J1Accom Chicago- Don’t be shy when it comes to Chi-Town
by Eoin O’Donnell
Writing and reminiscing about this summer in Chicago is no easy task, because it only drills home the fact that the summer of a lifetime is getting further and further in the rear-view mirror. A J1 in Chicago is one of the best experiences you’ll ever have, and if you really want to guarantee that, J1Accom should be the first call you make.
They say Chicago is one of Ireland’s second homes, and with a few thousand of our students flooding the city for a summer of madness every year, it’s not exactly hard to spot us, but if you really want to book a slice of home away from home, there’s only one spot for it. True, you might miss out on some of the ‘magic’ of a classic J1 when you’re not packing twelve people between a handful of sleeping bags onto a mouldy floor. You’ll also be lacking the oh-so-powerful sense of dread that comes from the constant threat of eviction in a frat house, but J1Accom more than makes up for it.
It’s hard to describe how much of a relief it is to have your accommodation sorted before you set foot on American soil, and landing a few thousand miles away with no worries whatsoever- you’re stepping from one home to another. Booking rooms online couldn’t have been easier, and our group of five was set up with two and three sets of single rooms right beside each other, no moving around needed whatsoever. Brian and Paul were our points of contact before and after we arrived, and on either end of the process you couldn’t ask for a more helpful pair. We had our rooms organized long before we took off, and anything we needed when we got there was only a text or a phone call away- the lads took care of everything, from signing in, to the (more than) occasional night out.
The rooms were huge, with more than you’ll ever need, and they’ll definitely make any other student accommodation tough to go back to. It was hard for visiting friends to grasp that there were just two of us sharing our bathroom, kitchen and living area, not twenty like they were accustomed to by normal J1 standards. The free laundry rooms and WiFi were probably the biggest essentials, but the full oven was a nice luxury for when we decided to emotionally graduate from microwaving hot pockets and pizza rolls. The fridge was big enough to hold enough cans of Four Loko to knock out an elephant, which ours most certainly did on more than one occasion.
Location is usually the first thing on your mind when house hunting on J1, and the Illinois Tech Campus was the perfect spot to be. With 24-hour security, any worries you’ve heard about South Chicago should be thrown out the window, and any late-night wanders from the train station will take all of about twenty seconds. When I say the bus stop and train station are on your doorstep, I mean it pretty much literally; my commute to work was half of what it is to college in Dublin, and Chicago’s public transit will make you hate every Bus Eireann journey even more (even if it doesn’t seem possible). The city was never more than a few stops away, with connections to pretty much every ‘L’-Train line right around the corner.
For groceries and shopping, you’re looking at a whopping 5-minute train ride, and for late night munchies, the on-campus 7-11 is your new best friend in walking distance (just prepare yourself to eat more pizza than a small Italian army). For a few drinks, Reggie’s will probably be your local haunt, just the next stop on the line- a real American dive bar, with basketball hoops and a rooftop view of the stars to boot.
Speaking of rooftops, if you really want to lounge in the sun or party under the stars, you never even have to leave the building. On top of the indoor lounges, TVs and pool tables, both of the J1Accom buildings were topped with a pair of rooftop decks, perfect for Chicago’s long Summer nights. Whether it’s to get the session going or top off a long night, most of the best chats and best times were had atop the building, with the Chicago skyline never out of sight. As for sunbathing, it was a lot closer, and a lot less sandy than the beach.
Nobody ever really ends a J1 without a few new friends, but with about 200 like-minded neighbours just a knock on the door away, J1Accom ends up feeling more like a new family. After a few weeks of seeing the same faces on the roof or at the train, you’ll feel more at home than you ever could anywhere else, and you’ll never be stuck for someone to join on the scauldiest nights of your life in Joe’s (you’ll understand when you get there).
It’s not just the best place to be for your summer in Chicago, it’s the perfect place to be; if you’re looking for a bit of comfort, and a new family for the summer, look no further than J1Accom.