Six cultural touchstones you may have missed…

From their first visit to campus, students hear about the same set of traditions. Don’t step on the seal. Rub the turtle heads for good luck. Kiss your soul mate under Upham Arch. But a school is more than the sum of its most popular rituals. What does it truly mean to be a Miami student? What moments comprise the Redhawk experience?

No two students are the same — part of what makes college great is the freedom it provides every individual to explore and flourish, to discover who they are and what their place is on campus and in the world. But whether you’re a first-year still learning your way around Oxford or a senior figuring out how to make the most of your final two semesters, here are six lesser-known cultural touchstones all Miami students should seek out during their short time here.

Have you seen…

This establishment: Oxford Hookah Lounge

Tucked away in the alley by Left Field Tavern and O’Pub, the Hookah Lounge is the type of place you could easily go four years without stumbling upon — but if you visit once, you’ll find yourself returning time and again. The lounge’s laidback ambiance offers a relaxing reprieve from the flashing strobes and loud beats that are the norm at most Uptown establishments. Not into hookah? Not a problem. You don’t need to smoke to enjoy this lounge. Instead, grab a six-pack (it’s BYOB), kick back on the plush sofas and snack on some of the best hummus in town.

This sound: The chimes of Pulley Tower

Is there a more ubiquitous sound at Miami? Whether tinkling along to the fight song, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or “Let It Be,” the Pulley Tower bells seem to permeate the campus as students make their way to class. As the semester progresses, I inevitably grow accustomed to the music — it begins to fade into the background, becoming a natural complement to my treks across academic quad and through Bishop Woods. But every August and January, when I arrive on campus and hear the bells for the first time again, that’s the moment I know I’ve returned home.

This tradition: The hockey team’s pregame jog

Ask any Miami student what one of their favorite on-campus events is, and there’s a good chance they’ll say it’s attending a hockey game. In addition to being perennial contenders for a bid to the NCAA tournament, the Redhawks know how to put on a good show. Friday and Saturday nights at Goggin are filled with rowdy fans directing gloriously humiliating chants toward the opponent’s netminder. But not every fan knows that those who show up an hour and a half before puck drop get the opportunity to participate in this spirited tradition: As part of their pregame warm-up, the players jog around the arena, eventually making their way through the tunnel of fans congregated at the bridge between the two rinks. Say what you will about Miami’s school spirit — it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed by Redhawk pride as the team parades through the cheering crowd.

This game: Disc golf on Western

You might not know a five iron from a tire iron, but if you can toss a frisbee even somewhat capably, you can play disc golf. Miami’s Western campus features a nine-hole course for the game, which involves throwing a frisbee into a basket in as few strokes as possible. You don’t have to be particularly athletic or competitive; you don’t even have to keep score. But every student should spend at least one sunny afternoon on the course — what better way to enjoy the natural serenity of Western campus than with a group of friends and a frisbee?

This festival: Hueston Woods Maple Syrup Festival

Miami students often get the sensation they’re located in a bubble, surrounded by nothing but cornfields on all sides. But don’t forget that just five miles down route 732 is Hueston Woods, a gorgeous state park offering a wide array of recreational opportunities. Every year, Hueston Woods hosts a maple syrup festival, a celebration of syrup production in Ohio. Spanning two weekends, the festival offers all sorts of sweet activities — from a guided nature tour that culminates at the cozy sugar house, to a pancake breakfast at which you can devour pancakes, sausage and bacon all smothered in the sugary concoction.

This animal: The Miami squirrel

Miamians come from all walks of life. We take different classes, join different clubs, root for different teams and vote for different candidates. But all of us are united in our love for the Miami squirrels. No walk to class is complete without an encounter with one of these furry critters scampering around campus. They pepper the lawn of every quad, scurrying from tree to tree while displaying a bizarre lack of fear toward the students and faculty they share the grounds with. Though they might not provide quite the same companionship as a family pet, there’s something comforting about these animals. Amid the chaos of college life, they offer a constant, a familiar face you can rely on whenever you step through the Phi Delt gates and stroll down Slant Walk toward Miami’s campus.

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