It is a rite of passage for Tulane students to go downtown and visit Bourbon Street with friends. However, with the mass amount of people that both go to Tulane and are tourists who travelled to New Orleans, Bourbon Street can be a major source of anxiety. What is it about this infamous street that provokes such anxiety, and why is it that every time my friends and I go downtown, someone feels anxious?
I think the answer to this rests on the fact that Tulane has created a bubble of safety around our campus and bars or restaurants that Tulane students frequent. Whenever you step out of your bubble, in a flash you remember that you are in a city of almost 400,000 people and you are not surrounded by familiar faces. New Orleans, being infamous for crime and danger due to the binge drinking and open-container laws in the city, can be a scary place for a small group of young adults.
Another factor that may contribute to the anxiety is the sheer amount of people you are rubbing shoulders with that come from across the country. You do not know these people, but they still approach you and may feel inclined to talk to you. When you combine this with alcohol, anxiety is easier to set in and you may panic. There are many horror stories that parents tell their Tulane students to dissuade their kids from going downtown, but few heed these warnings.
Personally, walking around the French Quarter in the daytime is an enjoyable experience, but when it turns to night, I am riddled with anxiety that I cannot prevent. Being surrounded by so many strangers, not knowing their intentions, makes me worried for both myself and my friends who have come with me. While some of my friends may try to calm my anxiety by pretending that nothing is wrong or that everyone is harmless, I feel responsible for the safety of all of my friends while on Bourbon Street.
So, what should you do with this information? I suggest finding one partner in your group when you go downtown who is similar to you where you can both be there for each other and leave if need be. Safety is always the number one priority and ensuring everyone gets back to campus the way they left.
Cover photo: TripSavvy