Student Issues

J1 diary – bye, bye bronx. hello safety

It mightn’t seem as exciting as other things that have happened me on this trip, but something amazing happened this week – we moved out of the Bronx.

Many J1 students stay in Woodlawn, which is an area in the Bronx. However, due to the vast number of Irish living there it doesn’t have a bad reputation. I wouldn’t be doing this J1 diary justice if I didn’t warn people now NOT to stay in the Bronx.

I know I’ll meet the usual “you’re just generalising” and “not all places in the Bronx are that bad”, but I’m not backing down, it’s a horrible place for an out-of-towner to stay. One day, I watched as a newscaster for a Bronx network station announced that the Bronx was deemed to be the friendliest borough.

In my most subtle of ways, I asked “Are you joking me?” in a crowded Bronx deli. I won’t be made feel bad about speaking the truth about the place because there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t hate walking from my apartment on Arthur Avenue to the subway on the Fordham road.

Ironically, the street Arthur Avenue was lovely and is referred to as the Little Italy of the Bronx. Unfortunately, it was impossible to stay on that one street. This meant we had to walk through the land of discrimination just to get into Manhattan.


I have always been disgusted with racism. Admittedly, I always naively associated it with the discrimination of black people, but this summer my roommate and I were the targets of racist slurs and we were constantly reminded that we were different.

It was never comfortable to walk through the streets of Fordham. A lot of it had to do with the men and their atrocious pick-up lines; a lot of it had to with the stares (glares) we used to get on that 20-minute walk.

I would have mistaken it for paranoia if I hadn’t been told on a couple of occasions that “I know you’re not from here” and that I was just a “stupid white b*tch” etc. Luckily, the rest of New York made up for the nightmare that was the Bronx, but it’ll be a while before I forget how rotten it felt trying to make my way to a stupid train.


Anyway, the day came; we were heading for Queens and nothing was going to ruin this day. Well, to start if you’re going to be lugging 25kgs of stuff from one borough to another using the subway, get a proper suitcase.

After having to throw away our suitcases because of the bed bug incident I decided (in one of my genius moments) to by a $40 case in a 99c store. Don’t worry – I’m not looking for sympathy. By the time I had reached the half-way point of my destination, the rubber on the wheels had burnt off and I was basically carrying 25kgs of dead weight to Queens.

Despite this (and my aching arms), we wanted to celebrate our move with a couple of drinks in the house we’re staying after a quick bite in Dunkin’ Donuts. Of course, we didn’t take into account knocking over the bag with the drink and smashing a two litre bottle of Bud Light all over the floor.

If people in Jamaica, Queens didn’t know the about Irish-alcoholic stereotype before, they certainly learnt it then.

Even cut feet from smashed beer bottle glass and a fair amount of embarrassment couldn’t deter us from celebrating our survival of Fordham. On top of that, I bought a new iPhone and I feel like I’ve recovered a lost limb. This week was epic.