Mairghréad’s J1 Summer in Chicago

Mairghréad has always wanted to have that summer of a lifetime from watching her cousins and siblings go on a J1 Visa and last year she finally decided it was time to live her dream! Here’s her USIT J1 Visa experience. 

Getting J1 Ready

Going on a J1 was always something I really wanted to do from a young age, from watching my older cousins and older siblings going, I knew it was always something I wanted to do. Last year I got the opportunity to go, at first I was apprehensive about what to expect but looking back now I knew I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I spent three months in Chicago and I absolutely loved it. Before going on a J1 you have to ensure you have a job secured and approved by your sponsor. Before leaving for Chicago we had accommodation got. Some people got accommodation before they go out and some people do it once there over there. Before going over, we weren’t sure if the accommodation was legit or not as we had heard many stories about people being scammed in the past.

Choosing the Right Accommodation…

Fortunately, the accommodation worked out perfectly. We stayed in a three-bedroom apartment and there were around twelve girls living with us. We lived a three-minute walk from the train station and about a thirty-five-minute train journey into the city to work. I would recommend finding accommodation close to public transport for getting to and from work etc. During the week you will have a few days working and a few days off, on our days off we tried to make the most of it and explore the city around us. Each day we would plan to do a different activity from cycling the North Lakeshore drive to visiting museums, going to see the bean, going to a cub or a bears game or just lying on the Beach at North Avenue.

So Much to Do, So Much to See!

There’s always so much to see and do on your days off. The best thing about the J1 for me was meeting all the different Irish people over there, it felt like we were a community. It was very easy to get to know people along the way through work, nights out and through meeting more people through your friends. The nights out on J1’s are excellent, every few days a different event and venue would be announced. The nights out were also a great way to meet up with your friends who you weren’t living with or your friends from work. Another great aspect of the USIT J1 Visa is the 30 day travel period after you finish working. We thought about going to the East coast before leaving for Chicago but when we were over there we decided we’d prefer to go traveling the West Coast.

Exploring the West Coast

People travel all over America and go on different road trips to all different states. We flew to San Francisco and stayed there in a hostel for two nights, we then got a bus to LA and stayed in an apartment near Venice beach, after that we went to Las Vegas and New York before going home at the end of August. I really enjoyed the travel period; it was a great way to see different parts of America with your friends. Before going traveling we tried to save as much money as we could from work so we could see and do more.

Just Do It!

I would most definitely recommend to anyone who’s considering going on a J1 to just do it, it’s a great experience; you get to experience a different working environment and you have the chance to live with your friends for the summer. You also get a taste for the American culture and to explore different states and tourist attractions when your there.

Mairghréad had an amazing time on her J1 in Chicago! Thinking about going on a J1? Head to our website now to see all the options we have for you.

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