When I was 12 years old and visited Tulane University for the first time, I knew I belonged here. I watched a game of quidditch, bought a sweatshirt and enjoyed a shrimp po boy on the quad in front of the LBC. I couldn’t help but beam with joy and think “this is the height of luxury!” So, I’m sure you could imagine my excitement when I opened my portal on November 22nd, 2021 and watched the blue and green confetti fall in front of a letter which read “Congratulations on your admission to Tulane University and the Spring Scholars Program!”

I had been admitted to my dream school and after the initial excitement and celebration subsided, I had to pause for a moment and consider, “what does this actually mean?”  Although I knew of people from my town who had come to Tulane as Spring Scholars in years past, I had not yet processed what this would mean for me. I was extremely apprehensive about having to potentially spend my first semester of college abroad at just 18 years old. 

Tulane’s Spring Scholar program is offered to about 150 applicants a year and gives potential students the opportunity to participate in an alternative college experience before beginning classes at Tulane in the Spring. Spring Scholars are provided with many different options for their Fall semester at Tulane: they can spend the Fall semester taking classes abroad, they can get a job or participate in service learning, or they can move here to New Orleans and take classes at Loyola University of New Orleans. 

While Tulane encourages Spring Scholars to travel abroad, I chose to move here. I could not wait another moment to emerge myself into the culture, uniqueness, and beauty of New Orleans. Although I was hesitant to move out here on my own and without a freshman roommate, I was excited to start my freshman year. Living on Broadway Street my first semester has challenged me, but it has also allowed me to experience living on my own just out of high school. Many people don’t have this opportunity until their junior year of college, so I decided to take advantage of my situation and use it as a chance to grow. 

Spring Scholars are not offered a meal plan or splash card for access to the Commons since they live off-campus. Although it can be challenging to organize alone, Instacart, Uber Eats and Go Puff have been great resources.  I have also spent a lot of time learning to cook, and enjoy creating easy, inexpensive, and healthy meals. Spring Scholars also don’t have access to the Reily Recreation Center, but Audubon Park is a short walk from my apartment and is a great place to clear your head and get some exercise. Living off campus, you have your own space that you are responsible for. I also have roommates, so we all work together to maintain the house.  We prioritize keeping the common areas clean and the bathrooms fresh which has been an added but rewarding responsibility.  

Furthermore, Broadway has proven to be a perfect location with only a 7-minute walk to campus and it is the center of the social scene as well. When I get home from class I can usually be found in a camping chair on my porch “people-watching”, listening to music, or reading a book. I’ve spent many late nights and very early mornings sitting out there so I have definitely seen it all!

Like I mentioned, Spring Scholars are not given Splash Cards. This makes it difficult to hang out in the dorms at night, and without your own dorm room being a few steps away from the people you want to become friends with, it might feel like a burden to dorm hop all day. Though I may not know what dorm life is like, I do have the privilege of having upperclassmen as roommates. My roommates are involved in many activities on campus, including clubs and Greek organizations. Luckily, they have all been through some version of the uncomfortable unsettled place that comes with being a freshman, which has been comforting for me. They have helped me integrate socially, even if it might be with an older crowd. Although this has worked for me, some people find other Tulane Spring Scholars to live with as well, and there seem to be benefits of having people going through exactly what you are in the next bedroom.  

Though Tulane doesn’t discourage living in New Orleans and taking classes at Loyola, it’s not quite as easy to acclimate as being part of the abroad program. Students who go abroad are ensured that the courses they take in another country will count as part of their requirements and credits at Tulane once they enter in the spring. Living in New Orleans and taking classes at Loyola University of New Orleans is a bit more difficult, as you must enroll separately from Tulane and be accepted as a visiting student for the semester. Tulane then must approve your courses before you can transfer them to fill a requirement, and if you want to be part of Greek Life in the spring, you must be sure to earn enough credits for recruitment. Despite these challenges, I am confident that everything will work out.

I still have that Tulane sweatshirt I bought on my first visit to campus in 2016.  I couldn’t have predicted the whirlwind of obstacles or the unprecedented circumstances from the last year of my life. I also couldn’t have known that I would start my freshman year at the college across the street from where I had pictured it from the beginning. However, I did know that I would be happiest living in New Orleans. Fortunately, I got that right. 

Featured Image via Zoe Gellert.

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