Danielle Stephens has been sharing her J1 experience over the summer. In the final part of the series, she writes about meeting her dad in NYC and taking a helicopter over Manhattan

I just finished my first day back at college, I’m rotten with a head cold and I’m still wearing my jacket indoors sometimes because I’m so cold. And people ask me why I’m not happy to be back?

My final week in New York saw my companion return home a week before me and my dad fly out to visit. I spent my last week staying in the New York Loft Hostel just outside Williamsburg in Brooklyn. There’s just a smidge of a difference between the people living in that area than what I was used to in the Bronx. A lot of them wore knee-high woollen socks in 32-degree heat.

Meeting dad…hungover

My dad isn’t a normal dad, to put it nicely. When I met him on the Saturday morning, our first job was to hit a pub so daddy dearest could have a cure from his shenanigans the day before. He was staying with a mate in Connecticut and he had consumed a fair few Coronas.

We had kept in touch on Skype over the summer, but only for five minutes here and there to make sure the other one was still alive. This left us with quite a bit to catch up on. We managed to walk the entire perimeter of Central Park, chatting about the various things that had gone on during the summer.

I brought him to the restaurant where I had been working for the summer. Unfortunately, his stomach was louder than his brain and the poor man ended up eating too much food.

We took a break from each other on the Sunday and it was my turn to arrive with a nice little hangover on the Monday morning. Dad decided that he wanted to do one of the bus tours, which had three different loops, the Brooklyn loop, the Uptown loop and the Downtown loop.

To be honest, it suited me down to the ground because while the father got his fix of Manhattan and some interesting information to go with it, I was able to sleep off that rather annoying headache.

Golf and nachos

Being the sports fanatics that we are, we asked the tour guide the best place to go and watch the US Open final and he suggested Blondies. I was starting to get the munchies as well so I was just happy that the sports bar sold nachos and cheese.

Dad was fascinated with the American’s tradition of Happy Hour and he enjoyed the couple of freebies he got before the 7 pm mark. We had great craic watching the final, despite our guy Djokovic losing in the end. The atmosphere in the place was great due to the fact that Monday night football had just returned.

The next morning I woke to a text from dad asking if I wanted to take a helicopter ride around Manhattan… “Oh let me think about that for a second”. So off we went, soaring around looking down at the Manhattan skyline. If there was ever one moment of the trip where I could adamantly say that I didn’t want to come home, it was that one right there.


After that, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge, during which my father nearly melted from the heat; he really can’t handle any other climate but the Irish one.

Dad did well on my last day to put up with me, this big black cloud of misery that was moping and whining about having to go home. I brought him to see Coney Island; that was more so that I could say goodbye to the beach.

The end

And that was it, my J1 was finished and I had to go home. I like to think that New York was trying to keep me from leaving, delaying the flight by an hour due to storms.

I’m not going to exaggerate and say I loved every moment of my trip. I lived there for three months; that would be unrealistic. However, I know 100% that I will move there after my degree and that I would live there for a huge chunk of my life.

It mightn’t be as magical as it would have been if I was just a tourist, seeing the big lights for a couple of days. But it had the impact on me that I had hoped it would. I experienced a lot, I learned a lot and as some people have said to me, if I wasn’t sad about coming home, it wouldn’t have said much about the trip.

The campus.ie team would like to say a very special thanks to Danielle for sharing her J1 experience with us over the summer!