Journalism student Danielle Stephens is livin' the dream in the US for the summer. Follow her J-1 journey here on Campus.ie!

A good tip for when you’re preparing for a three month trip is don’t leave it until the day before to pack. Even starting two days prior to your departure gives you the chance to notice if you’ve forgotten something or don’t have something that you need.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take my own advice and I decided that getting a base tan before flying over was more important than checking if I had all the right documentation. Luckily, customs didn’t ask for that one document that I didn’t have. But still, I wouldn’t suggest living on the edge in this instance.

The only time I felt the nerves was when I was en route to the airport in the taxi. For 30 minutes, every possible disastrous situation was going through my head. However, once I hit the spaceship-looking Terminal 2 all the “what-ifs” disappeared.

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when you’re skipped at the check-in desk by former Westlife singer, Brian McFadden and former World Boxing featherweight champion, Barry McGuigan. It got even more star-studded when we saw that actor Colm Meaney was on our flight to London.

By the time you’ve said goodbye to everyone for the hundredth time, you’re ready to leave the country running. When a simple “see you at the end of the summer” turns into an ending from a motion picture, you know you’ve gone too far.

Speaking of London, stopovers do nothing but kill the mood. A six-hour stint in Heathrow just brought on a bout of tiredness and I forgot why I was excited. I warn you though, don’t eat your boredom away by hitting every restaurant in the place – it’s not a long-term solution.

I would never hurt British Airways’ reputation by comparing them to Ryanair, but they do have their pitfalls. I did not appreciate the airline getting my hopes up by making us walk through the luxurious first class section of the plane to the not-so-luxurious coach section.

This isn’t their fault per se, but it’s not great when you get stuck in the middle seat, where you have no control over the window. On top of that, there is the rigmarole of interrupting a bemused Jewish woman – who has no problem stinking out the place with her specialised salted beef – when you have to go to the toilet.

On the plus side, a six-and-a-half hour flight gives you the chance to reawaken the cinema fan within. To be fair, the airline offers you a good range of movies that you can keep yourself occupied with. Bring your own earphones for the flight because the ones that the airline gives you aren’t great for volume control.

Add in the stereotypical child that actually kicks the back of your seat and you have yourself a pissed off passenger. It was perfectly understandable that the girl I was travelling with had resorted to listening to the Well-Being Channel in order to try and sleep.

For those travelling to New York, the most exciting part of the trip was in the last 30 minutes, when you fly over Long Island. I was like a bold child looking out the window at the ridiculously long beach. The best bit of advice I can give is to follow the “Your Journey Map” on the screen; it makes it all that more exciting.

When you get to customs, whatever you do, don’t challenge yourself to make the customs worker smile. It’s not as smart as you originally thought. If you followed all of that, then you've successfully made it into America.