States impressed during the tournament.

For my job I worked as a waiter/ bartender at a local bar on the boardwalk. There were two other J1ers working with me which was nice and it meant that there was a fun atmosphere around when we were working. Customers were always friendly and though the tips weren't massive we still got a good amount during busy nights although you really worked for them as it could get very busy. Overall it was a pleasant job to have for the summer as the regular staff were welcoming and made us feel like part of the group. It really made you gain appreciation for tipping staff while in th US.

For the end of the trip I spent another bit of time in New York City just relaxing and shopping before my return home. Another snippet of advice when visiting the US, especially the larger cities, is to keep your eyes peeled for celebrities because you are almost guaranteed to see at least one – I just happened to walk passed Henry Cavill (Superman) walking down the street one day. J1s are extremely fun and a great experience but do remember that it can take time to settle in and you may have the odd moment of homesickness but this is normal and home is always a phone call away.

Read more blogs: Julianne's San Diego J1 ExperienceMike's Chicago J1 Experience5 Tips For Making The Most Of Your J1 Experience5 Useful Mobile Apps You'll Need On Your J1J1 Jobs: All You Need To Know, Myrtle Beach J1 ExperienceMark's J1 Summer Of Sport In Chicago.

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