New Orleans was never a city that was on my radar. At least not until junior year when I joined the marketing club. The American Marketing Association (AMA) hosts their annual collegiate conference every spring in New Orleans and our chapter used this conference as an incentive to entice members to work hard and participate all year long. Your reward? 5 days in New Orleans.
When I didn’t make the points cut-off junior year I wasn’t terribly upset, I wasn’t that close of friends with anyone in AMA and I didn’t know what NOLA really meant. But this year I was determined to make the trip.
We worked hard all semester long to ensure that our small chapter of 25 could stand a chance against chapters as large as 200 students when it came to the competitions and awards. After all the extra hours that had been put, during the busiest semester for what seemed like everyone in the club, boarding our flight at 6 AM on a Wednesday in March felt like a long time coming. Though I had researched the city online, saving notes in my phone with the best restaurants and places to go, I still didn’t quite know what to expect when I finally landed in Louisiana.
Since the conference was going to be taking up most of my time, I wanted to be strategic and make sure I experienced as much of the city as I could in the few hours a day I had free. How was I going to experience NOLA? Through eating and drinking of course.
The first venture inside the city was lunch at The Gumbo Shop, where we were greeted with ‘hi baby’s and ‘y’all’s. Southern charm is alive and well in the south, far different from what I’m accustomed to in the Northeast. While it was certainly different adjusting to southern style, from the language to the slower laid back pace, I would give my first Louisiana experience at 10 out of 10.
With it’s own language, own rules, and own cuisine, New Orleans is a place like no other. The New Orleans experience can’t be defined in just a few words. It probably can’t even be defined in just one blog post, but there are certainly moments that rank the highest. Competing (and winning 3rd place) in a sales competition, holding an alligator, and walking along the Mississippi eating beignets top the list, while live jazz music, Hurricanes, and the French Quarter follow closely behind. I don’t know if or when I’ll get to experience NOLA again, but until then I’ll look back on my first taste of authentic jambalaya with fond memories.