Having the best summer of their student lives
With their JI visas in their pockets, two students ventured to the US for summer jobs and found a new world of experiences
AOIBHEANN HODGINS has just finished her second year studying music in DIT’s Conservatory of Music and Drama. She’s working in Disney World, Florida
“I’m working in Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. I’m pretty lucky as I get to be indoors, with the air conditioning, greeting guests. My job involves welcoming them to the castle and calling their names when their table is ready, although soon I’m hoping to audition for as a character performer.
“All the guests love that I’m from Ireland and of course, many of them claim to be from Ireland too.
“Ever since I was three years old I’ve wanted to work for Disney and I love the US so I decided to give it a go this year. It becomes so much harder to get a visa after you leave college so why waste a summer in rainy Ireland?
“I applied to do this through a company called Yummy Jobs and I was just delighted when the email came telling me I got the job. It’s unusual for a J1 and I travelled by myself though I ended up bumping in to other participants on my connecting flight from Gatwick.
“I live in Vista Way apartments, which are provided for all Disney’s college programme participants, for $83 a week. Six of us are sharing. The apartment complex includes two pools, a basketball court, volleyball court, tennis court, a gym, internet clubhouse, a place where you can rent DVDs free of charge and a lounge where you can watch TV. Not bad.
“It’s so well-equipped and there’s always something going on from grocery bingo to free breakfasts with the characters. We also have free buses to all four of the Disney theme parks and two of the local malls and the local supermarket, all run by Disney.
“I’ve spent my days off heading to the theme parks or to the mall or I’ve just chilled out at the pool with all of the friends that I have made here. Next week I am going on a trip to Miami which should be a lot of fun.
“They are quite strict on underage drinking and if you are under 21 they will put you in an “under 21” apartment which should be free of drink at all times. You can still go to clubs though and the night life is great as everything is so much cheaper.
“I’ve had so many great experiences. My favourite moment was probably when I saw a little American girl wearing a birthday badge with her name “Aoife” on it. In Disney we have to acknowledge when it’s someone’s birthday so I said, “Happy Birthday Aoife!” She was so shocked and happy that I could say her name properly because she told me that no one could ever say her name right.