There's a divide on Miami's campus. We all see it and we all know it. Pockets of Chinese international students and groups of domestic American students are walking around campus and living completely separate lives.
We blame the language barrier. We blame the cultural differences. We blame the awkwardness we can't seem to overcome to talk to someone different than ourselves.
For whatever reason, the divide persists.
But it shouldn't.
There's a bar Uptown called Pixxo. Last weekend, two members of our staff spent an evening there. We'd heard of it before as the international student bar, but it was more than that.
Pixxo provides a place for international and domestic students to mix. Yes, we "mix" on campus and in class, but we do not really interact or connect. We still sit with our own friends in our own world and don't think about anything outside of our own bubble.
It's natural to gravitate towards people who are like us. It makes us feel safer, more comfortable.
But if all of the people we interact with are clones of ourselves, how long until we run out of new experiences and information? Anyone that's exactly like us has to get boring eventually.
In order to keep life interesting, to expand our horizons and experience all life has to offer, we have to make connections with people who aren't our carbon copy.
But psychology is hard to overcome and it's easy to stick to our bubbles and keep any interaction with people outside that bubble superficial.
But in this bar, quieter and less packed than Brick, there is an opportunity for that real connection.
The owners of Pixxo have cultivated an environment that calls back to what international students left at home. The owners, who are Chinese themselves, included private karaoke rooms that are a staple of bars in China.
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This inclusive environment not only gives international students a degree of familiarity and comfort so far from home, but also allows domestic students a window into another culture that is prevalent on campus.
At Pixxo, we don't see international students as quiet or different. We see them as just as drunk and goofy as our own friends on a Saturday night.
What struck our writers the most was the vibe of the whole place. There wasn't any awkwardness between groups of people. Domestic kids and international kids were mingling. Gone were the cliques, and in their place was a crowd of people making real connections.
Why is this not the norm for Miami?
Why don't more places Uptown cater to international students?
The whole point of college is to experience things you hadn't before and learn things you didn't have the opportunity to in high school.
To ignore entire swaths of Miami's campus is to ignore part of the reason we came to Miami in the first place. Nobody has ever been negatively affected by having a wider world view.
Pixxo represents the a big opening step in bring these two worlds together. And you don't have to get matching tattoos with anyone, you don't have to weave each other friendship bracelets.
All you have to do is get a drink with someone who doesn't exactly live in your own bubble.
Take that first step, start a conversation. There's so much we can do to cross that cultural barrier.
If you can't see what you have in common with international students, just think about the fact that they're drinking and having a great time on the same night in the same town as you.
Hell, you could even go join them if you wanted.
Take that step and get out of your bubble.