Graduation

It’s been over a week since I graduated but until now I’ve still been somewhat reeling.

When dealing with a tough essay or an overwhelming reading list I used to imagine my graduation day and how amazing it would feel; I even used to picture standing with my friends in our robes, and it would give me an extra burst of motivation.

Then suddenly it was my graduation day and it all seemed to go by in a blur. To clarify, I had a great day but it was so surreal and overwhelming that I mostly remember it in snapshots: my friend and I first seeing ourselves in our robes; shaking the vice-chancellor’s hand; throwing our mortarboards.

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It’s a fun day but you do seem to spend your time running from one thing to another, anxious that you might miss something important with your friends whilst also balancing seeing your family.

The ceremony itself felt the most official and ‘proper’ bit of the day – standing around a campus you know very well in robes seems odd but the actual conferring of the degrees was the moment when I really felt, ‘ahh I’m graduating!’.

I’m pleased to say no one tripped over on the stairs, which was something we had all been very anxious about, although my new shoes did rip off a bit of skin the size of a 10p piece whilst I was walking across the stage – what glamour! (I don’t think anyone noticed as the adrenaline carried me through, but I might have a slight scar to always remind me of my UEA graduation).

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Fun fact: our robes were designed by the artist and costume designer Cecil Beaton

The people receiving honorary degrees during our ceremony were Peter Wilson and the poet and translator George Szirtes. Both gave interesting speeches which addressed the unique challenges our generation will be facing; what I remember most from Peter Wilson’s speech was the time he had to jump from a burning boat into shark infested waters, but Szirtes discussed issues such as our country’s response to the refugee crisis. The poet was himself a refugee at the age of 8, fleeing to Britain from Hungary. To a round of applause he reminded the audience of the gifts that refugees bring. Whilst refugees should never have to prove themselves worthy of saving, it was still a salient reminder that these people are our future artists and engineers. They bring immeasurable value to our country and culture.

I have a few posts about Grad Week and my MA plans still to publish but for now I’m off to North Wales for a week where I can indulge in reading books I’ve been putting off during term time!

School’s (not quite) out for summer

Summer breaks often feel a very unsettling time for me – I enjoy them of course but the stripping away of the structure that comes with an academic term, the daily jobs that need doing, the steadily approaching deadlines, can make me feel rather rudderless.

However, so far, I have been keeping myself very busy. I have just spent the last 2 weeks in London taking part in UCL’s Summer Classics School (aka a crash course in Latin).

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The Bloomsbury campus is gorgeous with a beautiful bookshop and a lovely union run café, it’s also within walking distance of places such as the British Museum and the daily food market on Tottenham Court Road. However, for all its beauty and the exciting places within reach I still don’t think I would have enjoyed going to university in London (the tube in all the recent hot weather was unbearable). Norwich is gorgeous and has quite enough going on for me.

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Whilst in London I also took the chance to see some theatre – I would have been an embarrassment to the Drama Society otherwise. I was fortunately able to get a £25 ticket, only booking the day before, to see Robert Icke’s production of Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre. If you’re in London and get a chance it’s a simply stunning production that’s kept me thinking about it for days afterwards (Here’s a review which I think really captures my feelings towards it). I was also tickled that during the show I kept remembering snippets of my second year Shakespeare module – clearly some of it went in and stuck!

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I’m now back from London but am turning straight around and heading off to Norwich because tomorrow I’m graduating! I will of course make a post soon about what I get up to during Grad Week, so watch this space.