The J1 was probably one of the best things I’ve done so far during college. I done my J1 in Santa Monica in California. I left in early June and got a great deal with Sayit. They looked after pretty much everything from the flights to the visa to helping with jobs. So I didn’t have a job or accommodation before I went. When I arrived I went for a walk down the famous Santa Monica Pier where there’s loads of places to eat, amusements and beautiful scenery. Very busy spot! I went into a restaurant called Bubba Gumps Shrimp and asked if they were hiring, after a quick interview I had the job! Uniform was hilarious but the craic was brilliant! Being a waiter over in the likes of America is great because you earn unreal money on tips!
I got sorted with accommodation around 15 minutes from the main Santa Monica area, I’ll lived on a street called S.Bentley Avenue. It was really nice, quiet and safe and easy access to public transport and shops. It was a two bed apartment and with the amount of us staying there it worked out at just over $300 month each which was super for the location! LA is not a place to be if funds are low. I remember having to walking 50mins home in the early days as I hadn’t money for a bus! Luckily my paycheque cleared!
Beverly Hills was around a 10 minute walk from my apartment, it’s well worth a visit to see the luxuriousness of the stores, the cars and of course the people. You can just smell the money off of people. It’s a different world I’ll tell you! You’d want to have at least a grand with you heading out just so you can secure housing etc and get food.
My tops things to do in LA on a J1
- Cycle to Venice Beach
I hired a bike at the pier in S. Monica, it was $20 for the day and you have to leave a form of ID with them. I cycled down as far as Maria Del Rey. It’s such cool experience to do this trust me. Stop off in Venice and explore the shops and the skate parks, it’s also home to the famous muscle beach gym! You’ll see some seriously buff people down there!
2. Hike Runyon Canyon
You have to go to Runyon canyon if you’re J1ing in LA. It’s a tough hike but the views from the top are incredible. You’ll see the whole of LA and the Hollywood sign. To get a great view of the sign make sure to go up the Observatory route. You’ll be sure to see a celebrity or two on your way! It’s where they all work out and post it to the instagrams later!
I met some friends which were American, they brought me to Mailbu for a day and it was unbelievable. The beach was so clean and not as busy at the one in Santa Monica. We played volleyball and caught some waves. It was amazing. After spending the day at the beach we went for a Korean BBQ, I had never tried this before but it was so good. It was $10 each nd all you can eat, the cool thing was, they bring you out the meat raw and you cook it yourself and the table. It was such cool experience. You’ll find it in the link here. http://quarterskbbq.com
4. Marina Del Rey
This is home to one of the largest Marina’s in the world. It is simply beautiful. They have one of the best Cheesecake Factory restaurants there too. Make sure to get a table outside! I hired a kayak and paddled all around the marina, the cool thing is there are so many huge sea lions in that areas and they literacy swim right up beside you! The yachts are a must see!
5. Baseball Game
This is something I never got to go to and it disappoints me so much. Try and go to one soon enough after you arrive, that’s when all the good games are on.
6. Frat Party
If you go on a J1 and you don’t attend a frat party then you haven’t done a J1. This is the ultimate most american thing I done when I was there. The houses are huge and the parties are insane! Most of the parties I went to were in Westwood, close to UCLA. You will literally feel as though you’d in a movie, Old School and Superbad to be precise!
This is amazing. The college is literally humongous. Ive never seen sports fields or tracks in a college like this one. Go through the building and buy something from the college campus store. It’s cool to have something with UCLA on it. I bough a tee and it cost around $30.
A party bus leaves Westwood every Friday night and goes to Hollywood. It’s usually $9 pp and you get vodka on the bus, free into the club and a VIP area with bottles of Vodka. If you want a contact drop me a mail. It’s all over 21s so be aware of that, they’re very strict.
9. Road trip to Sin City
This was one of my favourite memories of the J1. I rented a car with 5 friends and we drove from Santa Monica to Las Vegas. We travelled part of the infamous Route 66 on our way. It took roughly 4.5 hrs but it was great craic on the way. Stop off at In ‘N Out Burger on your way! Class! We all got tickets for Calvin Harris in Wet Republic, it was by far one of the most insane parties I’ve ever been to. The pool was FULL!!! The heat was insane and the music and atmosphere was electric. It literally felt like a private party with Calvin himself, the stage is right beside the pool. The drinks are super expensive at Wet Republic so I suggest you have a nice drink before you go in! A bottle of beer was $20 and a large glass of Vodka with a splash was $40! Get on the guest list for the clubs in vegas as you’ll most likely get in for free this way. Promoters will always be looking for groups of people to get in. Again if you want any contacts, mail me.
10. Dockweiler Beach
Finally, this one had to make the list! Dockweiler is home to the beach of bonfires. We all spent the day here for my birthday and it was incredible. We bought loads of food & drink in Walmart and headed straight for the first bonfire we could see. It was the best craic. We played the guitar, played football and drank watching the sun go down. It was hands down one of the coolest things I done on the J1 and not many people know about it. What was really cool is its located right beside LAX so the planes were literally taking off right over our heads. You have to see it to believe it.
So that’s my Top 10 for a J1 in Cali. There’s SO much more we did but these are one’s I think everyone would love.
- In ‘N Out Burger
- Cheesecake Factory
- Café Crepe, on third street promenade
- Fat Sal’s in Westwood
- Pink Berry Froyo
- Bubba Gump Shrimp, Santa Monica Pier
- Pier Burger, Santa Monica Pier
- Abercrombie & Fitch, 3rd Street
- Café Crepe, 3rd Street
- Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier
- Westwood area, check out frat houses, they usually take people during the summer when people go home from college.
- South Bentley Ave
From July – Sept there are free concerts every Thursday night at the pier. It’s well worth a trip down to check out the artists. They start from 7-10pm.