2012: My Year In New Jersey!

2012 was the year! It was amazing, tiring and just a little bit more awesome! 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. It's all meant to be as the two year anniversary of my flight to Newark airport is fast approaching. Newark, you'll never me stop from loving you, B!

Arriving in 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! Soon after I boarded a NJ Transit train to NY 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 Services Agent for Virgin Atlantic Airways at Newark Liberty International Airport. It would be sometime before I would completely settle into the swing of things at the airport. 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! I spent the day with Paolo going about the city on the NYC Subway then we had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. Britt!

Life in Newark changed me, waking up at 3:00 am in the morning made me value the luxury that was definitely sleep. I had big travelling 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 endeavours after I graduate from university. I faced my fears at work, 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 was definitely her middle name! Shopping at Pathmark was tiring, the check-out girls were ratchet! 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!' Newark was changing me! No one talks to BB that way! I had to be fierce in Newark because some people were not friendly!

A visit back to England could wait, I had no commitment so I travelled to my hearts content, well within my vacation allowance! 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. My time in Newark was 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? 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! I met Paolo and Tom, two fellow interns from Blackpool and Northampton. I classed these guys as 'my boys' we would go for food in the Ironbound and eventually embarked on our Las Vegas weekend to celebrate Paolo's 21st birthday! Southwest Airlines served me with a journey to remember! It was so mad!

I got into the grind at the airport, I mastered check-in and wanted to be transferred to Clubhouse! As the summer rolled in the weather changed from the chilly temperatures to a sweltering humid mess, how I didn't appreciate the Newark air! I chilled at 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, we enjoyed the sights of NYC and several tequila shots a Applebee's. I booked a super short trip down to the presidential city of Washington, D.C. Nothing lasts forever, it was time for Tom and Paolo to make their sweet goodbyes from EWR, I stayed strong when Paolo left, I knew I would have gotten a slap! When Tom left I cried like a baby! BB had a mid placement crisis! Ironbound life was a great distraction, I loved to do my laundry at the laundromat on the corner of Lafayette & Polk St! I survived on a diet of barbecue chicken, rice and black beans! So, so good! 

Rewinding 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 was 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! Old San Juan showed me so much, that break gave me some solace back in my life. I missed the births of my two new cousins so I needed to relax to be away from work. 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 in Harrison. The Yankees played a memorable game!

October brought new 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 booked a trip home to England, a lovely week was spent at home in Bilston. I experienced Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class cabin for my outbound flight to LHR, 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 mum and enjoyed a serving of Major's fish and chips! Back to Newark for one week's work and the opening of a brand new clubhouse! I flew to Montreal for a great weekend on my 22nd birthday! Well what happened, that's all a secret really!

To the right is the entrance to the current Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at EWR. I always believed that this time was meant to be because I looked forward to every shift working in the new Clubhouse as a number one! The grand opening signified the final chapter of my placement at Virgin Atlantic. My role as a Clubhouse Agent grew with the encouragement of the fabulous new manager who transformed EWR's Virgin Atlantic Upper Class operation to something that would have never been possible in the previous location. I worked with truly beautiful people in that Clubhouse, amongst my favourites I will always be grateful for Fiorella Sanchez! My Clubhouse sister and I welcomed some famous faces into the Clubhouse, ensuring their experience were always Upper Class! My Clubhouse angels made my shifts working with Thyciria, and Ruth and the rest of the dream team! I also loved working with Jake, he's my top Clubhouse star!

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! 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 Hasidic 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 for the Christmas tree shined bright. I will return one day soon! 

2012... Britney's Year! 

Joseph Harrison 


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