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Myrtle Beach J1 Experience By Shanice

 

Read Shanice's blog about her J1 summer experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:

"Doing a J1 is like nothing else you will do in your lifetime. It can be the most exciting thing you do in your college years and an opportunity you most certainly do not want to pass up! It’s full of challenges, new friends, once in a lifetime experiences, of course some partying and most importantly unforgettable memories.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach might seem like an odd choice for a J1 and it wasn’t on the top of my list either, however the decision to go there was there was one of the best decisions I think I could have made. It is perfect- with great weather, the stunning beach and plenty of students looking to have the craic.

Myrtle Beach

Accommodation

When I got there, I had only arranged temporary accommodation for a week and was worried about finding somewhere to live. We knew people that were staying in a motel so we got a room there. A motel might not sound like much and it wasn’t, but the location and the people in the place were what made it! We had access to two pools, lived a minute's walk from the beach and just a 15 minutes cycle to work. What really made it for me though was the atmosphere; the motel was taken over by J1 students so there was a buzz around the place, with a pool party taking place every Sunday. There was also a boathouse a short drive away where a live band played every Sunday. This was a great place to meet people and get a chilled US festival vibe.

Employment:

I went as part of a group of eight people. Luckily we all managed to get jobs in the same place so we got to work together most of the time. We also worked with others who just happened to live in the motel with us. The job involved being a dock hand and working with jet boats in Broadway at the Beach which is where a lot of students got jobs. I also found a second job at Family Kingdom selling ice cream (not glamorous but it paid well and the people were really nice). I cannot emphasise how useful it is to join J1 Facebook groups for the location you are going. I got my second job through the group, general questions are answered by other students and you can find cheap second-hand bikes, accommodation and even potential roommates.

Myrtle Beach Sunrise

Things To Do:

Myrtle Beach was a fantastic place to live, with the beach practically on my doorstep! It is a popular holiday destination so there were always things taking place such as the Country Music Festival, weekly firework shows, volleyball games and live bands. There were plenty of water sports too, I would definitely recommend doing parasailing, it’s not cheap but well worth it!

The local baseball team, The Pelicans, have weekly matches so you should go ‘out to the ball game’ if you can. It’s one American experience you can’t miss, even if it just for the hotdogs. If you do go to Myrtle Beach, you have to check out Mammy Kitchen, their all you can eat buffet is a truly American breakfast feast and only costs $9. The Coffee House on the Boardwalk is another must, they are right on the beachfront and their coffee is better than Starbucks at half the price!

One piece of advice I would give is that you bring a rain jacket of some kind. I didn’t even consider the chance of rain before I went over, a rookie error on my part. America is prone to the odd thunderstorm so don’t make the same mistake I did and bring no jacket whatsoever.

Travelling

As much as I enjoyed my time in Myrtle Beach, I have to say my three weeks travelling at the end are what really made the experience for me. I got to experience the different types of American culture along the East Coast and cross a few things off my bucket list along the way.

Atlanta:

First stop was Atlanta- not a particularly popular city to go to- however, if you have a love for aquariums like I do then you have to check out the Georgia Aquarium! It has just lost its title of the world’s largest aquarium but you certainly won’t be disappointed! Atlanta is also where the 1996 Olympics were held so you can find lots of monuments and the Olympic Park from the games. Also if you are a football fan, you should definitely go to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Standing on the pitch was a surreal feeling; you don’t grasp how large the stadium is until you are standing on the field with thousands of seats surrounding you.

Orlando

Orlando:

Next stop was Orlando and was time to tick Universal off my bucket list! If you get the chance to go here you have to take it. It was pricey but well worth it. You can’t get the experience anywhere else, from the quirky buildings to the crazy rollercoasters and spectacular special effects, it’s amazing. It is like a whole city in itself. If, like me, you are a Harry Potter fan then you have to give this place a visit. I got to go to Diagon Alley, drink butter beer (the frozen one is nicer), see Hogsmeade, ride the Howarts Express and even see the interactive fountains where wands can move the water!

I also went to Busch Gardens, it was one of the best days I spent travelling! It’s like a zoo and theme park combined. It’s full of unique and quirky rollercoasters so if you like an adrenaline rush you’ll love it here!

Miami:

Miami is a great place to visit with plenty of things to do. While I was here I swam with Dolphins in the Miami Sea Aquarium- a fantastic experience and one I will never forget!  I also did a sky dive here, by far the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. The restaurants are amazing with food for everyone’s taste; I particularly like the Cuban food. If you’re looking to try something unique, go to the Fire and Ice bar in South Beach. The experience was like none I’ve ever encountered. You get a coat, gloves and shoes before entering the Ice Bar and inside everything is made of ice; the bar, the chairs, the walls and even the glasses! Another must do when in Florida is the everglades boat tours. Sadl,y when we went the alligators weren’t very eager to show themselves, but we still got to see the little ones in the nursery and I even got to hold one.

New York

New York:

Our final stop was New York and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a bit of a culture shock having been so chilled out in Miami. Of course I had seen pictures and heard stories about it from family and friends but nothing can prepare you for the sheer pace and buzz of the city. My group were very lucky as we had booked a hostel but got upgraded to a hotel right at Times Square.

We bought a New York city 3 day pass and spent our time doing all the tourist attractions; Empire State, Statue of Liberty, Big Bus Tour, Hudson Boat Cruise, Rockefeller Centre (the view is amazing at night) and of course we went to Times Square and Central Park

I had never been to an American football game and decided that we should experience it before heading back to Ireland. We went to a NY Jets v Cincinnati Bengals game and I have to say it was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. The atmosphere was amazing; you can really see just how important the game is in American culture with the fans supporting their teams more than I can say of any fans I have found in the Premiership. It’s a truly family affair with barbeques and tents pitched in the car parks, groups of entire families gathered to watch the game. The stadium was huge and despite knowing very little about the rules of the game I got the grasp of it fairly quickly and got really into it!

Finally we of course had to visit the outlets before heading home. We chose to go to Jersey Gardens and we not disappointed. If you are looking to do a spot of shopping, I’d highly recommend it.

Sadly after that our time was up and we had to head home to Ireland. For me, the J1 was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I got to meet amazing people, make some unforgettable memories and grow as a person. I don’t think you can come back from a J1 without developing, I know one guy certainly won’t (I had to teach him how to cook mince…yes, seriously).

If you are considering a J1, I would say do it! There’s always going to be excuses you’ll tell yourself why you shouldn’t do it but if you don’t take a leap of faith and do it you’ll regret it. It allows you to experience all America has to offer, you can thoroughly immerse yourself into the US lifestyle by working, living and socialising there while still having that bit of home with other students doing it with you."

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 J1, J1 Jobs: All You Need To Know.

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