When you tell people that you’re going to Tulane, the reaction you get is like no other—basically, you’re going to hear over and over that you’ll be spending the best four years of your life in one of the world’s most unique cities. Chances are you haven’t experienced New Orleans like many of the people who react this way have, but as soon as you step foot here, you’ll know exactly what they mean.
First things first, there’s the food. From beignets at Café Du Monde to the jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace and everything in between, this might be one of the most appealing and unique parts about the whole city. You’ll literally never run out of restaurants to try, whether it be a famous French Quarter venue, or a small gem on Magazine Street. Not only will you never have a shortage of restaurants, you’ll also be able to find almost every type of cuisine here. While there’s delicious Italian, Vietnamese, and Mexican food around every corner, definitely try an authentic Creole meal at least once—it’s a huge part of New Orleans’ culture and history, and, while exotic, it actually is more than palatable, even if spiced foods aren’t your thing. As a freshman in my fourth week of school, I haven’t been to the same restaurant twice, and I haven’t been disappointed by a single item.
Naturally, you’ll go to Bourbon Street sooner or later, maybe even with your parents before school starts like I did. The magic of the French Quarter is evident from the very second you get there; as soon as the sun goes down, jazz bands appear almost out of nowhere, and the streets erupt into a celebration right before your eyes. If you’re into this sort of thing, check out a voodoo shop or get your palm read by a psychic in the streets—it’ll make you feel connected to NOLA spiritually. While you might not be here a lot as a freshman, you’ll definitely never forget the occasions you do spend in the French Quarter.
It’s undeniable that jazz music is one of the most important aspects of the uniqueness of New Orleans. I mean, the first place you arrive in is Louis Armstrong International Airport! Make it a point to attend a gig at a famed New Orleans venue, like Tipitina’s. Even if you think you aren’t a fan of jazz music, just trust me—the experience of hearing live jazz music in the place where it was born is like no other.
While this freshman class hasn’t lived here for more than a month yet, we have already been exposed to the culture of New Orleans just from attending Tulane itself. With Mardi Gras beads hanging from anything that even resembles a tree and jazz bands on every corner, there is definitely no place like NOLA. As they say, “Only at Tulane, Only in New Orleans.”