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Chicago – A Summer on the Southside – Sean McCormack

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“A Summer on the Southside”.

Sean McCormack


If I’m honest with myself and with the gift of hindsight, a J1 summer in the USA always seemed a distant unreachable dream. Amidst the hustle and bustle of my final year in university, the J1 was a happy after-thought as the reality of multiple deadlines and ever looming exams cast a shadow over my final days as an undergraduate. I had heard many great things about Chicago and done a fair share of research. I had thought it over and with my girlfriend and friends, talked about it a million times, but I knew in my heart that the experience of spending the summer in America would be all kinds of different to what I had imagined. And it was.

Having gone through the J1 application process, it came to long discussions about budgeting, where to live and where to travel following our stay in Chicago. My initial thoughts after some lengthy research were “this is going to be expensive”, particularly if we all wanted to live together. My college pals had gone out before my girlfriend and I because I needed to stay and watch my younger brother play in the Kennedy Cup inter-county soccer tournament. The boys had gone with the aim of finding us all a place to live in Chicago that provided sound living conditions, cheap rent, safety and a place that wasn’t a million miles from “everything”. Despite their efforts, most didn’t want to let to college students, didn’t do short term rental or were complete scammers! Any places that did accept J1’ers were fully booked up or just too damn expensive. Anyone who has been on a J1 to Chicago will tell you Wicker Park, Wrigleyville, Logan Square or Evanston. And although these are nice areas with lots to offer, many of our fears were later confirmed when we heard stories of several people sleeping on floors in single rooms and hordes of people being cramped into small apartments or houses. And rents still weren’t that cheap! With two days until our arrival and our friends still held up in a hostel in Damen, things weren’t looking good, that is until we found J1Accom Chicago, which in truth set the stage for one of the best summers of my life.

Having spent a summer in Chicago it is easy to see why it is one of America’s most favourite cities. The Windy City is a treasure chest of modernity, futuristic excitement and fuels the imagination! The food, the sights and the sounds, Chicago has it all. Downtown is elegantly dotted with a century’s worth of towers and spires but also pays homage to great modern architectural marvels such as Willis and Trump tower. The Loop is a daily jostle of people from all walks of life and the thrill of riding the CTA elevated trains to almost anywhere in the city is something I have never experienced in any other place. The various theatres downtown and just the general feel of the place make the everyday seem like a movie scene. One thing that must be said is that there is always something to do or see in the city. If you like shopping there’s the Magnificent Mile and in terms of food that isn’t very expensive, Chicago’s famous pizza joints do more than satisfy. The river walk along the banks of the Chicago River is epic and even better, you can kayak it if you are brave enough to find yourself amidst the numerous tour boats zooming up and down the river. A cycle or a walk to Navy Pier and along the shore of the beautiful Lake Michigan to feed the geese are a must. Bikes are easily rented all over the city using a mobile app and can be retrieved and dropped off almost anywhere. Millennium Park is home to an open-air theatre which must be seen to be appreciated and has orchestras or open-air movie nights regularly. Lincoln Park hosts one of the most wonderful zoos I have ever visited, and my mind was blown when I realised it’s free entry! There are also numerous beautiful beaches around the city, my favourite being North Avenue, which also offers jet skis, paddle boarding and is swimmer friendly! The city is rich in history and there are loads of museums that pay homage to this, my favourite being the MSI. The Shedd Aquarium and the Planetarium are also worth a visit. The nightlife is terrific yet unpretentious with numerous clubs, late night bars and roof top bars spread throughout the city, my favourite being London House. If you are a sports fan, all of Chicago’s teams play in the city and are all roughly within 15 mins of the loop. The city is culturally very rich and hosts several festivals in the summer, perhaps most notably Lollapalooza. The streets are so clean and Chicagoans so modest. Everyone wants to know what Ireland is like and everyone has plans to come here someday if they already haven’t.



Looking back on the whole Chicago experience, I cannot stress enough the importance of the accommodation. Hostels are a good short-term solution but as my pals found out, they can eat through your money! To have a base of operation so to speak, is a key platform for any J1 to live up to the hype. It is hard to not to sound bias, but J1Accom Chicago provided so much to us as a group in comparison to what other places had to offer, and with no hidden surprises. The J1Accom building itself sat right in the middle of the IIT Chicago campus, literally a 50-yard walk from the nearest CTA station of 35th Bronzeville IIT, which itself was only a ten-minute ride from downtown Chicago. CTA buses also ran outside the door straight to the city centre and Navy Pier. Not only was it located in the middle of a modern college campus with loads of amenities, the building that housed us J1er’s was modern, comfortable and provided superior living conditions.

Our group got to live in the same apartment, each with our own bedrooms which had storage for our things and could be locked for safety. The apartment had a shared bathroom and a kitchen which came in handy when trying to save money as we cooked our own food from the nearby supermarket. There were washing machines and driers on every floor for use by everyone which was very helpful as it made laundry less of a task. The wi-fi was super quick and there was loads of common areas to chill out with tv’s, a pool table and ping-pong tables. The whole security of the building itself was second to none as key cards were used to gain access to get inside and again to get into our apartments and bedrooms. Not only this but the front desk of the J1Accom building was manned all night and campus security patrolled the area 24/7. Moreover, the buzz around the building was top class as over 100 Irish J1’ers from all over Ireland mingled, partied and hung out together. Everyone was so friendly and there was always someone to go do something with or just hang out on the roof-top deck and chill with in the sun. Groups were heading out for pints in town every night so all we had to do was pick nights of convenience, especially when work was early the next day! Most importantly the accommodation was value for money at the price, considering all the facilities! You can easily pay the rent online too with no worries. A deposit of €150 didn’t break the bank either and was sent back to us as soon as we left. Paul and Brian were great to keep everyone updated on what was going on in terms of nightlife and what was happening around the campus. I must hand it to them, they never saw anyone left out and were great to invite people along on nights out and even organised trips to the nearby White Sox stadium to see a ball game for everyone in the building. The lads even ran a fantastic competition to give J1 residents the chance to win Lollapalooza tickets. They were also very accommodating when it came to my brother coming to stay with us for a few weeks. For me it was the little things that put J1Accom above all other lodgings. For example, one morning our toilet was on the fritz, so I informed the lads about it and within an hour or, so they had organised an engineer to come up and fix it. It’s something so small when you consider others were sleeping on the floor in rooms wedged with people in other parts of the city, but I must say the lads were always so helpful, informative and most importantly approachable. It was a bonus to get to work with my friends every day and after a tough day or night at work it was always so reassuring to know that we had a place to call home that we could easily get back to on the CTA and were safe, comfortable and happy in.

The end of our trip saw us travel to Las Vegas, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco with a pit stop in Denver along the way. These places were also unforgettable as one could imagine but if I am honest it is the time and the craic I had in Chicago that I will remember most. The J1 turned out to be everything I thought it would be and more. It shaped my outlook on life if I am honest and fuelled my sense of adventure. It taught me about the vast world that exists beyond the realms of my small home town in Cork. It was also a privilege to meet so many interesting characters not only in my time at J1Accom, but also in my work as a banquet server. I worked at and visited places that I could never have honestly imagined. Meeting people from all walks of life each day made me appreciate other cultures and ways of living but also made me proud to be Irish. Being away from home for so long helped me grow as a person and depending on myself taught me more about the way the world works. It might not be for everyone, but I guess you will never know until you try. It was the best decision I ever made and now I have the travel bug so hopefully I can make it back to the states next summer again for a visit.

My advice to anyone would be to get a group or a few friends together and just go for it. Life is to short not to and I can guarantee it will be an adventure to remember. I would also take advantage of the J1Accom pre-booking system and have a place for yourself and your friends before going out to Chicago as it takes a lot of pressure off once you get there. Trust me you will not be disappointed! Starting a job immediately can be nerve wrecking and looking for accommodation at the same time while living out of a suitcase full of your worn clothes is not a nice experience! Take advantage of what is a real community vibe! I can safely say with J1Accom, what you see is what you get, a top class living space for the summer of a life time. Living with other Irish people made me more at ease and it was easier to have the craic. The J1Accom experience not only made living in Chicago a wonderful experience, but also allowed me to make lifelong memories and lots of new friends!


Sean McCormack

Chicago – Booking J1Accom made our summer in Chicago – Patrick Ryan

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Booking J1Accom made our summer in Chicago.

Patrick Ryan


A common problem that almost every J1 student suffers year after year, is waiting to arrive at their chosen destination before looking for accommodation. The problem with this, especially in Chicago is that accommodation is extremely difficult to come across. With J1Accom.Com, you can have accommodation sorted before you even leave Dublin Airport. I myself chose to wait and was on the verge of homelessness, running out of money etc. Simply to the low supply of accommodation and I decided to bite the bullet and go to the J1Accom.com accommodation, it was the best decision I made.

J1Accom is home to around 100 other Irish students, making it a home away from home. Where you will have your own room, kitchen, common area etc. Unlike vast amounts of students cramming into one-bedroom apartments across the city, living in horrible discomfort for the summer.

J1Accom is in a prime location in the city, on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology, a 10 minute journey from downtown Chicago, and less than 2 minutes of a walk to the CTA Green-Line station at 35th-Bronzeville-IIT.

As mentioned before, there is a homely feel to J1Accom due to the large number of Irish students. And as always the case with the Irish, a good sesh is a common occurrence!! As well as the Irish vibe, there is plenty of amenities across the area of IIT, like going to the college gym, basketball and tennis courts, Astroturf football, and just a 5 minute walk from Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.



Another bonus to staying with J1Accom, is that you can start work immediately after you arrive in Chicago, and earn money from the get go.

And finally, one of the big reasons for staying in j1Accom, is that you will make great friends that you will remain in touch with long after you arrive home.

If I was to recommend one thing for any J1 student headed to Chicago over the summer of 2019, it would be to go to J1Accom for your summer accommodation. It really is the foundation of a great summer and will really set you up for the best summer of your life.

Chicago – Chica-GO with J1Accom – Laura Fahy

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Chica-GO with J1Accom!


By Laura Fahy

I’ve procrastinated writing about my summer in ‘Chi-town’ since my return from the states. The reason for this is twofold; firstly, because putting such an incredible experience into words is no easy feat and secondly, because writing this means writing in the past tense, hence the crushing consolidation of the fact that the experience has ended (cue the melancholic memories and small violins). Alas, I’ll solider on for the greater good of you folks reading this and wondering if Chicago is the place for you or if J1Accom should be your home for the summer. The answer to both is yes, don’t believe me? Read my story and I assure you, you will.

At twenty-two I felt that as college ended, I needed to do something to celebrate my survival. What better way than to the leave the country in search of dodgy tan lines, ‘Fourloco’ induced paralysis and the perfect pictures I’d seen friends post on social media platforms in previous years. Truth be told, Chicago hadn’t been on my ‘hit list’ of cities (poor choice of words- sorry Trump). That was until Paul planted the seed and within a few weeks, the flights were booked, the bags were packed and the legs were waxed (mine, not Paul’s). Cue a wonderful ‘Wow Air’ stopover with my friends (side note; pay the money and go with literally anyone else!) and it was only then that panic hit me; ‘would I like it?’ ‘What if our accommodation is overcrowded? My vision of the American dream stemmed predominantly from sitcoms and films and so, I expected the reality of American life to be true to this portrayal. When we touched down in O’Hare airport, my worries were quelled as the glorious grid of Chicago’s cityscape greeted us. Next problem, where in God’s name had we signed up to live?

No amount of research on the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in the south of Chicago could possibly have prepared us for the building that our Uber driver delivered us to. Every inch of the SSV building screamed sleek, spacious and student-friendly. The biggest attraction being the layout of the individual two and three person apartments complete with single rooms, kitchen, living area and bathrooms along with twin sinks, ideal for slapping on makeup to cover sunburnt skin before jumping in an Uber to Joe’s. Being somewhat older than some J1ers, there was no way I would have survived the summer sleeping on a mattress with ten plus others- life is too short for that people! Impressed as we were with the apartments, the pies de résistance lay ahead as we reached the fifth floor; the sky deck- a spot soon to become our safe haven in a hectic city. Blinding sun, loungers dotted along the decking and in the distance -the skyline of Chicago; a concrete jungle waiting to be concurred.



In the following days, we discovered that the buildings location was frequently serviced by CTA transport in the form of the red and green line ‘L’ trains and the CTA buses right outside the building bringing you to North Avenue beach which has great bar called Castaways and Navy Pier (go to both-thank me later). Aside from making the city centre readily accessible to us, it also saved us a fortune that would have been spent on Ubers to work and nights out.

While I wanted to explore and see Chicago, part of me always knew that I would experience some sort of homesickness and if you think that you’re immune to it my friends, then you’re mistaken. The best thing about J1 accom for me wasn’t the city of Chicago, the drunken nights, the days at the beach or the freedom of foreign travel, it was the group of people I would never have met if I hadn’t opted to stay with J1Accom. The group of people that came to be my J1 family. From day one, no matter who arrived in the building, instant and intense bonds were formed on the aforementioned sky deck, be it a person who opted to go solo for the summer or with friends. These people made Chicago my ‘home away from home’ in every way possible. From tough days at work, a need for home comforts or a hangover to sooth (7-eleven pizza does the job and it’s on campus) I was never short of someone to come to. At the head of our family were our ‘co-dads’-the CEO (Paul) and VP (Brian G). It was extremely evident from day one that J1Accom was more than just business for the Cork boys as any problems we had were readily resolved, personal or otherwise. We still meet up and reminisce over our carefree Chi-town days and that alone speaks volumes.

I could write all day about my experiences but what’s the point? Go see it for yourself, go have the summer of a lifetime, go and meet your own J1 family,

Chica-GO with J1Accom.

Chicago – How It Went Down in Chi-Town – Harriet Bejeryd

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How It Went Down in Chi-Town Harriet Bejeryd


I started 2018 thinking a J1 wouldn’t be my thing. I love my own space, didn’t want to be away from all my friends and family for too long, and didn’t fancy the idea of spending my summer working. I was wrong. And if whoever is reading this is in the same mindset as I was, you’re wrong too (no offence). Spending the summer at J1Accom in Chicago was the best decision I ever made.

I met Paul a few months before my J1 through a mutual friend and straight away he sold Chicago to me. I planned on going there with two friends from home, but they pulled out last minute so I was kind of at a loss and didn’t think my J1 would go ahead. I got talking to three girls I know from college and they suggested I go with them. Sorted. Paul took everything we discussed into consideration and put us into two two-bedroom apartments in the SSV building. Having the peace of mind of knowing where I was going to be living before leaving for America was so handy, both for me and for the poor mother worrying at Dublin airport seeing me off. Booking and paying was so simple and Paul was always in contact. The money I spent on J1Accom was 100% worth it for everything we had (I didn’t have to share a bathroom, kitchen or mattress on the floor with fifteen others like most J1ers do).

When we arrived in the Windy City we got an Uber straight to the accommodation and we were in our beds within a few minutes of arriving. This was well-needed after our Wow-Air flight, which frankly had the opposite of the wow-factor. Me and one of the other girls had arranged to be in one apartment together because we’d lived with each other previously in college and we were the dinosaur-nugget-eating gals of the group, whereas the other two were more scrambled eggs and avocado people.

Side note: We discovered the Dino Nugs in Jewel Osco supermarkets. There was one about a ten minute walk from the accommodation or another one two stops away on the green line.

Which brings me to travel. For such a lazy person like myself, having the green train line directly behind the SSV building was a dream. It genuinely took about fifty steps to walk from the front door of our building to the platform, which had trains running every fifteen minutes or so straight into the city centre in less than twenty minutes. Then of course, the red line which was less than a five minute walk from SSV took us home many a night after Joe’s, Happies or McGee’s at 5am after a good feed of a footlong spicy Italian sub with southwest sauce (ask for Nick in the Subway up the street from Joe’s, he’ll sort you out). The red line also went straight to Michigan Avenue where you can waste your wages shopping in the best boutiques of Chi-Town.

If access to everything you’ll want to see in Chicago using the green and red lines won’t keep you happy enough, there’s a bus literally right in front of the building that takes you straight to Navy Pier, so you can eat some deep-dish pizza whilst watching the fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night.

All those nights out and days spent sight-seeing wouldn’t be the same without the odd friend or two to keep you entertained. The layout of the SSV building with a common area on each floor, a pool table on the top floor and two rooftop terraces meant that there was always someone to talk to. You could come home from work, go upstairs for a gander at who’s sitting out on the roof and within ten minutes someone you’d barely talked to before would’ve convinced you to go to Joe’s with them for their high quality $2 pitchers or $3 vodkas. I don’t think I ever came home to an empty rooftop. There was always a group up there who would welcome the chats and complaints about how many American customers commented on their accents in work today.

As the weeks went on, our group of friends expanded and I know for a fact that I’ve made amigos for life. My poor Snapchat memories is full to the brim of all the moments I captured over there, and still, over two months later I flick back and laugh at some of the nights we had. Best of all, if there was one night that I was too tired to socialise, I knew that I had my own room and bed to come home to (which came in handy when the boyfriend visited or when “dinosaur nugs girl” wanted a visitor over after a night of partying in Evil Olive, if you know what I mean).

So basically, if you’re considering going on a J1, chat to Paul and he can give you recommendations on which city to choose and how to go about planning your trip. Obviously I would recommend Chicago, but either way if you choose J1Accom you’re going to have a summer of meeting your future best friends, going out 24/7 and earning plenty of cash dolla whilst having the security and comfort that comes with their accommodation. So unless you’re a hermit or have a paralysing fear of long-haul flights, get yourself on that plane and have the summer of your life. #J1accomnumber1


* Go to Annette’s Italian Ice by Armitage Station and tell her you know Harriet she’ll sort you out with a free scoop or two.
* Eat in Vapiano on Wabash Ave. the pasta is unreal (there’s also a cheeky Nandos beside it if you’d prefer that).
* Jewel Osco do 1.75 litres of Smirnoff vodka for $16. You’re welcome.

Chicago – J1Accom #1 – John Cassidy

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J1Accom #1. By John Cassidy


Ah America – Land of the free, home of the landlords with twenty J1 students per room, if you don’t know where to look. You don’t need to fall prey to this “inevitable part of a J1” however, and you might just have the best summer of your life.

After finishing with what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of paperwork and stress getting my job and visa, I was looking forward to what many had told me would be the trip of a lifetime to America, more specifically Chicago, for the summer. Listening to advice from people who had gone to various places in the summers before me, I decided that I would stay in a hostel with two friends from home for the first few nights, while we would search for accommodation. The lads, however, were working too far away from the city to live with, so I was faced with the daunting task of finding people sound enough to live with, while still being close enough to work in the city.

After looking at *another* house that was wall-to-wall of sleeping bags and blow up mattresses I came across my saviour on Facebook – J1Accom.Com. My initial thoughts were that this was too good to be true, but with my new American sim card and a feeling that I’d be on the next plane home if this didn’t work out, I rang Paul and was filled with relief. An Irish voice that knew what I was going through calmed my mind and he told me I could call by whenever I was free, for a tour of the accommodation located on the grounds of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

I made the short journey on the “L” (the best parts of the DART and Luas rolled into one) from town. I was surprised at how little time it took as Chicago is so vast (bear in mind I’m coming from thinking Galway is difficult to navigate at times), and J1Accom was already looking promising. I got there and was shown around. It was amazing. Gone were the overcrowded sitting rooms being used as bedrooms. Here was a modern, comfortable, affordable place to live, where I would be sharing a kitchen and bathroom with only two others and would have my own bedroom. Needless to say, I went back to the hostel for my bags and had moved in by that night.

But even all the comforts of the place (pool table, ping-pong table, sky deck, laundry, common rooms, a 2-minute walk to the nearest tram stop and shops just across the road) while nice can’t compare with what you can’t see from any pictures – the atmosphere in the building. I genuinely couldn’t have hoped for a sounder bunch of people to move in with. From being an outsider not knowing anyone, they took me in as one of their own straight away. Living with 100 other Irish J1ers it really did feel like (pardon the cliché) home away from home. You now have all the Irish brothers and sisters you could want in this foreign land (and of course there’ll be enough Irish mammies to offer the world’s best advice at a minute’s notice too). From our newfound base we went to the nearby beach or explored the city, generally just having a ball.

Now, these 3 months in Chi-Town will be the best summer of your life…. if done right. Legally you don’t need to sort your accommodation before travelling over the pond, but save yourself the stress and blistered feet from miles walked, looking at overcrowded houses and book your stay in J1Accom located in IIT. It’ll give you more time to look around in those awestruck first few days, you wont have to worry about leaving work early on your second day to move your bags to the next hostel/Airbnb and you can go out to your hearts content knowing you can stumble in the door at whatever hour and not have to get up early to go house hunting. You’ll also benefit from the 24 -hour security on campus, so you can relax while enjoying your new surroundings. Just writing this piece has me thinking back on all the craic we had in J1Accom and nothing would give me better pleasure than to be back. Chicago is the ideal place for a J1 with everything you can ask for. Beaches resembling the West Coast, a bustling city that takes your breath away both day and night and a nightlife that can tire out even us Irish. The J1 is all about experiencing different culture. I found Chicago to be perfect and introduced me to so many different things and for the launchpad to your adventure I cannot recommend J1Accom enough!

John Cassidy

Chicago – J1Accom will make your summer in Chicago – Sarah Peppard

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Sarah Peppard. – J1Accom will make your summer in Chicago!


My journey begins with a group of four girls, trying to figure out where to go for our summer. All we knew was that we could not spend another wet miserable summer in Ireland. That’s for sure. So, we began researching the states for our J1’s. Where abouts would we go? Where would we live? Where would we work? And so on. It became very stressful very quickly, and because of this four soon became three, and before our eyes three become two. But you know what they say three is a crowd anyway.

Now the real journey begins, me and my best friend Luzma travelling to the other side of the world. Yes, the group was halved, yes we were terrified. This is when the real search began. We ended up getting what seemed like a great job with a catering company in Chicago. Good pay, good tips, flexible hours, the whole lot. And it sounded too good to be true… and it was. Shortly after speaking to some people I knew that went to Chicago the previous year, we found out that this company was a sham. Which was very lucky for us, but also sad as we had our hearts set on Chicago. It was getting later on in the year, and we just showed right back up at square one. We decided it would be best to try out all the jobs that our J1 sponsor was offering, do skype interviews the lot. They were all rotten. We set out on our own and emailed everywhere, found a nice little job in a pool side restaurant in Chicago(score) were the wage was reasonable and the owner was lovely. He also employed both of us (double score). From here we had two things ticked off the list where we are going and where we would work.

The next question is where we would live. This search began promptly. Because it was only the two of us, we were not able to afford our own place as rent was way to high. This meant that we were more than likely(defiantly) going to have to rent a room in someone’s house. The thought. Anything could happen here. We seemed to have about three choices when it came to choosing a room to rent, move in with a family, move in with a crazy cat lady or move in with a 50 single bachelor. Well that was a big nope. The stress levels grow as our flight date got closer. The thought of two 21 year old Irish girls showing up to the states with no where to live was very haunting. Very very haunting. One day we saw on post on the Chicago J1 Facebook group. Something along the lines of, over 100 beds for Irish J1’ers students in Chicago, student dorms, 1250 euro up front blah blah all about J1Accom. We looked into it and it seemed cool and also seemed really safe. Also had other Irish so we could make friends. As it was only the two of us. But 1250 euro. We did not have that money and we both knew our parents would laugh in our faces. They have already forked out so much. That went onto the backburner anyway. About a week later our search continues. Of course, I looked a bit further into J1Accom, it looked amazing it looked like the dream. Way better then Debby the cat lady, which was our first option at that moment in time. At this point I thought, sure what harm ill tell my mam about this place. To my surprise she turned around and said that it looks amazing, you’ll be safe, you’ll have your own room, you’re going to meet so many people your age. But then the question arose about the price. I told her 1250 up front then 500 in July than 250 back at the end. It worked out about 500 a month which is what we would have been paying anyway. Me and mum agreed that she would pay the upfront and that I would pay the 500 in July. So kind of like my mum as my landlord. But it worked. Luzma’s Mum got on bored and we were set. Luzma and I got so excited. But then we thought its been about a week since we saw the post on Facebook. It only had limited spaces, we thought we had defiantly missed it. We thought it was too late. We filled in the application anyways and with in two hours we had a place. Little did we know that this was going to unveil to be the best summer of our life’s.

This is where the real fun begins. We arrived about a month later to Chicago. Check in was easy with our American RA bringing us to our room and giving us our key cards. We were so tired, and jet lagged that as soon as we got there we crashed. When we woke up we were amazed. Not only did we have our own rooms we had our own apartment. While we looked around Luzma reminded me of our friend Iza. She was also in Chicago. The difference being she was in a two-bed apartment, same as us, but with 18 other people. Safe to say I didn’t envy her. That brings us to our first night in Chicago, we wanted to drink and see what the craic was with everyone living in the building. We got drink and headed to the forth floor where all the statuses on the residence page said to go (Yes the building has its own group chats!). Like sheep we followed. Here we met some people, we didn’t know it at the time, but these people were soon to become our best friends. There was a problem with our Wifi the first night so of coarse we were there giving out balls about how shite the wifi was in this place and those two ‘reps’ Brian and Paul didn’t do anything to help. But it was our first night, there was so many names to remember. Of course we didn’t realise we were giving out about Brian and Paul to… Brian and Paul. Well shite. Who would have known, our reps hang with us. They turned around and laughed. Thank god. Brian then informed us that he had been down three times that day and we were out. I guess they were a bit more useful after all. That’s when the fun really began who knew that our landlords were basically on a J1 with us. They brought us out, showed us the city, the clubs, anything you asked they did. Told us where to go and more importantly where not to go. They looked out for us. Not to mention they were gas. A pair of ejits. Very loveable ejits. They looked after us and introduced us to everyone in the accommodation. Showed everything great about the place, the best way to get into town. Which is by train and right outside the accom door. Just saying.

We soon made good friends with four girls. They had a six bedroom apartment upstairs and we had a three bedroom apartment down stairs. There was a chance that a random person could be moved into our apartment or that two random people could be moved into theirs. The girls offered for the two of us to move in with them, and then that would eliminate the chance of strangers moving in with us. We went to Paul and Brian with our idea, to see if this was even acceptable and the next day we were moved in. That was that, that’s how quick they were to help. Even in our times of most stress we would turn to Paul. Christie, one of the girls in our apartment, went to put tacos into the microwave. When I came out of my room to see what everyone was doing, I seen jess and Christie chatting away on the couch. But to my left, I seen a lot of smoke and sparks, the microwave was basically on fire. They didn’t even notice. I look at the girls and screamed ‘its gonna blow’ as I run into Elaine’s bedroom (not my best idea, would have been a goner) and the girls run out the door. In my desperate call for help I shout ‘call Paul’ ‘Call Paul’ as if he was magic and would come and save us. No. He was in New York in the J1Accom building there that day. All our screaming got Luzma out of the shower, yes a wet person stupid again, who turned off the microwave and shuck her head at us. This just shows that even in my most scared moments I would turn to Paul. Even if I knew he wasn’t there. This is just one of many many amazing stories I have from the summer. And I don’t even want to think how different my summer would have been if I ended up living with Debby the cat lady. It was the best summer of my life and I put that down to the people I met. Which I never would have met without J1Accom. To top it all off when we went travelling we hit New York. As Brian and Paul also had a J1Accom in New York we were put up for 3 days and also shown all around New York by Paul himself. I wouldn’t stay anywhere else if I was to do my J1 again.

New York – We had the basics but more importantly the location – Seán McLoone

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We had the basics but more importantly the location


My name is Seán, and I spent my summer in Connolly Hall, Brooklyn with two of my friends and it was nothing short of an amazing experience that really made my J1 in New York City a memorable one.  The key reason why I enjoyed living here so much was the location and the excitement and opportunities this gave us to.


We heard of J1Accom through a friend who went last year, and it seemed like everything we were looking for, great location, easy access to a subway and more importantly it was accommodation we could afford, everything seemed to fit perfectly.  We were fortunate enough to pre-book and have the peace of mind of finding accommodation before we landed which was a big help, the horror stories we avoided one story for example from other Irish lads and ladies who ended up hours on the subway in the Bronx, they stayed somewhere which could only be described as a cramped crack den.


I’ll start from the beginning, fresh off the plane and meeting with our J1Accom Rep to officially get us checked in was exciting, at this point everything was!  We had an apartment with three beds on the 6th floor of the Connolly building with a bathroom and one kitchen.  We had no expectations going into the apartment, but it was the parties and friends we had over that made the whole experience worthwhile.  The whole floor was Irish and all J1ers, we were able to make friends almost right away, the whole crew went out together and there was no man or woman left behind, Patrick Greene was the J1Accom nightlife Rep and was thoughtful enough to get everybody into the rooftop bars and clubs, this guy did everything it was crazy, clubs, rooftops, boat parties, and my personal favorite bottomless brunch.  On our own, we would’ve struggled to get everybody into the same place since there was such a large group of us.  This happened the first week before we started our jobs, I was working as a server in Manhattan and transportation into my job was important to me.


Speaking of transportation, did I mention there was a subway station right outside the apartment? I timed it and even on a bad day it took me twenty minutes to get into work (there were a lot of bad days).  The subway station was Dekalb Avenue and it served places like Times Square, Cortland Street and loads more.


As a big Foodie too after finishing work, I must have spent most of my wages in DeKalb food market right across from where Connolly hall was.  This place had everything if you weren’t bothered cooking, Mexican, BBQ, Sushi, Seafood, and everything sweet imaginable.  Now this didn’t happen all the time, we needed food for the apartment and utilities, luckily for us in the same location there was a trader joe’s, which is the Supervalu of America loads of shopping was done here that had everything we needed (even Kerry gold butter when you missed the proper butter).  Also, we had Target, this place had everything and there were also bargains on their app that really helped us settle into our apartment.


We here happy where we were, and I hope anybody reading this will find it useful in some way.  Looking back now it took so much stress off our shoulders and we had time to enjoy ourselves! We could start work as soon as possible and break out the cans of four loko for only $3!  Moral of the story is living in downtown Brooklyn it was never a walk in the park and we did run into our fair share of problems, but life here was so much easier and I don’t think I would’ve found a better place to live.


P.S take advantage of the 2 Bro’s pizza around the corner, $1 proper New York cheese slices is all you need.

Seán McLoone

New York – West Girl Meets the Big Apple – Erika Kingston

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West Girl Meets the Big Apple


The summer of 2018 in New York City was full of laughs, memories and a lot of Mean Fiddlers…


I made the courageous decision to travel solo to NYC in June 2018 (if you’re worried about it, don’t be, just do it!) and it was hands down the best experience and decision I have made to date.


After booking the early bird J1 back in November, I started thinking about where the hell I was going to live, I know right, early bird catches the worm.. I found J1Accom through the Facebook page and was in contact with a girl that had been there before. I contacted Paul in January, but sure enough I was a tad biteen early and was assured a place when they opened applications, which is sooo straight forward and simple, a monkey could understand it. With everything sorted before I sat my final year exams I was cruising and couldn’t wait to get over.


I cannot stress enough how much of a relieve it was knowing when I landed in JFK that I had everything sorted and a bed to fall into that night, and the night after that as well!! Trust me your parents wont be calling you every five seconds if you’ve this sorted, let me tell ya!


I was staying in the Conolly Building which is located right in the campus of LIU. I was so impressed it was gated and secure and central. You could nearly fall out of bed and into the subway within 4 minutes of waking up, or coming home, (ideal for work and the odd night out.) The Q train (its yellow I believe) is your way in and out of the city, and you’re in the middle of Manhattan in 20 mins, plus you cannot beat the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan when you cross the river (the Hudson btw).


What worried me about going over by myself was, shock, making friends. This was not a problem as nearly everyone you meet is Irish in the building. Funny story, I actually arrived at LIU with my bags and three lads arrived just in front of me and were from Dublin and had just come off the same flight as me. Small world as they say. You will make friends in no time. Plus, it’s New York there’s Irish everywhere! This makes it handy when you need to pop to 7/11 and grab some Four Locos for the night ahead. The nights out organised are one of the bests nights you will have. Can you imagine sailing on the Hudson river abroad a boat with a drink (or two) in your hands and looking out over the Manhattan skyline? Well Patrick Greene is the man that will sort you with everything you need, and caters for J1Accom students. Patrick is an Irish club promoter in NYC and is the guy that will get you into that night club(rooftop bar) VIP with free drink if you stay with J1Accom. What more could you (and your insta) ask for.


I have made friends for life while being apart of the J1Accom group and memories that I wont be sharing with the fam back home. What I will say is that if you’re flying solo or with a bunch of friends this is your one stop shop for a hassle free life.

Summer 2017 in the LIU residencies in downtown Brooklyn by Charlie Ryan

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I spent summer 2017 in the LIU residencies in downtown Brooklyn, which was undoubtedly the best summer of my life. Spending a J1 in New York is a wonderful experience, which gave me memories I’ll cherish forever. Living in Hoyt Street was such an accessible area, situated only 1 subway stop from Manhattan, with the surrounding districts also within convenient commuting time. Most tourist attractions are within 20 minutes from the residency, which is well connected with different underground subway stations. Downtown Brooklyn is a dynamic area with lots of shops, parks, restaurants, and sports facilities.  Century 21 Department Stores is a huge mall is across the road, within the store complex there is also a modern cinema called Alamo House which is a must visit for students. Dekalb food market is also in this complex, providing students with a range of different food options from across the world. There are food vendors of all different nationalities in the food market and we regularly visited the market to hang out and grab food together. Trader Joes supermarket is located next to the market and is a convenient supermarket right on your door step. Planet Fitness is directly opposite the LIU residencies, my friends and I joined for the summer. Membership only cost us $15 dollars per month each. Fort Greene Park is a nice little park only a 10-minute walk away. It has basketball and tennis courts in the centre and a barbeque area at the entrance too.

During the summer I made numerous friends from all over Ireland, the accommodation is full of Irish J1 students and we all had similar interests. The 2 resident organisers Patrick and Paul hosted meetup gatherings for all students in the building on a regular basis, giving us an opportunity to meet other J1 students. These were very useful for integrating with everyone, the events also had free night club entry and a range of promotions in top New York venues. Having a residency so central with lots of other students in a similar age bracket contributed massively to an unbelievable summer in Hoyt street. Students share a communal kitchen on our floor which was great for meeting people and planning days off together. The student accommodation also has wash facilities, making it very easy to take care of washing on days off. Once we arrived in New York it was such a relief to have accommodation sorted straight away. Finding a lease for 3 months in New York proved very difficult, we had numerous friends who had to change residencies during the summer and had to spend a week in a hotel at the beginning. Having LIU set up from when we arrived was hassle free and we moved in on our first day of arrival. The accommodation also had a discounted UBER voucher for us that we used to get to Hoyt street from JFK airport. There are 2 beaches within travel distance from Hoyt street. Coney Island is a funfair beach area. It takes 40 minutes to get down to Coney Island but is worth the trip, then Far Rockaway beach is 50 minutes but is extremely nice, there are lots of food vendors and shopping facilities around the area. The Barclays arena is a 20-minute walk away. During the summer we saw the promotional event between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather in the arena. The event was free on Ticketmaster and the Barclays arena hold a lot of these promotions over the summer. As well as that, there are a lot of artists and sport events that take place here. Piers 2 and 3 are a subway stop away and we regularly went down here for barbeques and to hang out. There is a great view of the Manhattan skyline from the pier and it’s a good area to chill out with friends in the evenings. Dumbo is beside the Pier and it is a viewing point underneath the Brooklyn bridge, all the boats in the harbour pass here and it’s a real spectacle at night time. Kimoto is a roof top bar we visited often. This is a 28-storey rooftop bar and there’s a great view of the Statue of Liberty at the top. Overall, I would highly recommend LIU Brooklyn residencies for a potential J1 students. It is located at the heart of New York and there are endless possibilities for students in the locality.


Charlie Ryan

My J1 Experince by Anna Kindlon

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Heading to New York on a J1 visa was, without a doubt, the best experience of my life. From the minute I landed, I was dreading the day I had to leave. The memories and friends I have made will stay with me forever.

Applying for the J1, I had no doubt in my mind that New York was where I wanted to go. I managed to get a job with relative ease, and things seemed to be going great. That was until I started looking for accommodation.

The accommodation in New York is extortionate. I cannot exaggerate this enough.  It was near impossible to find anywhere. I was heading over with my boyfriend and we wanted to live with fellow J1s. We found a few others on the J1 Facebook page and we started to look for somewhere we could all bunch in together. However, it was near impossible to find anywhere.

Weeks of searching, turned in to months. Anywhere we found that was near our budget was at least an hour away from our work. We were advised to book a hostel for the first few days and find accommodation when we arrived. However, as there was only two of us and we really wanted to meet and live with new people, we thought this was two much of a risk.

We had nearly lost all hope of living in New York, when we heard of the J1 Accom. This was a company set up by Paul Mc Cabe. He, like many others, was scammed by a landlord on a J1. He realised this was a common problem people were facing and wanted to give students a safe place to stay so he teamed up with LIU university and started renting their halls to J1 students in the summer months. Being able to pre book the accommodation meant that you could arrive in New York and start working, and therefore earning straight away.

We decided this was our best option.  For me, the main appeal was the fact I would be living with one hundred other Irish people. It was also really affordable, and the location was brilliant. It is located in Brooklyn Heights a really up and coming area with a great buzz about it. On top of this, it was only a 20 minute commute to my work in Lower Manhattan. The Subway station was literally on the door step, so it was very safe getting home at nights.

The Accommodation itself is the LIU student accommodation throughout the year. In that sense, it was very similar to the halls we would have here. There were big communal areas (perfect for drinking), laundry facilities and 24 hour security. We got a two person apartment which consisted of our own bathroom, kitchen and two bedrooms. There were also single rooms and bigger group rooms. Everyone had access to the communal areas and there was always someone about to spend you days off with.

New York is well known as the ‘city that never sleeps.’ The night life is incredible, but again it is not cheap. However, J1 Accom had a solution for us.  The Nightclub promoter Patrick Greene worked alongside the halls and would organise weekly events to all the best night clubs in New York. The best thing was; everything was free! We are talking rooftop nightclubs, with VIP tables and unlimited free drink! This was available to every J1 accom student nearly every day of the week.

The area really could not be better. It was surrounded by restaurants, supermarkets and shops. It was within a 15 minute walk of Brooklyn Piers. This is an incredible area, with views over lower Manhattan. It has football pitches, basketball courts, roller blading area, an outdoor gym and  an barbeque area all along the pier. The Brooklyn Bridge is within a 10 minute walk, the sights from it are unbelievable. This also meant, it is relatively easy to walk or cycle into Manhattan.

No words could do my summer in New York justice. I owe so much of this incredible experience to J1 Accom. Without it I wouldn’t have met half the people I did and my experience would be so different. I would recommend J1 Accom to anyone planning a J1 this year.


Anna Kindlon