To this day - I consider my J1 days as some of the best of my life.
Jetting off to America for the first time - no parents, no rules, no plans - it was total freedom.
But there are definitely some things I wish I knew before I headed off.
Here they are:
1. Getting a social security number will be the hardest and most frustrating thing you ever do
I was told mine would take two weeks - it took ten!
The worst part? I couldn't get paid until I had one, so was living on a strict cornflakes and cans of Four Loko diet.
2. Print a rake of CV/resumés before you leave
Take total advantage of mam 'n' dad's printer and print as many as you possibly can.
You'll be handing them out like no tomorrow.
Internet cafés and libraries in J1 dense areas will charge you an arm and a leg for a single A4 - so fail to prepare, prepare to fail, bud.
3. You only need one can of Four Loko
4. You will find a job
STOP stressing - you'll find a job. Everyone does.
Try Craigslist (sounds dodge but that's where I found mine and it was great) and Indeed job website.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
Your J1 is the perfect opportunity to seize the day and do things you wouldn't normally do.
Learn how to cook, go on hikes, play beer pong, teach a sport, go jet skiing, shotgun a beer, learn to dance, go lazy river rafting - just do it all.
6. Make American friends
It can be easy on a J1 to get sucked into the Irish bubble (which is unreal craic, obviously) but Americans are also gas craic.
I made lifelong friends on mine who I know I can always call up and stay with if I'm ever travelling in the US.
Also - they'll know all the secret spots and hidden gems.
7. Colour Catchers will be your best friend
There is no such thing as a white wash and a dark wash when doing laundry on your J1.
Doing laundry can be expensive, and coin-swallowing experience.
But with Colour Catchers you can f*ck all your clothes in the wash at once and it'll catch all the running dyes so your clothes remain the same colour!
8. It's actually not that hard to eat semi-healthy
I thought I'd be ten stone heavier upon my return from my J1.
But it actually wasn't as hard to eat healthy as I thought.
You will eat your fair share of shite, yes, erbody gotta try Taco Bell and Chipotle at least ten times over the course of the summer, but you'll be craving fruit and veg too - I promise you.
Find a food market or a Costco and just stock up on a rake of bananas, apples and all that good stuff.
9. You'll play beer pong as often as you will work a shift
And you'll probably be shite - let's be real.
10. Bring work clothes
And plenty of them.
'Cos gurl - you gonna be working. A lot.
11. Vegas will be the death of you
But will forever be remembered as one of the best trips of your life.
If you didn't slosh around in suspiciously murky water at a pool party did you even go to Vegas?
12. Don't bring your hairdryer
It won't work, will take up a load of space in your and you can get one for like $20 over there in the likes of CVS and Walgreens.
13. You need a PostFX MasterCard currency card
This was my saviour on my J1.
It's a secure and easy way to manage your money when travelling in the USA.
You top it up while at home in the An Post office before heading off and it converts your Euros into Dollars.
You are given two cards - and I gave one to my parents in case of emergencies that they could top it up over here or even post it over to me if I lost the other one.
You can use them in shops, restaurants and at ATMs and saves you carrying around a load of cash. There is also free 24-hour global emergency assistance.
If you take one piece of advice from this entire article - it's to get one of these cards set up.
14. Beware of tax
Because it is added to literally everything.
15. You've gotta tip
If you're working in the hospitality sector stateside, you're gonna be expecting tips.
So be sound - tip your waiters. Or face their wrath.