Florida, commonly referred to as the sweaty underarm of the U.S., is known for its far-from-average ways of life. No matter where you go, everything is just a bit peculiar. Is that just part of the charm? Who knows. But South Florida has a specific spunk that makes it a spectacle. Whether you’re fresh off the plane from the Northeast or a SoFlo local, take some time to read up on the local way of life. By the time you’re finished, not only will you be better equipped to survive South Florida, but we will also let you pawn off these jokes as your own in social situations — free of charge.
If you’re not familiar with the Miami area, it can be a tough transition regardless of where you come from. Miami can be a shock to your senses if you’re from the middle of nowhere. Even if you are from a bustling city, Miami has far too many quirks in comparison with other metropolitan areas.
Wherever you’re from, you have probably heard of the infamous “Florida man” stereotype. Essentially, it’s a running joke based on the many different news reports covering whatever wild crime someone in Florida has committed. Don’t believe me? Type “Florida Man” plus your birthdate in the Google search bar. The state is weird, and here at the University of Miami, we find ourselves in our own pocket of the outlandishness.
We might not have as many swamps or rednecks as Northern Florida, but what SoFlo lacks in sun-drenched charisma, we make up for in exotic charm.
The Melting Pot
Much like New York City, South Florida is a melting pot of cultures. However, the pot was left to rot in a hot minivan whose entire floor was covered in crumbs and old fast-food containers. While Northerners come down here to flee from the cold weather and catch a break from the uptight energy, people from the Caribbean flee their own countries for the chance at a better life, if you could even consider the U.S. as better.
That’s just scratching the surface. It’s gotten to a point where different groups have created small communities around South Florida, making them almost an extension of where they came from. Doral — better known as “Doralzuela” — has the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S., while Little Santo Domingo and Little Havana are both named after the respective cities their most of their populations originate from. It’s little slices of different countries all within driving distance. It’s like Epcot but, instead of magic, there’s traffic and one too many people on the road who shouldn’t be legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle.
South Florida’s real kicker is the tourist destinations, with Brickell and Wynwood being two of the best examples. Surrounded by smaller communities, these two lively neighborhoods pride themselves on being staples of SoFlo culture. We hate to break it to them: they’re anything but.
Their residents often fall into one of the major transplant subgroups: Northerners. We get it. they’re loud, obnoxious, and make themselves comfortable real quick. They’re like the friend who comes over to your house uninvited, raiding your pantry as they overstay their welcome.
It’s areas such as these where tri-state girlies flock to for a spontaneous Tuesday night outing, because who said you can only go on the weekend? Everyone knows to get a feel for the rich culture and history of South Florida, you need to go and drop upwards of a grand at Sexy Fish and tell everyone about it. What’s the point of going to an aesthetic, overpriced restaurant if you don’t excessively post about it on Instagram?
Despite the many, many differences between everyone who calls SoFlo home, there is some semblance of peace. It’s like the residents are all siblings, constantly picking at each other on the same boat until the end of time, even if said boat is some shady promoter’s yacht.
Ways of Life
If you thought the people of SoFlo were “loco,” what we do down here will blow it all out of the water. What people in South Florida do, or, in some cases never do, is what gives the region its distinguishable charm.
It seems everyone down here just loves to talk, and with all that talking comes the “regional dialect“ of SoFlo. Spanglish runs rampant in Miami and has been adopted by both English and Spanish speakers. Whether it’s a native to the area who’s been around Spanglish for most of their life, or a girl from Atlantic City, N.J. who has only spent one year down here, seemingly everyone has found their own unique way to incorporate common Miami slang such as “pero like,” “oye” and “irregardless” into their everyday vernacular.
To get around, there are some forms of public transport, but they don’t always cut it, even if Miami-Dade County swears they’ll make it better. So if you’re trying to go anywhere, driving — on rare occasions when you’re not sitting in dead-stop traffic — is your best bet to get anywhere relatively on time.
However, getting behind the wheel here isn’t for the faint of heart. Driving on U.S. 1 is akin to Formula One and Mario Kart having a hellish baby. With blatant disregard for the rules of the road being an everyday occurrence, people continuously switch lanes as if no one else existed. Don’t even worry about using your blinker because it’s like Florida cars don’t have them installed. Whichever driving school all these Floridians attended; we would like to speak to your manager.
We all take our sports very seriously here. The Dolphins and Hurricanes both play at the sequestered Hard Rock Stadium, where you are guaranteed to either get lost in the parking lot or stranded altogether. At least Miami FC is garnering a lot of new fans now that Messi has joined its ranks.
These teams have dedicated fan bases who will swear by these teams until death, even when they suck. ’Canes fans showed up to every football last season practically knowing the team would get creamed each time. Messi is a great addition to the soccer team and all, but it’s like putting makeup on a pig. Just because it looks nice does not mean it will do anything substantial.
The weather down here can be described as what it might feel like to be a forgotten PB&J in a kid’s lunchbox. It’s wet and moist, and God only knows what might happen next.
You can never trust the forecast because rain or shine, there is a possibility for anything. The weather here can be equated to having a sister: it can be a beautiful sunny day with a sudden five-minute tropical storm that passes by like nothing happened. Once you forget your umbrella at home, you never make that mistake again.
Even the hurricanes we get follow the same metric. In 2017, we had classes canceled and businesses shut down in preparation for Irma, but it was no different than a normal Miami rainstorm. We’ve had stronger winds on a random Wednesday, but we didn’t miss class for that.
The weather has become such a laughable event that hurricane parties are something people dream of attending. For a time, Publix got in on the joke, selling Hurricane themed cakes so people would come into their store for something besides a pub-sub.
Our basketball team is not called the Miami Heat for nothing; the heat is its own antagonistic monster entirely. What’s even better is how people deal with it. Trying to dress in perfect accordance with the weather here is hard, so people tend to go all in with what they’re wearing. A swimsuit with the idea of a cover-up to class, or a sweat-stained Balenciaga long sleeve and pants in 90 F weather. It’s as if everyone’s Sims were let loose on the streets of Coral Gables.
At the end of the day, minus Miami being underwater in 50 years, South Florida is not changing anytime soon, so you can either take it or leave it. Come the winter months, just remember to rub the warm weather in everyone’s faces when you go back home, it’s part of the fun.
words_sal puma. design_quinn templewood.
This article was published in Distraction’s Fall 2023 print issue.
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