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J1 was summer of my life, I partied hard but worked six days a week’

Vogue Williams
Vogue Williams

The most terrible tragedy occurred last Tuesday in the student town of Berkeley, California.

Six Irish students were killed. Another seven remain in hospital with serious injuries. 

The students on their J1 visa were looking forward to the summer of their lives after a tough year in college, but it was abruptly ended in a horrific way. 

Many families have been torn apart by this tragedy and many young lives have been wasted. 

As a nation, we are devastated by the news, but the New York Times found this the perfect opportunity to discuss everything that is wrong with the Irish J1 students.

Their journalist branded them an embarrassment to Ireland in an article entitled ‘Deaths of Irish Students in Berkeley Balcony Collapse Cast Pall on Program’.

It was such a stereotype and such an inappropriate time to discuss it.

I would have expected the article to prioritise the loss of young lives rather than dwell on what other students may have previously gotten up to over the years. 

It really got me thinking about the drunken, lairy stereotype that seems to follow Irish people wherever we go, and how we sometimes feed into it ourselves.

Of course there have been Irish people that have been in trouble abroad, but name one nation that hasn’t had this issue?

The J1 students work hard all year in college and then travel to America for a new experience and for the chance to work abroad.  

I went on a J1 when I was 20 and it was the greatest summer of my life. I worked six days a week and I most definitely partied too, but no more than any other American around me. 

I once competed in a show called Dancing with the Stars in Australia. I can’t really dance, so I didn’t get too far in the competition and got the boot in week four.

After spending 10 weeks training, I decided to have lots of drinks when I got kicked off and ended up missing one TV interview.

Nothing was ever said about this in Australia because I did everything else that was required of me, but I remember the Irish press went mad, telling me I was giving Ireland a bad name.

I gave Ireland a bad name because I missed one interview? It’s evidently a touchy subject at home too. God forbid one of our own embarrasses us. 

I don’t feel embarrassed, nor do I really care what anyone thinks of the Irish. It’s only when a moron writes a ridiculous and unfair article that I really feel annoyed.

The Irish are an incredibly hard-working nation and we are great fun to boot, so who cares if we like the odd drink.

I hope the journalists involved feel ashamed and embarrassed and shame on the paper for publishing such insensitive rubbish.