Anyone I talk to can figure out in a few minutes how much I love UF and Gainesville. The school spirit, the small town charm, the campus. There are times where I feel like my identity as a Gator is an inescapable part of me, and I cherish it. However, I realized this year that my identity as a Miamian has become just as big a part of who I am. While I trudged through high school indifferent to my hometown, moving away has given me clarity on what I love about it.
1. The beach
While Gainesville offers lots of natural beauty with Ginnie Springs and Devil’s Den, sometimes you just want the sand between your toes and a good tan. Whether you’re looking for a lively crowd on South Beach or a quieter retreat like Key Biscayne, slipping on your bikini and heading to the ocean is a convenient, no-stress task.
2. The diversity
You get used to hearing Spanish everywhere you go in Miami, and you learn to pick up the difference in accents even if you don’t speak it. Don’t even get me started on how to greet people. One kiss on the cheek? Two? You can never be sure! But being surrounded by a range of cultures can be a really enriching experience. Plus, you can find great authentic restaurants for any cuisine!
3. The hustle and bustle
As with any big city, the honks of cars and the commotion of nightlife become as soothing and familiar as birds chirping in the morning. You’ll never run out of things to do or new places to visit (I recommend Viscaya and Wynwood to any future tourists!). Looking for an event? Miami’s got you covered. Hey, Pitbull might even be in town!
4. The fashion
A jean skirt and blouse constitute a party outfit in Gainesville, but upon returning to Miami, you have to step up your fashion game. Striding past off-duty models and pricey nightclubs would make anyone dress to the nines. Little black dresses, palazzo pants, designer brands. Miami malls are top notch and have got you covered for your wardrobe in the magic city.
5. The memories
Most of all, the best part of growing up in Miami is the memories you hold dear from your time there. Each location holds meaning for a different experience, good or bad.
Hometowns shape who you are, and I know I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.