Destinations Magazine

2012: My Year In New Jersey

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

2012 was the year of all years, it was amazing, tiring and just a little bit more awesome! I know I recently rounded 2013 into a retrospective blog, but this time last year the thought didn't really cross my mind to look back at my placement year. Let's just say that its all meant to be as the two year anniversary of my flight to Newark airport is fast approaching. I'm ready to bring Britney Bitch back for one more time! 

2012: My Year In New JerseyArriving into Newark was an experience that I'll never forget! The sirens of the speeding police cars put the fear in me as me and my fellow interns were driven from the airport along Broad Street, Downtown Newark! I soon forgot about that sight and boarded a NJ Transit train to New York's Penn Station for my first experience of Times Square to make the most of our first real day in the city. Not forgetting the real reason I made it to Newark, New Jersey, I had been selected to be a Passenger Service Agent for Virgin Atlantic Airways at Newark Liberty International Airport. It would be sometime before I would completely settle in the swing of things at the airport, but I wanted to immerse my senses in every experience possible! I had yet to learn that my new neighbourhood, the Ironbound would serve a hearty portion of Brazilian and Portuguese culture. I had made my first month before I knew it and I had spent the day with Paolo in New York City, trekking around the city on the NYC Subway where we ended up having lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. 

Life in Newark changed me, waking up at 3:00 am in the morning made me value the luxury that is sleep. I had big traveling plans that would have to wait. I donned my new VS uniform with pride, I was learning a job that would unknowingly leave me in good stead for my future endeavors after I graduate from university. I faced my fears at work, but eventually my persona was born! Britney Bitch, a fierce part of my Newark being helped me work my way through the first two quarters of my industrial placement. BB took no prisoners but always keep the passengers best interests at heart, professionalism is definitely her middle name! Shopping at Pathmark was tiresome, the check-out girls were ratchet and very rude! I tell you one grocery shopping trip at Pathmark turned nasty, the check-out assistant demanded me to pay quickly, I was like 'hold up!' No one speaks to Britney Bitch that way, I softly spoke to her 'where is your manager?!' Newark was changing me for sure! 

2012: My Year In New JerseyI decided early on that a visit back to England could wait, I had no commitment other than my family so I was freer than a bird to travel to my hearts content, well within my vacation allowance but that's a story for later on! I kept things local at first with trips to Philadelphia and around New York City to sights like Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty and Greenwich Village. I saw my time in Newark as a chance to see places that I didn't get the chance to during my Disney program in 2011. I worked my shifts but wanted to make the most of my time because what good does it do sitting in your room? Work-wise I wanted to get to know my co-workers, after-all if I was to spend most of my time at work I wanted to make some friendships that would last! I met Paolo and Tom, two fellow interns from Blackpool and Northampton respectively. I classed these guys as 'my boys' we would go for food in the Ironbound, go-karting and eventually embarked on our Las Vegas weekend to celebrate Paolo's 21st birthday! I flew with Southwest Airlines, I won't forget how inebriated I got during that journey but it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip! 

Back to reality I got back into the grind of work at the airport, I had mastered check-in and wanted to be transferred to the Clubhouse but all good things come to those who wait! As the summer rolled in the weather changed from the once chilly temperatures to a sweltering humid mess, how I didn't appreciate the Newark air! But I ventured to Point Pleasant Beach and loved my life on the beach sunning myself in the sun, I was better than the Jersey Shore lot! I reunited with Ritika, my Disney friend so we enjoyed the sights of NYC and several tequila shots a Applebee's. The Obama's were calling me so I booked a super short trip down to the presidential city of Washington, D.C. to see what all the fuss was about. Nothing lasts forever, so it was time for Tom and Paolo to make their sweet goodbyes from Newark back to the UK, I stayed strong when Paolo left for I knew I would of got a slap! But when Tom left I cried like a baby! My boys had gone! Britney Bitch had a mid placement crisis! Ironbound life was a great distraction, I look back and I would love to do my laundry at my local laundromat on the corner of Lafayette and Polk street! I would survive on a small diet of Portuguese barbecue chicken, rice and black beans for I was sporting a barbie doll physique. I was slender!

2012: My Year In New JerseyLet's rewind the clock back to the 24th June 2012, I stood along NYC's Christopher Street in Greenwich Village to see the NYC Pride March 2012. Cyndi Lauper happened to be the Grand Pride Marshal so I guessed girl just wanted to have fun?! As I made my way closer to the edge of the summer I embarked on another memorable trip in September 2012 to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Captured to the left is the vista from the El Yunque Rainforest, I loved it! Old San Juan showed me so much, that break gave me some solace back in my life, I had just missed the birth of my two new cousins so I needed some time to relax to be away from Newark. Puerto Rico cured me! Looking back on random parts of my placement year in Newark I made an effort to see live sports games, firstly with the Superbowl, followed by a basketball game at Newark's Prudential Center, a football match at the New York Red Bulls and a legendary baseball game at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY! 

October beckoned the change of check-in desks and the upcoming opening of a new Clubhouse for Virgin Atlantic at Newark Airport, I had worked as Arrivals Lead at that point and I can say I quite enjoyed that fast paced role. Canada called me in October to a weekend in Toronto, it was a Disney reunion for Alexandra who I worked with in Orlando showed me the sights! Boston showed me a great weekend where I saw the sights and spent two tonight's in a hostel for the first time! I finally bit the bullet by booking a trip home to England, a lovely week was spent at home in Bilston. I was lucky enough to experience the grandeur of Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class cabin for my outbound flight to London Heathrow, seriously its how the other half live! I got to know my new cousins Poppy and Micky, went to Mamma Mia in London with my mom and enjoyed a lovely serving of Major's fish and chips! Back to Newark for one week's work and the opening of a brand new clubhouse, I'll get back to that in a moment. Canada wanted me back for a second time, so I jetted off to Montreal, Quebec for a magical November weekend that happened to be on 22nd birthday! I was ready for the final throw of my industrial placement! 

2012: My Year In New JerseyCaptured to the right is the entrance to the current Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Newark Airport. I always believe that this time was meant to be as I looked forward to every shift working in the new Clubhouse with a higher level of responsibility! BB wanted this! During the November of 2012 the grand opening signified the final chapter of my placement for Virgin Atlantic Airways. My role as a Clubhouse Agent flourished with the encouragement of the fabulous new manager who transformed Newark's Virgin Atlantic Upper Class operation to something that would of never been possible in the previous location. I worked with some beautiful people in that Clubhouse, amongst my favourites I will always be grateful for mornings spent with Fiorella Sanchez! My Clubhouse sister and I welcomed some famous faces into the Clubhouse and ensured their experience was truly Upper Class! Katelyn, Thyciria, Ruth, Nofisa, Sheila, Leah, Valerie, Sharoya and Teaka made my Clubhouse shifts great! I will remain tight lipped about my famous encounters at the Virgin Clubhouse for its trashy to reveal such a detail! BB always knew not to overstep the mark! 

My final few weeks of my industrial placement saw me tone down my cross-country trips for a day down to Baltimore, Maryland! I saw the backdrop to the movie musical Hairspray, so I loved its realness! New York City at Christmas time was amazing, the month of December saw me visit The High Line! New York City had become my place of escape, I would pack my little bag of essentials and hop on the PATH train over to the Empire State of Mind! I had been to a Broadway show back in September, Ricky Martin starred in Evita so I jumped at the chance to book a ticket. I also rubbed shoulders with the Material Girl Madonna at the Yankee Stadium during the U.S leg of her 2012 MDNA Tour! Looking back further I trusted my instinct to find the Jewish Hasidim area of Williamsburg, Brooklyn! It was an experience for sure! But my lasting memory of New York City would have to be my Christmas Eve trip to the Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree lit up in all of its glory! 

2012 .. The year of the Britney Bitch! Joseph Harrison 


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