Tales from the dark side: Life on a J1 visa
Shootings, scams, booze, wanton destruction: some of the best - and worst - J1 stories
Sometimes, this is through no fault of their own – and sometimes, this is just down to plain old naiveté.
Last year, a travel operator called Sayit said that it was aware of a number of students who didn’t get their deposits returned, which for student accommodation would normally be around $1000.
One scam involves evicting students with a few days to go on their lease, with no good reason, and then holding on to their deposit.
"In situations like this, which usually occur in coastal summer towns, we normally alert the local chamber of commerce who take a very dim view of students being taken advantage of," Sayit manager Trevor Ryan told the paper.
"If I was to give a piece of advice it would be to ensure that the property is thoroughly inspected prior to occupancy and any pre-existing damage or defects are noted in the lease prior to being signed by both the tenant and landlord."
One Cork student reported being evicted with one week to go on his lease. "It really is such a disgrace. Before we were evicted a group of Dublin girls were also evicted and then our neighbors got evicted the night of them leaving.
"Our house was always that messy so why evict us on the last week," he said.
If there is one thing that can ruin a perfectly good J1 summer , which should otherwise be taken up with boozing, it’s getting shot.
Nothing destroys the holiday atmosphere like a long spell in a U.S. hospital after an unfortunate incident with a heavily-caliber handgun.
Which is what happen to Tracy Keane, who in 1993 was a 21-year-old science student at Trinity College Dublin.
While on a J1 in San Francisco in August, Tracy was out having pizza one night with friends in the famous Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city. Shortly after 11.30 p.m., she was mugged by a 16-year-old who was a weekend release from a detention center.
Fortunately, Tracy made a full recovery after the incident.
But still, the lesson is clear: Irish J1 students, whatever you do, do not get shot…
Sean – not his real name – recalls doing his J1 in San Diego, in 2000. Things didn’t quite turn out as planned for him and his fellow finance students at University College Dublin. Work was hard enough to come by, and was only ever semi-regular.
He somehow managed to get a job as a door-to-door kitchen knife salesman. He had a script to follow as part of his sales pitch – and on one occasion, right after he told an old lady, “I’ll just put this safely away…” the knife slipped, he cut himself, and ended up requiring a number of stitches.
At least his medical insurance would cover that – when Irish students get their J1 Visa, their travel operators include health insurance into the cost. So Sean was covered – this time.
However, the travel operator, which in this case was a company called Usit, made it clear that they don’t cover health care bills that are alcohol related.
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