I’ve lived in this city for four years and I’m still a tourist. I’ve been inside the Loyola bubble since day one, despite my best efforts. I’ve done community service, worked freelance jobs around the city, eaten just about everything New Orleans has to offer, and I can navigate the streets better than most of the people who actually drive them, but I’ll always get that look when I tell people I’m a student at Loyola.

Most bars, shops and street vendors still see me as a target even if I’ve been there more than any reasonable human being should in their entire life. Its part the stigma of being a student in a city driven by tourists; that we’re not here to live, we’re here to escape. Our lives were so boring that we decided we wanted to leave them and come here for a little while. Well, it’s not always Mardi Gras and po boys. There are a lot of people in New Orleans living in places they don’t feel safe in, working jobs they don’t like, and dealing with people who decided that their lives were so boring or tiresome that they’re going to take a break for awhile.

It’s not that escaping is bad. Taking a vacation is great if you can do it, but that’s where the look that I’m so used to getting comes from. A lot of the people in this city can’t escape, yet here I am asking for another po boy because the sandwiches where I come from just aren’t as good. As long as I’m a student here I’ll always have one foot in the city and one foot in Connecticut and that’s not where I want to be anymore.

I’m done with the look. And that doesn’t mean it’s time for the city to change, it’s time for me to change. I’m graduating this year and this is where I’m going to stay and really start my life. I’m leaving the Loyola bubble behind and becoming a part of this city. It’s not that I haven’t had a great time at Loyola or that I didn’t need the four years that I’ve spent here, it’s just time for me to call New Orleans home, not Loyola.

I’ll always love Loyola for everything it’s done for me just like I love being with my family in Connecticut, but it’s time to move on. I’m tired of being a reluctant tourist in a place I’ve wanted to call home for so long. I’m ready to end the fantasy that is New Orleans from the view of a college campus and get back to real life.

If I could do anything in New Orleans, I’d start a job I’m good at and move in to a house where the rent’s not too high.

Po boy shop proximity is also a plus.

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