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

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.