St. Thomas University students Cassidy Chisholm and Diana Chávez reflect on what it’s like to leave their hometowns but also remain thankful for where they grew up:

From small-town New Brunswick:

When leaving your hometown after graduating from high school, what are your intentions? Do you plan on going to university and never coming back to the place you called your home for so many years? Or do you hold it near and dear to your heart, carrying the name of your childhood home like a badge of honour?

I, for one, always knew that I would leave my hometown of Chipman, New Brunswick after I graduated. And although I wish I could stay in New Brunswick to start a family, I know that it won’t be in my best interest in the future.

I love where I come from. No matter what anybody says, New Brunswick is beautiful. I can say the same for where I grew up.

Chipman is your run-of-the-mill, home-grown village which boasts a population of no more than 1,200. However, just because it’s tiny doesn’t mean it lacks any appeal.

The people on the streets are always willing to offer a helping hand, or even just a smile. Donations are contributed from businesses and neighbours alike because everyone wants to see our little home flourish. When a business gets shut down or burns to the ground (which happens quite often), another is put up in it’s place shortly after.

It’s the perseverance of the people that makes me proud to call a small village my home. We may not have the best sports teams, but every athlete makes an effort to do their best. We may not have a lot of businesses, but the ones we do have are supported heavily by the community. We may not have a movie theatre, but we do have the grandeur of the Salmon River and the sight of the setting sun as a fire-pit crackles.

Don’t take your hometown for granted. Find what makes it your home, whether it’s the people, the landscape, or the atmosphere, because it’s a part of you even when you leave.

Although my home is merely an hour away from Fredericton, I still hold it close to my heart, just as if I lived millions of miles away, because one day I just might.

From big-city Ecuador:

“Hey, where are you from?”
“Ecuador.”
“Sorry?”
“Ecuador, South America?”
“Oh, yeah, yeah, you’re a long way from home!”

These words have been my constant companion during the past few days. For some people, Ecuador doesn’t exist on the map, let alone my hometown of Quito. But for me, Quito is my everything.

With its day-to-day noise, bright city lights and warm-hearted people, you can never get bored in Quito. I could list a thousand things that I miss from my city: the architecture from downtown, the food, and the oh-so-magical traditional music. But above all, I miss the sky’s color. It’s the most beautiful shade of blue you will ever find. You feel as if you can see the ocean above you.

I believe each and every one of the international students has a Quito of their own — a city located far, far away that they miss every day. A city that has a unique and special meaning for them and for nobody else.

I also believe that most international students, if not all of them, try to find a little piece of their cities in Fredericton, specifically at St. Thomas University. After all, we chose STU for a reason. We decided to not only leave our cities and countries, but to explore a new adventure somewhere else.

Personally, I came to STU because I fell in love with it from the very beginning, since the moment I learned about it at a university fair. It is so much more than I thought it would be. It offers a familiar and comfortable environment where you can express what you think without anyone judging you and also receive an exceptional education.

Most international students come from countries that are not as well situated as Canada, politically and economically speaking. Ecuador is currently in the middle of a tense political situation, and I hope that with the education from St. Thomas University, I will be able to help my country in some way. I truly believe that all international students have that thought in mind.

STU certainly feels like home. I have found a second family here, and most importantly, myself. I brought a little piece of Quito with me to share with others, and ended up winning little pieces from different cities across the world.

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