Tales from the dark side: Life on a J1 visa
Shootings, scams, booze, wanton destruction: some of the best - and worst - J1 stories
It’s an annual rite of passage for thousands of Irish college students each summer: the J1 Visa, which allows them to work in the U.S for three months.
And every summer, thousands of Irish students can be seen traipsing the streets of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and New York, living 15 to a two-bed apartment.
You’ll know them by their sunburn - and by the bottles of beer in tow.
J1 summers can be a truly amazing time: filled with adventure and new experiences. When students return in September, they regale their friends with their crazy stories, a lot of which involve too much tequila and a strip club in Tijuana.
But sometimes, however, as this IrishCentral list shows, things go horribly, horribly wrong…..
A documentary series on Irish television last year, called “J1 Summer”, charted the exploits of students from Dublin, Galway and Dundalk, in San Diego, Chicago and Hawaii.
The results were shocking: some students were show stealing from their employer; others were shown having screaming matches with one another; another was filmed jumping off a balcony.
Boozing was one of the main activities the students get up: when one student arrived in San Diego, the rest of his pals organized a drinking game to welcome him, which involved fortified wine. Things soon got out of hand, with one student breaking his ankle.
Another episode features a group of underage students who discover a special bus trip to a club across the border to Mexico, complete with a stripper-pole.
They get dropped off on the other side of the Mexican border and head to a aclub where they can drink as much as they want for $12 per head. One of them goes missing – so the rest of his friends set off back to the U.S. without him.
Throwing TVs from rooftops; smashing photographs; a urine stained carpet; and a missing front door – this is just a brief list of destruction a group of Dublin students visited upon three Santa Barbara apartments in 2005.
The students – who went to college at the Dublin Institute of Technology, and had addresses in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods of Dublin – gained notoriety in Ireland when the story hit the headlines.
It was thought that they caused around $15,000 worth of damage.
They were also accused of writing obscene graffiti on the walls, and attacking a nearby fraternity house
Property manager Kathy Maher told the Irish Times that she had rented apartments to Irish students for years without any serious problems – but “There was never anything like this."
"The destruction is in every part of the room, from damaged heater covers, to overflowing toilets to marker scribbles all over the walls and the appliances,” she said.
“It wasn't just that there was graffiti on the walls, it was the really lewd words and pictures."
Just as there are always a bunch of J1 Irish college students who go over the top, booze too hard and end up doing themselves some serious danger, so too are there always some unfortunate J1’ers who end up falling victim to a scam.
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