As droves of fresh faced Irish students touch down on U.S. soil eager to experience a slice of American life this summer, MOLLY MULDOON talks to some new arrivals about their experience so far.
It's a Sunday evening on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and Eilis Power from Limerick is busy taking orders in the outdoor seating area of an Irish bar. Dressed in black, pen and notebook at the ready, the law student is slowly adjusting to New York life.
“I am not used to working on my feet for so long, it's hard to get used to that,” Power told the Irish Voice, after working a 12-hour waitressing shift less than a week after arriving in New York.
A student from Waterford IT, she traveled to the Big Apple on her own after a neighbor from home said he could set her up with a summer job here.
“My parents offered to pay for me to come over as they knew I would have job, whereas at home I wouldn't have that guarantee,” said Power.
Currently staying at a hostel in Manhattan, she is searching for a place to live.
“I tried Woodside and Sunnyside and the Bronx but there is nothing up in Woodlawn,” says Power.
“I will have to try again but it’s hard with work.”
So far the 22-year-old says she is not in awe of New York, but is enjoying the experience. “I like it, it's very easy to get lost!” she laughs.
After two previous trips to New York, Ciaran Tolan, 30, from Co. Wicklow decided to come to the Big Apple to embrace the J-1 visa summer experience.
“I wanted to work over here to see if it's as great a city to live in as it is to visit. Even with all the hassle and uncertainty of not knowing where I'm going to be sleeping each night, I still get a kick out of the simple fact that I'm in New York,” Tolan told the Irish Voice.
A mature student at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dublin, him and six of his classmates arrived in New York two weeks ago.
The English students decided to book temporary accommodation for their first week and found an apartment on the popular website Roomorama.com before arriving. Paying more than $1,000 to a lady called Monique, they were satisfied their lodgings were legitimate.
However, after flight delays, the tired group finally touched down late on a Tuesday night and tried to contact the lady who had rented them their accommodation, but there was no answer.
Stranded in the arrivals hall of JFK Airport, the group contemplated staying there for the night before they managed to find a hotel in Long Island. After two $80 cab rides later, they finally had a place to rest their weary bones after the long haul flight.
The next morning they made several more fruitless attempts to contact Monique, but she failed to answer their phone calls or respond to their voicemail messages.
Persistent, they traveled to the location of their rented accommodation in Midtown and found a “dingy little doorway.” Desperate, they booked a hotel in Manhattan as they began their search for summer accommodation.
When the Irish Voice contacted Monique, she maintained she had not heard from the group of Irish students and said she did not answer phone calls from restricted numbers. She refused to give the Irish Voice any further contact details, and instead advised for the group to contact her again.
Finally after several days, they finally made contact with Monique, who would not provide the agreed accommodation but did offer a full refund.
Another one of the group, Brian Fitzpatrick from Templeogue in Dublin, is not put off by the incident. He says he decided to come to New York to “see the greatest city on Earth,”
“Despite our trouble with our accommodation, I've really enjoyed my time here. People are generally really friendly and helpful, and there is a great vibe in the city that I have not experienced anywhere else,” he told the Irish Voice.
“But I've been quite surprised at the lack of readily available Wi-Fi Internet access, which has made it harder to stay in contact with friends and family back home,” he said.