When Angel returned from her volunteering trip to Tanzania last year she overflowed with little observations about life in Africa. And it was the same this summer after 11 weeks in the US.
She left at the end of May with a group of friends on a J-1 Visa - which gives college students the opportunity to experience life in the US, and work there for a few months. They rented a house in Newport, Rhode Island, which is a summer playground for millionaires.
Jobs were easy to obtain - and easy to lose too. Angel worked in a T-shirt shop, and saw lots of hirings and firings during her brief employment there. But perhaps that's not always a bad thing either. The long term employees entertained themselves by telling tall tales and escapades, to whoever would listen, from serious internet shopping habits, to unreal sporting achievements - 60ft cliff jumps anyone? Perhaps that's what happens when you have to spend 50 hours a week folding T shirts for a living and have a new audience of young Irish students to impress every summer...
They didn't spend the whole time working though, oh no!
And the millionaires seemed delighted to invite a gaggle of young Irish girls to all their parties, especially on the 4th July!
Food became a major obsession and it was only a few weeks before she began asking for a roast chicken dinner on her return, and a trip to the supermarket to stock up on healthy foods, as she explains.
"I can understand why so many people are obese in the US - it's much cheaper and easier to buy a large slice of pizza for a dollar than a selection of vegetables to make a salad. And with 30 cans of coke for a fiver, that was what most people drank as the tap water wasn't safe, and bottled water was more expensive."
Everyone drank, drove and smoked weed apparently, which is not illegal in Rhode Island, or many other States. Yet being caught drinking on the street could get you into huge trouble. It all seemed very inconsistent to Irish eyes.
She and a friend spent their last week exploring Boston and New York. She LOVED New York, especially the attitude where one look says it all: You want MORE ketchup? They stayed in a hostel in Manhattan, basic but pricey. Not much privacy either, with just partitions between the cell-like rooms. Sleeping could be difficult especially if someone had their iPod speakers set to maximum. One night, Angel had had enough. She strode down towards the noise, and announced that it was past 10pm, which meant that playing loud music was against the rules. The sound was instantly extinguished. Wow! What has happened to my quiet shy girl? Something good I think!
The friends also found time to visit Ground Zero and Yankee Stadium.
And her verdict on the J1 Visa? Well every student should do it if they can...and it might make you appreciate home more as well. Just like Angel, you might miss the fashion, the food, and the history and culture in Europe, so that's where she's planning to head next summer...
|Bye bye NYC!|