Many Irish J-1 students in dire straits as they struggle to find housing and work in U.S.
Trying to hang on in America when every door is closed in our face
Nothing could match the feeling of excitement and exhilaration as myself and seven friends neared the end of the tortuous U.S. immigration procedures in Dublin Airport.
Excruciating as our preceding half-year wait may have been, hopes were high as we prepared to embark on a three-month Mid-western J-1 odyssey which threatened to put Homer’s to shame.
Our aspirations were firmly grounded in reality, of course.
A luxurious five bedroom apartment situated in downtown Chicago with only the finest amenities and facilities, including the obligatory pool, where the minimum requirements as our heads were filled with tales of revelry by those who’d lived the American dream in summers past.
Stepping off the plane on a balmy Memorial Monday our mood was unrivalled. Nothing had been sorted yet, but after a day or two in the hostel finding accommodation for the rest of the summer would be a mere formality, surely.
Fast-forward 10 days and the collective mood had darkened decidedly.
Having already obliterated my $1000 nest egg for which I had scrimped and saved so diligently during the previous months of hard work, my new airbed provided scant consolation as I lay demoralised on the floor of Dan O’Donnell’s abandoned bank, homeless for another night.
That said, it was a relative luxury compared to the trials and tribulations of the previous few nights.
Rather than pay premium rates to extend our four-day stay at the hostel, we decided to rely on the abounding kindness of far-flung friends and relations with a couch or a bit of spare floor space, and even spent two nights in a southside seminary after our pleas for help to the local church fell on deaf ears.
Indeed, if it weren’t for the generosity of good Samaritans such as Mr. O’Donnell we very realistically have been forced to scour the city streets for a spot to rest our heads until flights back to Ireland could be arranged.
Amid all the talk of great nights out and unforgettable memories to last a lifetime at pre-departure seminars, my sponsor agency had somehow managed to omit such minor details as the inevitable difficulty finding accommodation in a city that has reverted to an attitude reminiscent of the old ‘No Irish need apply’ mantra which had allegedly been consigned to the past.
Numerous letters and agencies had cited our nationality as the primary motivation for denying us a place to stay as our attempts to secure lodgings became increasingly more frustrated. Distain and indifference became our constant and most unwelcome companions as we trudged disconsolately through a city with an abundance of empty properties, but no-one willing to lease them to the like of us.
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Everyone disregard my post that is unfinished. I hit enter by mistake, sorry.Spanish judge slams Ryanair’s sexist air hostess calendar
Chuck I didn't realize that you had a great sense of humor, that was to funny. I actually had to watch it two or three times before I came to my decisThe New York Times questions Ireland’s highly-praised economic recovery
Maybe the Times should question Obama's recovery.Bah! Humbug! The ten worst things about Christmas (PHOTOS)
And to you Chuck a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. I have my New Year resolution already and that is to stop antagonizing you, enough is en