Looking back now, I and my three friends were extremely lucky coming across Paul and J1.Accom back in May. We had extremely good jobs in upper east Manhattan as doormen, flights were paid for yet we had no luck finding accommodation. We wanted somewhere close to Manhattan with an easy commute to work and nightlife but not the typical J1 haunts like Queens or Woodlawn. The places and people we contacted through different social media, family relations of friends of friends turned out to be dead ends with either location, cost or simply just something not feeling right about a property. Luckily we got in contact with Paul in late May, who was recommended through a friend, and as a group we thought the location was ideal in LIU Brooklyn from researching it on google maps.
It’s no lie we had apprehensions arriving to LIU’s accommodation on Hoyt Street as it was the first time in New York and for the next three months to live in a new area and city which we had only seen on TV. All these worries faded once we got into our room which had plenty of space for ourselves with our own bathroom, which was luxury compared to most J1 students who could have 12 to a room! The communal area, where the kitchen and common room were situated, was perfect for making new friends with the rest of the J1 students on the floor, plan activities in Brooklyn or Manhattan or just share a few cups of tea when homesickness started to creep in. Paul teaming up with fellow Irishman Patrick Greene the owner of “The Greene Room” meant that plenty of nights out were organised in different places around Manhattan from roof top bars or boats on the river Hudson, both of which gave amazing views of the city, to some of the best clubs in town with Patrick making sure that we were well looked after throughout the night and asking how were we settling into New York life. These nights really did help us to get to know the city a lot better and grow a lot more confident in our surroundings plus these were the icebreaker nights for making more friends from people staying with J1.Accom that we might not have talked to until then or had just arrived.
Paul was fantastic in helping set us up in those first several weeks, getting minor things for the room and communal areas and giving advice on opening American bank accounts, social security cards etc. in order for us to be paid as soon as possible by our employers when we started work. However, one of the major benefits of in living in Hoyt Street was that when we began to explore the local area around us in Brooklyn we realised that all the metro stations for all the different lines were either beside us or less than 10 mins walk away. Having the subways literally on our doorstep meant we could be on a train to any part of Manhattan to see the tourist sights, go to a party or meet up with friends in Central Park. When the city got too much you could always take the subway further down into Brooklyn or go to Coney Island to go the beach for the day. Another handy thing too is that you can take the subway straight from Hoyt Street to JFK which saves a very substantial taxi fare.
There was so much on offer around Hoyt Street in terms of shopping, restaurants or just taking care of important things like pay checks, groceries with several banks nearby and a brand new shopping centre opened just a two min walk away on DeKalb Avenue which had Trailer Joes for all your grocery needs and a really unique food hall which had different eateries which are similar to market stalls you’d find around Europe offering different American dishes like BBQ ribs, freshly made donuts or craft beer and also other food. We had found a gem of a place along East River, which again is a straight 20 min walk from Hoyt Street, and that’s Pier 5/6 which is on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park. There’s a number of different piers that jut out into the river with some having AstroTurf pitches which we went to quite a bit to kick around a ball and take in the skyline of Downtown Manhattan. There’s BBQ facilities at the pier which we also used from time to time watching the lights turn on in Downtown, before walking through the park to Brooklyn bridge itself and taking in the views from there. The BBQ facilities were ideal for the 4th of July where we could meet up with other J1ers and plenty of locals and have the craic.
If I had known about J1Accom.Com and LIU’s collaboration in January I would have booked straight away. To be honest, there isn’t a more ideal partnership and the location alone speaks for itself, it made work, settling into life in New York a lot easier and allowed us to enjoy the best summer of our life and make lifelong friends and memories.