ARCADE | Many lives of freshmen

Bethany Milner, Contributing Writer

Shivani Bondada

Midterms have started, party themes are becoming more intricate and everyone is already running out of Wavebuck$. Whether Tulane is 10 minutes from home or 8,000 miles away, college is a daunting new change. But these changes may look different for everyone, so I asked some fellow freshmen how they feel about their Tulane experience so far and the social culture they have seen and participated in. 

I asked Morgan Bennett, a freshman from New Orleans, about her encounters with Tulane party culture versus New Orleans party culture. “New Orleans is known for its parties [and] having a good time. And Tulane is right up there with it. Students like to go out and have a good time, and they’re in the right city to do it,” she said.

However, a phenomenon known as the “Tulane Bubble” ultimately kicks in, often separating Tulane students from New Orleans culture. Tulane students, more so freshmen, may opt to go to a certain near-campus bar or fraternity event every weekend rather than explore the city. I asked Bennett how she thinks Tulane kids can escape this bubble.

“Trying new things or finding yourself a local that knows all the ins and outs … Really going to try the small businesses that are either on Magazine, in the French Quarter [or] on Freret,” Bennett said.

Even if you are not an avid partier, Bennett offered solutions for students who want to deepen their academic interests. 

“There’s always something new in New Orleans to do. There’s a festival every weekend and then the city also has so much history,” Bennett said. “So if you’re a history nerd like I am, you can go on the Civil Rights walks, you can look at the colonization history, you can look at the history of the Treme, for example.”

Flying over to the other side of the globe, Mumbai native Aaryan Sabharwal discussed his feelings about being not only in a new school, but also being in a new country. 

“Obviously there is a culture shock because, you know, this is like a foreign country,” Sabharwal said. “But back home it was much more relatable for me because I could speak in my native language and other people would understand.”

Even though there is a culture shock, Sabharwal noted that he doesn’t feel disconnected from his culture because of the number of people at Tulane who can relate to his experiences of being an international student. 

Sabharwal may be thousands of miles from home, but freshman Maria Kiper lives around 30 minutes away from campus, and to her and commuter students alike, Tulane can feel like thousands of miles away. 

Kiper states that she experiences “FOMO,” or fear of missing out, pretty frequently. Being a commuter student makes it hard for her to participate in all the traditional college events and activities. 

“At some point, I need to leave, and I do need to go home,” Kiper said. “Whereas they can leave and maybe go to dinner together or go walk each other to their rooms and say goodnight and everything or just hang out and talk till two in the morning. Whereas, I don’t really have that opportunity right now.”

Although Tulane is such a big party school, some students may genuinely still struggle to participate in the social culture. Grace Wright stated that she had similar experiences being a Christian at Tulane. 

“There are a few Christian organizations here, which are really good and really strong, but they’re definitely small, and it definitely feels like people aren’t very welcoming and open to Christianity around here. So it’s hard to find people that are also Christians,” Wright said.

Since Tulane prioritizes diversity and inclusion, I asked Wright if she had any opinions on how Tulane, as an institution and a social culture, could do better to cater to the religious population. 

“I would just say, treat everybody equally and don’t judge somebody before even really getting to know them.”

But what about someone who seems to fit the traditional Tulane freshman experience?  Freshman Nic Siemens talks about this archetype of a traditional Tulane student, explaining that there may be more than meets the eye. 

“I don’t really think that there is a traditional Tulane student, which is kind of what makes it cool to me,” Siemens said. “Because pretty much anyone can come here and do whatever they want, and it’ll still work out for them just because they have the resources to be able to.”

I spoke to five students with five different perspectives. However, one thing that all of these students agree on is that college is hard — no matter if you’re an international student, a transplant or a local. Even if you don’t fit the so-called mold of a traditional Tulane student, people around you are adjusting to the same things as you. College is a new experience, and it’s okay to be scared. However, the main thing to take away is to go out, explore for yourself and find your community of friends and future family. 

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