Journalism student Danielle Stephens is livin' the dream in the US for the summer. Follow her J1 journey here on!

I happened to be in the States for the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans, the Fourth of July. I was all geared up to see the city of New York explode with festive patriots swarming the city.

I was expecting to see smiles on everyone’s faces and basically a gigantic party for the holiday weekend. I was disappointed to say the least.

Understandably, I was raging that I was put down to work a double shift on July 4, which meant that I didn’t get to see, well, anything.  However, before work I sat in Bryant Park for an hour, on a really nice day and to be honest it could’ve been any other day.


I played up the whole “Happy Fourth of July guys!!” when a customer would come in, to evoke some sort of reaction that would hopefully lead to a juicy tip. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it just fell flat.

Tourists seemed to have a higher level of excitement towards the whole day than the Americans themselves.

At around 6 p.m. the restaurant was full and it continued to be like this until 9 p.m. Everyone was nabbing some dinner before the big fireworks display down on the river. Jealous wasn’t even the word.

At 9 p.m. the place emptied except for two couples. These couples both came out to eat dinner in the 20 minute gap that there was a place to eat. I remember thinking that this was smart, but sort of lazy for the day that was in it.


The fireworks started and due to the fact that we were only three blocks over from the display, it sounded like a war scene going on over head.

The curiosity got the better of me and I asked if I could duck out just to see the fireworks for a minute. Nobody else working that day was American and they had little interest in the American celebrations, so they let me go.

I stood at the top of 42nd on 9th for 10 minutes and for the first time that whole day, I felt like something unusual was happening in the city. People were running down to try and see it and everyone was laughing and giddy because the display was pretty spectacular. Bring out the fireworks and the whole mood changes.

I was in work for a lot of the weekend, but I managed to get to the beach on Coney Island on Monday. I had seen scores of people in their swimsuits and with their giant whale-shaped floats heading for the beach over the weekend. I was looking forward to chilling in the sun for a couple of hours after slogging it in work.


As unrealistic as it sounds, I genuinely feel like screaming at my past self on Sunday morning. Just because I don’t get burnt in Ireland doesn’t mean I’m invincible here. I was so concerned with getting sand on my hands that I decided my feet could go without sun-cream.

I can’t begin to explain how wrong I was. The rest of my body had a nice pink hue, which has since turned. My feet, on the other hand, are redder than the Chinese flag and have blisters that are making it painstakingly hard to walk.

If anything came from this Fourth of July weekend it’s that, for God sake put sun cream on - EVERYWHERE.

The burnt feet in question. Thanks for sharing with us, Danielle! - Conor