I’ve lived in the same house, attended the same school, and been in the same city for 18 years. So naturally, when the college search began, I was ready to go wherever the process took me. Almost instantaneously, I fell in love with Tulane and New Orleans. I mean, how could you not? New Orleans is unlike any other city that I’ve ever been too. Visiting for the first time only strengthened my love for this magical place, as I rode the streetcar down St. Charles in awe of the towering mansions, restaurant-hopped all over the city for incredible meals, and strolled beneath the towering oak trees on the campus that I would one day call my home. While I could not be more excited to experience everything that this new place has to offer for the next 4+ years, I also recognize some major differences between the Crescent City and the Charm City of Baltimore, Maryland:

Crabs vs. Crawfish

If you hail from Baltimore or any of the surrounding areas, you know that feasting on crabs in the summertime is an absolute must. I don’t just mean crab in dips, soups, or cake form, but the real deal; a high pile of steamed crabs covered in Old Bay (a Chesapeake Bay flavored, all-purpose seasoning blend of 18 quality spices and herbs that goes well on chips, wings, and especially crabs). We crack em’ open to extract all of the meat ourselves, right there at the table. This task is a Maryland staple at the end of a long summer day, but down here in NOLA, people look perplexed when I even mention the idea. I’ve only been here for a little over two months, so I have yet to attend a crawfish boil, but you can bet that when April rolls around this seafood pro will be peeling crawfish like a native New Orleanian in no time.

All Four Seasons vs. A Lack Thereof

Northerners like me understand the cycle of winter, spring, summer, and fall. I typically spend my summer days relaxing at the beach or cooling off in the pool, then watch as the leaves begin to change into bright shades of orange and yellow in fall. The first snowfall usually hits around late November or early December, and then I shiver and suffer my way through winter by counting down the days until I can venture outside without a coat again. But down here in NOLA, the “cycle” goes a little more like this: feels like 105℉ one day, torrential downpours and flooding the next, then sunny and 82° but with 90% humidity the day after that. While this unpredictable weather might drive some people crazy, I love the fact that the temperature almost never drops below 40℉, even in the middle of winter. If you also attend a school in the South, you probably envisioned your future self on Snapchat in 60 degree weather as your friends up north down their sweaters and snow-boots. By the time January hits, all the native southerners will be pulling winter coats out of their closets, and I’ll be jumping for joy as my North Face gathers dust back home.

The Inner Harbor vs. The French Quarter

Back in Baltimore, when families go downtown, they typically go to the Inner Harbor. A stretch of land along the Chesapeake Bay, the harbor is filled with restaurants, shops, museums, and lots of boats. I’ve been going downtown to the Inner Harbor ever since I was a little kid, whether it be for a visit to the National Aquarium, a celebratory dinner, or just a family outing on a nice day. But after countless visits over the years, the Inner Harbor gradually became less exciting. So in coming to Tulane, I love having a new area of my city to explore. From the artwork on the fence of Jackson Square, to the neon signs on Bourbon Street, to a stroll along the Mississippi River, each day spent in the French Quarter is unlike the time before it. There’s always something new to see, hear, and of course, taste.

You can live in any city in America, but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you.