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.