When you hear Miami or Miami Beach, pictures of beautiful beaches, sun, cocktails, parties, and maybe alligators in some cases, will pop up in your mind. Of course that’s all true. When I was living and working in Miami Beach for three months I had to pinch myself to remind me this is real. My roommates and I had a beautiful, art deco style, apartment with huge kingsize beds. The location was perfect, just one street away from the famous Lincoln road and about two streets far from the beach. This wasn’t any ordinary beach it was South Beach! There you can find most tourist attractions like The Art Deco District and Española Way. While walking on beautiful sandy beaches admiring the colorful lifeguard stands you can be stopped by some guy who want to give you his card. You are asking who it is? He is a night club representative. You just call him and he will bring you to the best clubs in Miami for free. Sounds like a dream right? Did I mention, that if you are a pretty girl you will hear that every day from some random guy on the street? YES!
Unfortunately nothing can be perfect, of course. I’m pretty sure there are a thousand of articles about how beautiful Miami Beach is, which is why I am writting this post because Miami Beach is NOT so perfect. It’s already been over a year since I spent a whole summer on South Beach. I’m not a rich girl with private jet so it wasn’t just about booking a flight and a hotel. Fortunately for people like me there are so many great opportunities these days. I chose to travel through the Work and Travel program. As a university student you simply pay the agency in your country to help you with getting your work visa. They can also find you jobs, but I found both my job and my apartment in Miami by myself via the internet. There were a variety of choices to work in different positions in many hotel chains on the beach. For example, everything from a hotel swimming pool attendant to the a beach cashier. After my Skype interview they sent me a job offer as a Beach Cashier.
After I arrived and started working I realised in the first week that working with money and people in hot weather is not the best combination. Trust me, the beautiful beach wasn’t enough to take away my misery. Not even the calming sound of the ocean could have made that job better. In addition, I hadn’t thought about the fact that summer is the off season in Miami! Of course, there were a lot of tourists who had made the same mistaken as me. However, all I could do was explain to them that unbearable hot weather and strong storms were normal during summer in Miami. Fortunately my job wasn’t as bad as some of the other students that were there with me. Some of them had to serve food and drinks all day in the hot sun. Boys were mostly working as beach attendants which means: thez were delivering rented lounge chairs, umbrellas as well as cabanas and they had to set them up too. This ment dragging heavy cabanas in almost 95°F/35°C all over the beach. Does this sound like a dream job? But if you wanted to make money that’s what you had to do.
Well, my job was my problem so let’s move on to everyday troubles that everyone can relate to. As I already mentioned the weather is super hot and humid especially during summer. This might be perfect for lizards, which are quite cute, and cockroaches which are not so cute but not so perfect for us. We found our first cockroache in our room after only a few weeks. Then, some other students told me that it’s in everyday reality for them. Soon thereafter I started seeing these huge bugs even on the streets. More than a month after I came home (back to Slovakia) I still had paranoia everytime something moved across the floor because all I could think of it was a cockroach.
Another thing you should be aware of on Miami Beach is the huge economic gap between the tourist and the rich who function amidst a very large homeless population. Maybe not everyone will notice this or feel badly about it like I did. But I felt badly and guilty. It was like I was in some kind of parallel universe where everything ugly, poor and dirty was visible just to some people because everyone else wasn’t noticing it. You could see homeless without arms or desperate poor people in poor apartments. And right next to them beautiful fake-breasts women having expensive dinners with rich men. You could see the most expensive hotels next to the beach and then small houses with ordinary people right next to it. Of course, I got used to it after a while jus tlike everyone else did.
So when you no longer care so much about these things it’s time to put high heels on and call your “Miami party promoter.” Or just answer a text that he already wrote you because there is always some club ready with the best show you have ever seen. But again, for me it was something new. When you go for the first time it can feel a little strange. Firstly, there is a need to wear high heels so be sure it’s the first thing you pack in your luggage on the way to Miami. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. After that, forget about equality or going to a party with your boyfriend. Thanks to your Miami friend you always have free entrance to VIP and free drinks but it’s only for girls. Be prepared to see a lot of fake boobs, lips, hair and lot of strippers/dancers. Do you want to bring a boyfriend? If so he has to pay quite a lot of money to enter and he’ll also have to try to get into VIP to find you. The first time I felt like I was in a herd of cows who were brought inside, where we were shown exactly where to sit and what to drink. Later in some other clubs I felt much better and had fun. Anyway, try not to imagine it as something from a movie and be realistic as well as careful.
You should be careful even during the daytime. Even when I just went for a run or enjoyed yoga on the beach and there was always some guy on the street who was asking for my number. It’s quite flattering, especially if you are not used to that in your country, but together with the good feeling there’s also a red alarm in your head. I’m sure most women are not naive anymore. Even worse is if you don’t like the guy but don’t want to be rude. And in case you like him don’t forget you are in Miami. He can be gay or you will thinking about the cars on the streets with signs posting: Free HIV test. Yes I saw this kind of car everyday on the street next to us. Of course, most of people go to Miami Beach to have fun and forget about everything so usually they were surprised when I told them I have to wake up in the morning and go to work.
Usually if somebody says he is going to Miami, people around him are jealous and wish they could go too. But when you have more information like my father you might react like him:”Great, I’m letting my daughter go alone to a place where sharks are on one side and alligators on the other side.” Well, I’ve just seen alligators so don’t worry. People from Miami are making jokes about it, even about huricanes and that’s nice. In the end, all this trouble I wrote about is now a great memory. I’ll never forget that it’s still Miami Beach and I’m happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to be there. So please, consider my words just like small tips and warnings but don’t think that Miami is not worth it. I had a wonderful time there and if I could go again I would go right now and this article would have to be finished on the airplane. 🙂
P.S. Thank you to my friend Joanie for editing 🙂