The Maroon

New Orleans nightlife as a freshman

Gage Counts

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In high school, I wasn’t attracted to alcohol. I didn’t go out, and my nights were spent just like my days – substance free. Partying was something that bad kids, or people who didn’t have obligations and aspirations did. And when a good kid partied, it was because he forgot who he was.

I lived in a very small, culturally conservative community.

After graduating, I didn’t leave that community. My first semester at college was spent at a local university. Then, drinking and partying wasn’t something I judged anyone for – it just wasn’t something that made me comfortable.

I transferred to Loyola in the spring. Worrying that my world was too small, I decided that I would give partying a chance. After all, I was in college – in New Orleans no less – and that’s what college students did.

I made friends almost as soon as I got here. They asked me if I drank and made it very clear that if I didn’t, that was fine, but they did. I had imagined that this was when I would learn what peer pressure really was, but I didn’t. I told them I drank wine with my parents over dinner, and they dropped the subject.

I think they found my innocence to be endearing.

That Saturday, I walked into my suitemates’ room for a pregame, and as I had just spent the past few minutes learning basic drinking terms online, I felt prepared. I knew my rums from my vodkas, and I was ready to step into this new world that I had avoided for so long.

I survived the pregame just fine, which only served to bolster my confidence. That newly gained poise was lost as soon as I turned the street corner and saw the popular college bar, The Boot.

Most of my night at the bar was spent keeping an eye on my freshly-minted friends. As I was at a bar in college, I assumed that the horrible stories on the news would be actualized in my life. Nothing happened that night, but it’s still a habit I haven’t grown out of.

I kept a similar routine for most of the semester, and each night, I would learn something new. Friday, how to order at a bar. Saturday, what Tulane Emergency Medical Services was.

My tastes developed as the semester did. I went to better bars, house parties and even rushed a fraternity (to the shock of my friends from home). I made it through Mardi Gras without collapsing from exhaustion. I went home for the summer with a chip on my shoulder.

Regretfully, my grades suffered. Yet, my nightlife as a freshman caused me to develop relationships with people who become important to me and taught me more about the world than the semester’s worth of classes ever could.

If I could do it over, I would have studied more. Going outside of my comfort zone, and experiencing a new part of the world, though, is something that I will pridefully carry with me my entire life.

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New Orleans nightlife as a freshman