Fredericton — Backpacking across Europe, Asia or South America has long been considered a rite of passage for new grads, a sort of symbolic venturing into adulthood and independence — usually on the parents’ dime.
Because of COVID-19, though, graduates of New Brunswick universities will be seeking the same wild adventures…but right here in the Picture Province.
“I really want to ‘find myself’ and just get out there and be free,” explained UNB science grad Greg Allen. “I was going to hike all around Europe for the summer, stay in hostels, try to order beer in 10 different languages. Now that’s obviously not going to happen, so I’m going to figure out who I am in New Brunswick. It must be possible, right?”
Allen then pulled a Tourism NB travel guide out of his backpack, closed his eyes, opened to a random page, and planted his finger down directly on an ad for Magnetic Hill in Moncton.
“Huh…well, I guess I’m starting in…Moncton,” he said, mild disappointment registering on his face for a brief moment. “…It could be worse? I bet some of the Europeans I would have met this summer would love to see Moncton! They have that casino and probably a bunch of other stuff too!”
St. Thomas English grad Dierdre Smithson has already embarked on her trip, beginning with the northern regions of the province.
“Visiting Tracadie-Sheila made me realize how fortunate I am to live in Fredericton,” she said. “I’ve been gone a week and have already discovered a lot about myself — such as the fact that I never want to live up here. It’s boring as hell, man. But I think I’ve matured a lot. A year ago I would have had a temper tantrum if this was my big grad trip.
“Next stop is Campbellton,” she continued. “When I saw the news story about all those people up in Quebec actually trying to get into Campbellton — yes, they WANT to be in Campbellton, New Brunswick! — a lightbulb went off for me. Maybe this is actually a desirable spot to do some soul-searching, at least. I don’t need Paris or Barcelona — give me Grand Falls and Boiestown any day!”
Mount Allison economics graduate Michaela Evan is setting out to #exploreNB as early as next week.
“If I don’t find myself now, I’ll have to wait until after my first divorce, when I’ll do the whole ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ thing, but that could be 20 years from now!” she cried. “I don’t want to wait! I even downloaded Duolingo to help me get by in foreign languages, but weirdly, Chiac wasn’t an option.”
Evan’s parents are just thrilled to be keeping their daughter close to home.
“We always promised she could take this grand trip if she graduated at the top of her class; I didn’t think it would happen, but she called our bluff and somehow got a 4.0 GPA,” said her mother, Marie Evan. “With the border closures, she can’t leave the Atlantic Time Zone, which suits me just fine. We can call her for free, any time, and if she gets into trouble, we’re always at most a three-hour drive away.”
“Yeah, we feel bad that the graduation ceremony was over Zoom — I mean, how pathetic is that?” added dad Jeff Evan. “So we’re going to throw in some extra cash for her to stay at the Algonquin or somewhere fancy for a night, maybe even get a lobster dinner in Shediac.
“We’re saving a shit-ton on flights so no matter what we’re in the black on this thing.”