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Tracy's J1 In Ocean City, Maryland

Tracy gives her advice for going on a J1 Summer to Ocean City, Maryland:

When you start college the J1 is the first thing you start dreaming about. It’s almost like a rite of passage that you get such an amazing opportunity. I saw people in the year ahead’s photos and just knew I had to go, I had to have that experience. I was sick of the routine of working in my part time which would have ended up being full time for summer. If I was going to work full time why not do it in America? I wanted a change of scenery and to make new memories with new people. I wanted to broaden my horizons and push myself past my comfort zone.

I did my J1 in Ocean City, Maryland- or as I like to call it, my second home. It was easier to get jobs in the East Coast. Originally we were going to go to San Diego, but being unable to secure jobs left us looking to the East Coast- and it was the best thing that ever could have happened to us. We knew people who went the previous year and loved it and they had told us how helpful the Irish outreach were. Knowing there was a support network there for us if we ever needed them gave us peace of mind, and the outreach was amazing. We got duvets, pillows, kettles, pans and cleaning supplies from them for free. We'd have been lost without their help. 

I worked in Jolly Roger Amusement Park and all I can say is- do whatever you can to go to Ocean City and work for this company! It is both an amusement and a water park. I worked in the guest service office there and I had the time of my life. I made the best friends from all over the world. My daily tasks varied from answering questions to people in person and on the phone, selling tickets, dealing with complainants and compliments. A perk of the job is you get free entry into all the parks and get two friends in for free also.

We went to Ocean City without having a place to stay sorted which was terrifying, but it was the making of our summer. We booked to stay in a hostel for 3 days. When we got there we just got out looking straight away and it took us 4 days to secure a place to stay. We stayed in the best place possible, right off the beach and on the boardwalk. We found the landlord's number online and rang him, then met with him and put down our deposit immediately. There were 12 in my house, we met as strangers and left as a family. 

Bring sun cream and more of it and more of it, because you will get the worst burns of your life. We had a competition going in our house to see who would come out the most tanned by the end. It ended up with dangerous burns and such dodgy tan lines and very uncomfortable sleeps. On the topic of sleeping, don’t be fooled by how extravagant I made the J1 sound- 12 of us lived in a 3-bedroom shoe box, 4 of us shared beds and we had one bathroom but it’s all part of the experience.  You will- and I promise you- will end living on ramen noodles, Cheetos and dry cereal because nobody will buy milk and risk it being drank by someone else.

Also, AMERICANS LOVE THE IRISH! You will come home loving your country in a way you did not know was possible. The Americans love the accent and the culture, and your Irish will improve massively when you want to discuss annoying customers in front of them.

Being away from home for such a long time and living away from my parents was not easy, but it changed me for the better. Naturally I missed home and my family, but I was just so happy there. A beach, the sun, an amazing job and making new memories. When I wasn’t working I went to baseball games, concerts, beach parties, bonfires and on trips to different states. The beach was a stone's throw away, so I spent 90% of my time there. I also went to my workplace a lot when I was off, because a perk of the job is free entry to the park.

I saved up enough money to go travelling for 4 weeks at the end of my J1. I went to Washington, New York, California, Nevada and Arizona. I experienced so many different American cultures and got to go to places I will never forget. This includes famous places & landmarks like Niagara Falls, the Statue Of Liberty, Potato Chip Rock, Pacific Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge, Grand Canyon and so so so many more.  

If you are between two minds about your J1 please please please do it. I will never be able to express it in words how amazing my J1 experience was. I have made incredible memories that I will never forget, and I have made lifelong friends. In fact, a girl I worked with who is from Maryland is coming to Ireland in December and living with me while she’s here. At the beginning, I was scared committing to an entire summer in a different country, but I have grown so much as a person. I gained independence, confidence and life lessons I would not have learnt by spending my summer in Cork.  

Read more blogs: Cara's Ocean City Summer, Rebecca's New York J1 ExperienceKate's Boston J1 Summer, 5 Tips For Getting The Most From Your J1 Experience, Julianne's San Diego J1 Experience.

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