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THE HATER'S TRAVEL GUIDE: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (PART TWO)

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PARTY IN THE CITY WHERE THE MOSQUITO IS THE APEX PREDATOR

Editor's Note: I spent three years in South Florida, the last year about 10 - 90 minutes from Florida International's campus depending on the traffic. I have plenty of good things to say about the area, none of which I'm going to be mentioning in this piece. Go Canes.

It's football season and that means it's time for the HATER'S TRAVEL GUIDE. Thanks to this being a home-and-home-and-home-and-home, we get the honor and privilege of dunking on America's most flaccid state four times. Last year we spent last year ragging mostly on the football team, this year I'M COMING FOR THE WHOLE CITY BOROUGH CENSUS-DESIGNATED PLACE.

WHERE IS FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL?

Some people are going to say it's located in Miami, which is like those kids you met at IU that say they're from "Chicago" when they're actually from one of those garbage towns in The Region. Listen, we're all from garbage towns. I'm from a garbage town. Own your garbage town. It's a part of who you are. I don't say I'm from Indianapolis just to hide the truth. I proudly state the name of the cornfield I wandered out of whenever I'm asked of my origins DANVILLE STAND UP.

So when you fly into Miami (if you drive you'll never make it, the human body is not designed to be exposed to inland Florida for that long) don't be surprised when you still have a ways to go. You probably didn't even fly into Miami, you probably flew into Ft. Lauderdale to save roughly $30 on airfare you cheap idiot. You might as well be in a different state. Just stay in Ft. Laudy, it doesn't matter. It's eternal Spring Break there; but not in the oh-yeah-parties-and-babes-everywhere kind of way. No, IT just means that Darude's Sandstorm is playing 24/7 and the answer to "what did I just step in?" is always vomit.

Florida International is anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes (again, traffic-dependent) and $100 in tolls away from anything resembling Miami. Also, the exit you were looking for is closed for construction. The detour is simple, just take the next one, wander around in a purgatory of gas stations and strip malls, sit at a gridlocked stoplight for twenty-six minutes and then TA-DA you're in Sweetwater, the city just to the north of FIU, which is technically located in a census-designated place called University Park. What is a CDP? A bunch of government propaganda, that's what it is. FIU is in Sweetwater. Don't @ me.

WHAT IS A SWEETWATER?

Much like the rest of South Florida, Sweetwater was settled when a group of well-meaning morons saw a vast swamp filled to the brim with basically-dinosaurs and decided to fill it with dirt and build a mall on top of it. The mall contains a Cheesecake Factory and Buffalo Wild Wings, which makes it the number one destination for any displaced-Hoosier feeling a little homesick.

Despite having literally none of the handful of things that makes living in Miami-Dade County bearable (beach, nightlife) and all the things that makes it horrible (aggressively bad drivers, 900% humidity, $2500 per month apartments with almost one entire bedroom, possibly the Chupacabra) the city of Sweetwater thrived. Eventually, they destroyed an airport to put South Florida's preeminent public university in its place.

OR DID THEY:

That's Florida International keeping their options open. Destroy everything but the control tower and then when the education bubble inevitably bursts, you can easily convert the campus back into an airport. You don't even have to change 66% of the name! This is a savvy business maneuver and should be applauded. All uncompensated tuition dollars can be converted into frequent flyer miles (blackout dates and other terms and conditions may apply).

WHAT TO DO IN SWEETWATER / UNIVERSITY PARK

Here is an exhaustive list of things you can do in and around FIU, with accompanying drive times and price estimates:

  • Go see the Heat play. (60 minutes, $150 - $10,000)
  • Go see the Dolphins play. (35 minutes, $200 - $300 start of season, $20 after the first loss to the Patriots)
  • Go see the Marlins play. (40 minutes, $5)
  • Get drunk in a Publix parking lot off your friend's booze. (5 minutes, FREE)
  • Get high on bath salts in a Publix parking lot. (5 minutes, $20 - $50)
  • Go to the closest beach. (80 minutes, FREE after the cost of tolls, gas, parking, and the fender bender you get in on A1A.)
  • Wrestle an alligator. (10 minutes in a fanboat, FREE)
  • Attend FIU football game. (5 minutes, $15 on StubHub)

TAILGATING TIPS

Like any college football program, you can't spend a Saturday Thursday near FIU without experiencing the tailgating scene. Tailgating for PANTHERS FOOTBAW is a truly unforgettable experience, here's what you do:

  1. Park at the Publix across from campus, alone.
  2. So very alone.
  3. Go inside, order two Buffalo Chicken Pub Subs at the deli counter.
  4. Grab a 12-pack of Presidente beer.
  5. Consume half of the first sub while waiting at the one checkout line that is open.
  6. Sit in your car, windows up, A/C on.
  7. Blare R.E.M's "Everybody Hurts" as loud as you can muster.
  8. Consume all of your purchases as quickly as possible.
  9. Get out of your car.
  10. Lay down on the asphalt and take a nap until kickoff.
  11. Drag your extremely burned, doubtlessly vomit-covered, disgusting body to the stadium.
  12. Lose to Western Kentucky by eight touchdowns.
Wasn't that a fun, memorable experience? You hardly noticed the mosquitoes devouring your lower half!

LET'S REMEMBER SOME FIU PANTHERS:

  • T.Y. Hilton
  • Uh ...
  • Yeah.

WHEN CAN I GO HOME?

You can't. Someone side-swiped your rented Honda CRV while you read this and now you can't get the door open. You live here now.