Adventure America on a J1 Visa
In summer of 2017 I was lucky enough to get to explore the United States on a J1 Visa!
This is possibility the biggest adventure of my life so far. I spent 3 months (and a week) working and travelling throughout the United States 🇺🇸 and I did the whole ‘camp America’ thing with an amazing company called AmeriCamp!
What is a J1 Visa?
So, a J1 Visa is a Cultural Exchange Visa. It allows people to participate in work and study based exchange programs. I feel like the most common way to obtain a J1 Visa is by working at a Summer Camp but you you can also work at Disney World and other tourist spots with jobs in Hospitality and casual summer work just to name a few. *You may need to be a student or recent graduate with some J1 visa programmes.*
Why did I choose to do AmeriCamp? The Application Process
It was around March last year. I was sick of my part time job and knew I didn’t want to spend my summer just working constantly. (Even though my job is actually pretty cool at times). So I started my application to AmeriCamp, I actually missed the deadline for applications. (Sorry guys!) but they still accepted me. I actually made the whole application process way more stressful than it needed to be. So if anyone is thinking about applying, just do it! Don’t waste any time and most importantly don’t leave it to the last minute like me.
Fast forward to May 2017, my application was finally transited to the US for all of the camp directors to see. Within 2 weeks, I was offered a role as a general counsellor at a Girl Scout camp! I don’t think I can explain how excited I was when I was finally #plaACed. However the excitement didn’t last long because it quickly dawned on me that I only had 2 weeks before I was due to arrive in Chicago. I hadn’t applied for my J1 visa, I hadn’t quit my job here at home, I needed to book flights, get a police check done just to name a few.
I’m not going to lie, it was a very stressful 2 weeks but I managed to get everything done (just about) and on June 2nd 2017, I arrived in the Windy City!
3 Months in America
Now I’m going to try and keep this brief for now but I’ll definitely write some more detailed posts in the future about camp life and travelling the US!
My summer camp was located in Wisconsin. I was about 20 minutes from Lake Geneva and around an hour and a half from Chicago. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere and was a really rustic summer camp.
I worked at Camp from the 4th of June through until the 13th August. We had a long weekend off for July 4th and most weekends off throughout the camp season. On our days off we visited Six Flags Great America (has be one of my fave theme parks ever), Wisconsin Dells, Lake Geneva and Chicago. Some weekends it would be more relaxing and we’d hit up Walmart and watch films in the staff lounge.
On August 14th, I travelled to New Orleans with two of my Australian friends from camp and started off my 4 weeks of travelling the United States. Over these 4 weeks I visited New Orleans, Boston, I went back to Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. During this 4 weeks I was also crazy enough to travel from Chicago to San Francisco via Amtrak train. It took 54 hours but the views you got from the train were worth it 100%.
On September 9th, I made my way to LAX to start the long journey back home.
I honestly can say I had the summer of a lifetime! If it’s something you’re interested in doing, do not hesitate because I promise you, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make! The AmeriCamp team are the most helpful bunch of people you’ll ever meet and you make so many friends and memories along the way.
If you need some advice about how to keep your camp or J1 visa friendships alive, check out my post here!
If you’re interested in finding out more about AmeriCamp, you can find me on Twitter @LauraAmeriCamp and I’m happy to answer any questions there!
Thank you for reading! Hope I didn’t bore you all too much.
Laura – CountryGirlExplores x