Monday, September 26, 2005

My Tulane Family

It’s time to bring this site back to the students, so spread the word. Today I’m going to talk about why it is that we are just so obsessed with getting back to New Orleans as soon as possible, because no one gets it- not parents, not friends from other schools, not even many alumni. It seems that many of these people just can’t seem to fathom why we would be in such a hurry to go back. Some of us are in “better” universities than Tulane, others are in bigger schools or with our “best friends from home.” Why would we be so eager to get back to New Orleans when we can be with our home friends in our hometowns with our wonderful parents?

I know people at USC, UCSB, UCLA, Boulder, Stanford, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and Yale; and very few of them understand why we are so eager to go back to a place that could have virtually no amenities (which we will but that's another argument). Each of those universities is unique in its own way, some small or big, some with mostly instate people and some with out of state people. So why are we so different from every single one? I should also mention the parents, who are generally terrified of the possibility of students returning, even though Tulane would never let us come back until it was 110% safe. Parents keep saying “I’ll never let my kid go back there” or “Why would you even want to go back?” Hey parents, I don’t expect you to understand. But students will.

I want to go back because Tulane is my second family, it's that simple. Allow me to elaborate. Something about New Orleans and about Tulane compels the students to bond in a way that I have never seen at another university. Clearly, something brings us together; you can say it’s simply the availability of common social locations such as the Boot, or a love for the community around Tulane. It could be that many of us all have this general craving for adventure (which is true, Tulane students seem to be very adventurous). But another major factor that is often forgotten is that we make New Orleans our homes, not our second homes or our temporary homes, but our primary homes. In many universities, students opt to travel or go home on the weekends, never fully establishing a permanent connection with their surroundings. I think this severely impacts the way they interact socially, if for anything, because these people retain very intimate relationships with their home friends. Many, not all, of these people have stronger connections with their hometown than with New Orleans, and that’s just not the case for us Tulane students. Now, I’m sure that there are people who are outside of this analysis; but I’m just trying to generalize things so we can analyze the situation further. It seems to be that since we all stay in New Orleans, without the opportunity or desire to leave every weekend, we bond on another level; that of family. We make connections on hundreds of levels, from the campus life to the restaurants, from the people to the transportation, from our classes to the supermarkets social scene (Whole Foods for sure). Tulane replaces your home situation, your family structure. This is a great thing because we all need a permanent local family (even if it’s just until we graduate). To me, my friends are my brothers and sisters, the university is my parents, and Bourbon Street is some weird uncle who is fun for the first 10 minutes of the party until he’s had a few too many drinks.

The good and the bad of my experience as a student at Tulane have fit neatly into a family structure. And thus, when I’m without New Orleans, I’m without my second family. At Tulane, we develop tradition; be it a crawfish boil on Fridays or Five Happiness Chinese Food on Sundays (hope they are still there). At Tulane, there is a sense of community; such as peoples’ relationships within the Hullabaloo, TEMS, Hillel, TUCP, CACTUS, sports, or the Greek system. These mini-communities become a focal point for our emotional stability. We use them to connect with each other under a common bond, and enhance our emotional states. At Tulane there’s a lot of love. Some of us love the music of New Orleans- from jazz to hip-hop. Others of us love the food, the culture, or the wild party life. You can’t get this unique blend of cultural elements anywhere, not even in major European cities. At Tulane, there is happiness. It seems that the students are just generally happy there. I base this on a 2 factors. 1) The sentiments I get from students all around the country, that nowhere and I mean nowhere, compares to Tulane and 2) The expression of content that students have with the school (read about it on the “what I miss about New Orleans” section). Finally there’s a major sense of unity. It seems that we the students have a general love for each other, and thus, a general respect for the community- a respect for the family. And hey, MAYBE IT’S LIKE THIS AT OTHER SCHOOLS, but I don’t know one person who understands my feelings about it and really, it doesn’t matter.

What about Tulane University itself? Well it’s just an amazing academic institution. The professors are remarkable. We could not do without Lesmond, Beau, Burrows, and Hogg (and that’s just people in the b-school). The facilities are new and high tech. The administration cares. When I want to talk to my advisor, I call him on the phone and HE answers. If you need to talk to a professor, you can email him or her and actually get a response. Most of my professors give me their home numbers. The students are intelligent, and always work together to help each other out. The food…well let’s just say we’d like Subway back, please. The campus is gorgeous, even in the latest pictures. Yes, Tulane costs a lot of money. It was a big factor in my decision where to go to school. But I think it’s worth every penny and so do my parents. You get your money’s worth- a quality institution with life at your fingertips.

So what about the potential class of 2010? Or the class of 2009? I don’t think that videos or even speeches from Administrators are going to entice a class of people who have a lot of other options for colleges. They know Tulane’s a good school. They know they are going to have a great dorm life. They know that New Orleans is an interesting city. But there are 100 other cities that can provide them with all these fabulous things. Why should they even bother when they can try to get in to Michigan? Family is the word. Tradition, community, love, happiness. This unique blend of culture and community can’t be found anywhere else.
To the class of 2010: This is your life. This is your future. It doesn’t matter whether you go to a school ranked 30 or 40, it matters on what kind of personal experience you can bring to your career. If your gut tells you that you might benefit from the array of opportunities that await you at Tulane, then I challenge you to take the plunge. I challenge you to try out the one university that will become your second .
family The decision on where to go to college will affect you for the rest of your life. No college is the same, and maybe Tulane isn’t for you. But if you are looking to gain valuable intellectual, cultural, and social experiences that can’t be matched anywhere else; then Tulane is the place. Plus, the other colleges will always be there, but you won’t find this experience anywhere else.

Look, am I saying New Orleans is perfect? No way. Could we do without a few things here and there? Absolutely. I’m saying its better. I’m saying that I’ve been a lot of places, and there’s truly nothing like it. The experience that I have taken away from Tulane is incomparable. I grew and matured in ways that leave my friends from home in awe. My parents think that I made the best decision coming to Tulane, where I grew culturally as well an independently. I’m saying that there are good reasons why these students want to come back as soon as possible. I’m saying there are good reasons very few people (if any) are permanently transferring. So those of you who don’t get why we want to come back- stop asking us why, and start asking us when.

Miss you all,
Brett N. Hyman


Blogger TU Mom in the other LA said...

You couldn't have said it better, exactly how my son feels and he's now at a gorgeous, wonderful's not the same though and he can't wait to get to MSY, onto the shuttle and back to 31 McAlister!

8:58 AM  
Blogger patty said...

I'm a freshman from the class of 2009. While i have not had the chance to begin my adventure into Tulane, I am still very drawn to it. Many times i was asked why i picked Tulane. And to this day i cannot put my finger on one spacific reason. When i got the letters and view-books they sent me, I just knew, Tulane was where i wanted to go. In fact, it was the only place i aplied to. For a while i was very unsure if i had made the right desision and on the way down to move in i asked my mom why it was i was even going. Hearing Brett and the other upperclassman talk about NOLA helps though. So i'm still here waiting to go back to a place that holds some mysterious hold on my heart, (obviously not my head).

9:06 AM  
Blogger greenwave said...

Subway? I'm dying to get Chik-fil-a.

10:07 AM  
Blogger patty said...

Hey how is the food in Bruff, Really? I was too broke to get anything but strait Bruff.

10:15 AM  
Blogger nancy s said...

"no one gets it- not parents, not friends from other schools, not even many alumni"

Brett -- a lot of us Moms do "get it"

Moms -- there is a site for you at

Tulane students, alumni, and friends are not excluded, but it is a spot for Moms to share, so be kind. (Some of our more thoughtful posts have come from students.)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Prof. Lopez said...

Hi Brett,
This is your old TIDES professor from way back in freshman year. Loved your post today; keep up the good work. You are right, it is all about family.
Ana Lopez

2:05 PM  
Blogger TU mom - Marynell said...

Great post Brett - from another TU mom who appreciates your site and what you are doing here. And I totally "get it". My son is the most prized part of my life, and I have no fear of putting him on the first plane back to Tulane - it's where his heart is, and so it's where he needs to be. When people ask me how he is doing at his temporary school, I say fine - but he seems "flat". He's not miserable, things are going fine - but fine isn't enough! He's lost his spark, or left it back on Broadway!
I miss it too -- looking forward to a Sunday afternoon watching the Eagles game at the Boot with my son's gang -- January can't come soon enough!

2:14 PM  
Blogger Emily1953 said...

Let me join the moms who "get it!" We raised our daughter to be adventurous, to travel, and to explore the cultures of the world. Her older brothers have both studied abroad (one immediately post 9/11) and she looks forward to her own experiences around the globe. She has plenty of friends whose parents drew a circle on the map that extended 100 miles from home and told their kids, "That's it." Not her style or ours. It's not a surprise that she chose Tulane and NOLA or that she's eager to get back.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Tulane Sophomore said...

After spending the last three weeks at Fordham University, i have figured out the difference between how they feel about their school and how we feel about Tulane.
Everyone likes it at fordham, and thinks it is fun and a good school.
The difference is at Tulane, we don't just like it and have a good time, we LOVE it and have the time of our lives there. We feel it is irreplaceable.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Sammi said...

To Patty -

The mystery is part of the reason why we love Tulane. If you ask anyone, they can try to put their fingers on it, they can try to describe it like Brett has, but they will all tell you that there's just something that they can't describe about it and about New Orleans. It's that something that pulls on our hearts that the head will never be able to describe.

6:42 PM  
Blogger rob d said...


Bruff is not that bad. It will get repetitive towards the end of the semester so save your pennies to eat elsewhere every once in a while. In my opinion, Boot burgers and pizza are the best if your looking for options. Otherwise, Bruff is not a bad choice... been eating there for two years now.

7:22 PM  
Blogger greenwave said...

The key to eating at Bruff is that you have to become creative. For example, Pizza Bagels are delicious. You just take a bagel, go to the pizza person, have them spread some pizza sauce, cheese, and maybe some pepperoni on it, pop it into the microwave, and there you go. You can also make pannini sandwiches using the waffle iron, but you have to watch out because the Bruff workers will yell at you if they catch you.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Herman said...

You dont truly appreciate Bruff until you have to sneak back in to eat there. It definitely gets old eating there everyday freshman year, but you miss it once you don't eat there for a few weeks.

1:18 AM  
Blogger rollwave said...

My opinion of Bruff is that it is terrible. The backroom is atrocious particularly the wash and dry room. Bruff considers a plate clean after it has been rinsed off with some hot water and a little soap. On several occasion i have seen unclean plates and dirty cups. The food is mass produced and very bland. If you ask me your better off not getting a meal plan and just going to the supermarket and ordering out.

1:31 AM  
Blogger momof2009er said...

Thanks, Brett, for your heartfelt insights into the Tulane community. My son spent the summer connecting with other Tulane freshmen-to-be on facebook, and already the connection was ubelievably strong. He's happy at his temporary university this semester, but he can't wait to get back to NO.

7:26 AM  
Blogger greenwave said...

I just read a pretty good article on, sorry I don't have the link but it talks about some of the businesses in Uptown opening. Apparently, Slim Goodies is already open. Winn Dixie on Tchops is going to open pretty soon. The city expects potable water in the dry area of New Orleans in about 3-5 weeks. Things are slowly looking better, and with 3 more months until school starts, I think we will be fine.

It's only been 1 month since Katrina and look at how much has been accomplished. Once things like electricity and potable water are restored to the city, progress will be exponential.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I'm a freshman in the class of 2009 and i couldn't agree more. People don't get why i'm so obsessed with coming back but it only took me a week to fall in love with the city and with Tulane. can't wait for the spring

8:53 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Sonia said...

I've been reading this blog religiously from London and I have to say that Brett is completely on the right page. As a junior in a study-abroad program (that I was not planning on going on) I have been feeling a lot of excitement for my new surroundings, but a longing for home. Home being the USA, but more specificallly my house beside The Boot in hot, smelly NOLA. Couldn't have been said better.

9:54 AM  
Blogger 2007Student said...

I'm a junior this year and I can't wait to get back to New Orleans. I hadn't realized it until you said it but I have created a stronger bond with New Orleans than I have with my own home town. I love where I come from but it's nothing compared to NOLA. I'm so excited about President Cowen annoucing his plan for spring semester, I'm already counting down the weeks until the fall semester ends. This site helps keep me encouraged about this whole situation and I just wanted to say thanks and that you're right on target with this article, I can agree with everything that you said. It's funny because my mom loves you too. She's on a first name basis, "Brett said...". My whole family supports you and Tulane.
And as a side note, Bruff isn't that bad, the school I'm at now is a little bit better foodwise (run by the same company) but they pay almost 2000$ more than we do a semester! Bruff gets boring but it's totally a lifestyle situation on deciding if you want to keep it past freshman year. I like being able to run and grab some dinner in 30 mins at 8:30 at night instead of trying to make myself a frozen dinner. But it's a personal thing.

4:19 PM  
Blogger 2007Student said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:19 PM  
Blogger nicole said...

so i've never posted before, but i put your blog on a website i had to make for my computer class here at IIT and i was reading today's post during class. Needless to say I had tears in my eyes right in the middle of computing for architects. I had to let you know that EVERY SINGLE PERSON feels the exact same way about tulane. I keep telling myself this is only one semester, but i feel like a part of me is missing and i just can't function without it. keep up the good work brett!

5:04 PM  
Blogger ben said...

Is this guy getting a kickback from Tulane or Nagan?

7:55 PM  
Blogger Sammi said...


None of that, dude. Keep the topic on loving Tulane or all that is Bruff.

And, by the way, Bruff really isn't that bad. It's all about the creativity and knowing when certain specials are. Red Beans and Rice (with hush puppies) = MONDAYS. Gumbo = FRIDAYS. And, the weekend brunches that go until like one or three in the afternoon, are amazing. You just have to figure out what you like and when it is. And if it's not exactly what you like, figure out how to do it.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Proud TU Mom said...

January can't get here soon enough for my son. He's adjusting but misses his "Tulane Family" too. I saw on the Tulane website a picture of students at the last football game holding a sign that says "Tulane Lives". I would love to have a t-shirt that has that saying on it. I think it would be a big hit.

5:44 AM  
Blogger JohnMc said...

First off, your posting from Sept 26 was perfect....I am a 1991 Tulane grad and I can tell you that as the years pass, more and more I realize that Tulane provides a unique and full experience that is incomparable to that of other universities.

To current students (especially freshmen): Many universities can give you a good academic education. But Tulane provides a FULL academic education, a social education (i.e. maturity), a cultural and historical perspective, and something extra (lagniappe!) -- something intangible that you carry with you everyday for the rest of your life...

Please show your commitment, trust the administration, and return to will better off for doing so...

8:08 AM  
Blogger mofo senior said...

Wow, so well said Brett...I truly feel that there really is something about the NO and Tulane. And its really cool that every student 'gets it'. I mean, we always have the BEST college stories when we go home, our high school friends don't even try to compete, and when they come to visit? Sold! "Wow, you guys actually go to school here?"...They have no idea.

I agree that its not like this tangible thing that you can place a finger on, but I do think it has something to do with an amazing balance between the city and our university. A heck of a lot of crazy fun, but students will finish their homework and get their studying done before going out (see if this happens at your local state school...)!

Students who decide to attend Tulane want the VERY cool experience of New Orleans but also have a strong academic focus and really appreciate the opportunity to obtain a degree from a prestigious, well-known university.

See you all in Jan! Cannot wait!

8:13 AM  
Blogger Sammi said...

So far, two of the best (comical) things that I've heard about Tulane out of all of this:

Tulane's motto - I thought it was a good idea at the time.

I can't remember how often I've heard that. And...

Study hard, play hard.

Nothing else has to be said. We all know how true it is...

8:48 AM  
Blogger greenwave said...

I always thought the Tulane motto was "first we out think you, then we out drink you"

9:08 AM  
Blogger noladevin said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only crazy person that has been more homesick for New Orleans than they ever were for their actual hometown. My freshman year I didn't go home till Christmas and I never once felt homesicke. Now I've been away from NOLA for a month and I can't stand it. I definalty believe in voodoo cause that city has its spell on me.

9:51 AM  
Blogger poojones said...

there is no "out thinking" at tulane
i can personally say many state school classes have been more challenging and thought provoking than most of my tulane classes. By the way I am premed and engineering. Dont try to sell people on how tulane is this prestigous university when its not. Its a good school especially given the area, but dont oversell it. In fact why are you even selling it? I hope someone kicks the shit out of your ferry cheerleading ass when we get back to school for being such a douchebag. Leave those long messages for how much you "love" tulane for your diary.

Im sure you will delete this too.

i love tulane but you are single handedly removing the desire and anticipation to go back to tulane in january. I understand this is your blog, bet lets keep it a blog and not a diary of your emotions.

10:51 AM  
Blogger JohnMc said...

poojones...if you don't like it, then don't really is that simple....

And for the record, Tulane is prestigious (btw, you spelled it wrong)....many very successful business leaders, authors, attorneys, academics, and politicians went to Tulane.....

11:11 AM  
Blogger ncgwmom said...

poojones--check your facts before you denigrate a respected institution. Graduate school placement, success rate of graduates, ranking, many facts provide concrete evidence against what you posted in such an inarticulate fashion.

The only thing I still don't "get" is why people feel the need to trash a school they aren't required by law to attend.

11:15 AM  
Blogger lauren n said...

Brett, I think you are my hero! I'm at LSU for the semester, and no one in Baton Rouge understands how much I miss New Orleans (I'm originally from right outside the city). I'm so glad I have something to show these people that explains why I can't wait to go back! Thanks for the great site!

12:29 PM  
Blogger poojones said...

i said i love tulane...are you really that retarded

1:05 PM  
Blogger mofo senior said...

Poojones..ferry as in boat? You're an idiot. Get your insults/spelling right before so sweetly sharing your worthless premed/engineering thoughts on education.

1:10 PM  
Blogger emilyfaye said...

hey now...

poojones may need to take an english class, but i don't agree that tulane is necessarily a "work hard, play hard" kind of place. i've attended several other colleges and have found tulane's academics to be mostly unremarkable. in fact, i definitely want to meet with advisors in both my majors, as i've been pretty unimpressed. but that's not really the point right now. i think we all have a lot of respect for what our school is going through right now, and we all love it for reasons academic and otherwise, but we can be honest about some of its shortcomings, too. debate is one of the hallmarks of a lib arts education, and we don't have to agree about the rigorousness of the school's academics to all benefit from the school's programs. also: whoever was asking about bruff: holy god. i ate there for one semester and it was awful. i have encountered two gastrointestinal parasites in time i spent in latin america, but i have never found anything quite as horrifying as whatever's brewing in bruff. i would avoid it at all costs.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Michael Jordan said...


I am a Junior Tulane student in London. Unlike most students I had not been checking this blog until my dad told me how great it was today. He and I both really enjoyed your post. Have been in London for eighteen days now and this whole experience still seems surreal to me. I just wanted to add that my time at Tulane has also already provided me with lifetime experiences and caused an enormous amount of personal growth. To me, any place that has this type of effect on you is worth going back to. I am pretty confident that most students feel the same as I do about our college. Going to enjoy every minute of my unexpected time in Europe, but can not wait to be back second semester!

Jon Sider

2:37 PM  
Blogger another texas mom said...

I stopped reading poo's post when he started using poo mouth. Any post that requires obscene language to shock people into reading it really isn't worth reading.

3:47 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

At 2:37 PM another texas mom said...

"I stopped reading poo's post when he started using poo mouth. Any post that requires obscene language to shock people into reading it really isn't worth reading."

Yeah, you could mention that to the so called 'realitycheckmate' posting on my blog. He may read this blog, but doesn't post here because he'd be required to register, and it doesn't appear he wants to do that.

I'm not sure what he's afraid of. Maybe its because all he has done is personally attack me on my blog, which I could really care less about.

12:18 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

Advice from Bill Gates

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents
had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and
very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that
on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

If you agree, pass it on.
If you can read this - Thank a teacher!
If you are reading it in English - Thank a soldier!!

12:23 PM  
Blogger tdokurno said...

Positive waves. Every student has a piece of New Orleans heart in them and are anxiously awaiting to return. Be supportive, find creative solutions to difficulties,
show the world what Tulane is made of.

2:50 PM  
Blogger TU'99 said...

I am a Tulane alumna currently living in the DC area and I "get it." I originally chose to attend Tulane on little more than a whim. I was so homesick for Virginia my first semester that I left school at Christmas, intending to never return. After a couple of weeks I began to think I had made a mistake. I returned to Tulane that fall and never again regretted it. Tulane and New Orleans changed my life.

I remember when Hurricane Georges was supposed to hit NO in my senior year. I lived off campus and while the highways were clogged with desperate evacuees, my roommate and I hunkered down for what turned out to be...a beautiful, sunny day. Perfect NO weather. I think about that and I thank God that y'all had more sense than we did.

I love that city still to this day. The places, the history, even the smells. All of which would mean nothing without the culture and people. Having wisely evacuated to safer places, it is now up to all of you to return and rebuild the city and the school. You have a hard job and a wonderful opportunity ahead of you. Cleaning up will tax your muscles and dealing with your losses will strain your emotions. But you also have the chance to change those parts of NO and TU that weren't good. I can only hope that those people that didn't love NO will remain wherever they have settled and that only those who do love her will return and rebuild.

A part of me envys you. Of course, the other part of me prefers hot showers and clean water...

I hope to return to NO someday and while I know it won't be the same as it was in my day :) it will still be a beautiful and wondrous place, unlike any other in the world.

11:56 AM  

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