Meet Paige Elmlinger, a first-year student in the Master’s of Higher Education Administration program. She earned her Bachelors degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University complemented by a Diversity Studies certificate. An Ohio native, Paige has encountered many cultural differences since moving to Louisiana, which has made for quite the experience!
Growing up in the Buckeye state I thought I knew what football culture was all about. Football in Ohio was witnessing everyone decked out in Scarlet and Grey on Saturdays (or more importantly Green and White, Go Bobcats!) or hoping for the Browns to pull through with a win on Sunday. Then I moved to Louisiana and began attending a SEC school; I quickly realized football isn’t just a past time down here, it is a way of life.
I had no idea what to expect when it came to Tiger football- an example for you all to understand how unschooled I was, the first few times I read the motto “Geaux Tigers” I thought it was pronounced “Gee-awwx Tigers”. Being an Ohioan I had a lot to learn as a new Southerner. My first LSU game was a success, LSU defeated Sam Houston 56-0 and my day was filled with sun, food, and great friends! To be honest, my favorite part of sports is the social aspect and I was mainly looking forward to the tailgating aspect of Game Day! Ohio tailgating has nothing on LSU- it was a complete culture shock for me. You could not go a few feet across campus without encountering another tailgate. The campus grounds were filled with tents, music, tailgate games, TVs tuned into ESPN, food, and an insane amount of people- it was jaw dropping!
Tailgating is a huge component of Game Day and here are some tips as a newcomer I have for those who have never experienced the SEC:
1. Traffic: Baton Rouge is infamous for their congested traffic and Game Day is no exception. Leave quite early to get onto campus. You may be unable to take your normal route to campus due to road closings in order for law enforcement to ensure a smooth traffic flow. Also carpool with friends because parking is limited!
2.Game Day Attire: I was so stressed over what to wear for Game Day, but it’s a simple as this: wear what you are comfortable in! You will see outfits ranging from LSU t-shirts and jerseys to purple sundresses with cowboy boots! I definitely recommend wearing something cool since you will be tailgating in the Louisiana heat. The most important part of Game Day attire: it is essential to wear purple and gold! Pair your purple and gold with neutrals such a khaki, white or black
3. Drink water: Drink lots of it! The heat can take the energy out of ya and it is important to stay hydrated! You do not want to pass out in Death Valley!
4. Familiarize yourself with LSU traditions: Especially the Garth Brooks song “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. You’re guaranteed to hear this song multiple times throughout the day and every time Louisianans go crazy! Witness the football team walk down Victory Hill and check out the Golden Band from Tigerland.
5. Have fun and embrace the LSU culture: Step out of your comfort zone! Try new tailgate foods such as meat pies or jambalaya. Join in on “Geaux Tigers” cheers. Walk around campus just to people watch and take it all in!
My first SEC football experience was unforgettable and I can’t wait for the remainder of football season! I hope y’all have a better insight of a Northerner in a Southerner’s world!