I’ve often defined “wanderlust” as the desire to simply wander around a new place and absorb the atmosphere. I think in that respect, my time in New Orleans will be no different than in the other places I’ve been. I still have that wanderlust and the itch to get out and explore. Yesterday I drove over to Tulane to get my first glimpse of the campus (and to figure out where the heck I’m supposed to park). As many people warned me, New Orleans is certainly a mess of one-way streets, dead ends, crazy intersections, and lots of traffic. And Tulane is in the heart of this city, so trying to get close to campus is like playing darts. I aimlessly drove down countless streets trying to find somewhere close to the campus, and even drove through campus a few times, but just when I thought I was at the right place I hit a road block. Literally. Or a dead end. Or when I wanted to turn around, I hit a one-way street going the opposite way I wanted to go. I found a parking garage, but it looked like it was reserved for those with parking passes, so I didn’t want to risk it and left the garage. When I finally was forced to parallel park (something I will have to work on) I was still a bit of a walk from the campus itself. So I gathered up my courage and started walking in the direction I had last seen campus buildings.
Then I was faced with the truly hard part: finding the buildings I was looking for. I had been emailed a campus map, but I do not own a smartphone so I couldn’t pull it up. I don’t have a printer, so I couldn’t print it ahead of time. I had tried to familiarize myself with the map as best I could, but unfortunately I didn’t even know where I was at that moment, so I had no idea what direction to turn. Naturally I turned in the wrong direction. I found residence halls, the liberal arts building, the Episcopal student center, and then the brand new not-even-open-yet Catholic students center. I learned that the Catholic student center is holding a grand opening night on Friday with free food, so that’s some cool info that I tucked in the back of my mind. I then turned around and headed back the way I came. I found the parking garage that I had attempted to park in, and a recreation center, and more residence halls. I came to that edge of campus, and turned around again, heading back the way I just came. I found the student center, bookstore, and food court (super useful stuff) and browsed through the bookstore just to get out of the oppressive Southern heat. And then as I exited out of the side of the student center, I found the building I was looking for. The building I would return to the next morning for my graduate student orientation.
It was quite a long walk around campus, and I was rather exhausted and frustrated. At one point I just wanted to cry because I was so tired of not knowing where I was going. I don’t handle being lost very well, because it rarely ever happens. I have a pretty good sense of direction, but New Orleans has definitely gotten the better of me. But on the bright side, I now know where almost everything is. The act of being able to wander aimlessly is in some ways very peaceful, and the campus is certainly beautiful. I don’t know if any campus can quite compare to Spring Hill, but it was wonderful all the same. I’m very glad that I was forced to take such a meandering path (even though I didn’t have to do that, since I was actually quite close in the first place). But all-in-all, the outing was worth it. I still haven’t figured out quite where to park, but I suppose I’ll figure that out eventually. Today I arrived an hour and a half early for orientation (thirty minutes of which was spent looking for an appropriate parking space), and I had a beautiful early morning stroll through campus to my destination. I watched the bookstore open and I sat near the food court where they have a beautiful waterfall feature and wrote this blog post.
Hopefully this year goes well. At least I’ve settled some anxiety by figuring out where all the buildings are, and although driving around in circles was frustrating I now know which streets go in which directions and how they intersect with each other. I’m excited for the year to get started!