Something new

A summer in New York is the perfect opportunity to face your fears, open your mind and try new things. I am happy to say that my J1 has allowed me to do all of these things.

A summer in New York is the perfect opportunity to face your fears, open your mind and try new things. I am happy to say that my J1 has allowed me to do all of these things.

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am not the bravest person in the world. Rollercoasters have always terrified me, so I was never too adventurous in theme parks. That is, until I went to Coney Island last week.

Luna Park in Coney Island is a fantastic theme park in the south of Brooklyn, just four subway stops from where I am living. With a great variety of rides, it is fun for all the family.

Convinced that I was just going on one or two small rides, I was happy to accompany my friend Catherine, who loves amusements. Little did I know I would soon be flung upside down, round and round and (what felt like) inside out.

It was a feeling like no other: half petrified, half elated. Why had I not tried this sooner?

I can’t wait to have a go on the new rollercoaster at Tayto Park when I get home.

This exciting feeling has also translated to the new foods I am eating: mangos, salmon, tomato bisque. I had never tried these foods before last month but now I know what all the fuss is about.

I was quite apprehensive about the food I would be eating in America. With my very serious peanut allergy, I knew I had to be alert 24/7 about what was going into my meals.

It gets terribly annoying mentioning to every waiter that my food has to be completely nut-free, but better safe than sorry. I even bought an extra EpiPen to bring with me as a backup in case I passed out and my dear friend Catherine would have to come to my aid.

It does help that many of my meals are provided by my the great chefs of The Bluebell Café, my place of work for the summer.

The Bluebell is a delightful place to work and dine in. The food is exquisite, my co-workers are so friendly and hardworking, the décor is beautiful and the regular customers are simply fascinating.

Whether you’re looking for an enormous stack of blueberry pancakes, crispy fried calamari, the trio of beef sliders or just a pot of Lyons Tea, this café has it all.

The food on the weekend brunch menu is so delectable, there is a constant queue right out the door all day Saturday and Sunday. The word hectic does not even begin to describe the atmosphere.

The customers are always intrigued by my accent and my orange hair and very often comment on both. I couldn’t pass as an American even if I tried.

The giving and receiving of tips is something I am still struggling to get used to, although it is a social norm in the States. It certainly explains why the workers in American restaurants are extremely friendly.

A J1 really helps you to grow as a person. It has only been a month and I already feel more mature, something I did not expect to happen.

It is so different from moving away to college for the first time. Yes, you’re moving out of home but most of the time you are just a McGinley or Feda bus journey away.

The J1 forces you to fend for yourself because you really have no other option. With this newfound freedom comes newfound responsibility and that can be difficult to come to terms with.

Terrifying as that may be, it’s also quite thrilling and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.