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.
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).
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!