Monday, 7 May 2012

Graduating with Gusto

So, as of yesterday, I'm finally able to say that I have graduated from Oxford University! Hooray!  It was a bit bitter-sweet graduating on Sunday - most of my yeargroup graduated the day before, all together, so I didn't get to join in the mass celebration in the same way; but, on the other hand, I got to graduate with three of my favourites, and the ceremony only took 25 minutes as it was just a little, college affair. It was so lovely - I'm really not a fan of long, official things, so it was great to have the experience, but in a contracted fashion! It turns out we'd actually been graduated the day before at the big official do, in absentia, but we got to go through the motions the next day for the lols of it.

The day began with my twinny (not actually my twin, for those of you who are confused about my familial make-up, but my friend Heth, who happens to rock the March 28th birth along with me), who'd been staying with me for the weekend, and we were soon joined by the actual familials. We then bussed ourselves into town (not a favourite past-time of mine, but it would have been weird to cycle alongside them all...), and headed to Jesus.

First off, we collected our gowns from Simon, in the chapel.
Putting on the gown
Thanks to Jenni G for taking photos

Thanks to Jenni G for taking photos

 After that commenced a nice long session of taking photos and general milling...such fun! 
Finally allowed to *wear* the mortarboard, along with a photo-smile...
Thanks to Dad for taking photos

Joyful with Heth and Emma
Thanks to Jenni G for taking photos
Before the ceremony we had to have our briefing in hall from the Dean and Deputy Dean of Degrees. The Dean began 'It is essentially our job to guide you to the Seldonian Theatre to receive your degrees...though if I'm honest, if you can't manage that on your own then you probably don't deserve them...', which set the tone nicely for the very relaxed next couple of hours.

The ceremony itself was a delight - a nice little speech from Krebs (largely about the future, and how we need to look after the planet - Biologist appreciation there), then we each had our names read out, and walked to the front to receive our certificates. This was a great time to listen out for excellent names - full names read out, of course. I certainly don't think I won, but there were some corkers. I mean, who needs two middle names?! The Deputy Dean of Degrees, who read all our names out, I think is wasted in her current role, and should instead be on some tv competition like X-Factor, or something. She was amazing. Boomy. "Emily....Victoria....STURGESS...!".  I felt epic going up to get that certificate. Epic, I tell you.
This is my overly-excited 'I have a degree' face
Thanks to Dad for taking photos

Attempting to warm up my big sib
Thanks to Dad for taking photos
After the ceremony we went back to college for a drinks reception (drinking champagne in a gown - it's just the taste of freedom, really...! I had a rush of trashings nostalgia as I felt the bubbles go straight to my head, and my knees...), then had lunch in a big marquee tent on second quad. It somehow managed to make second quad feel massive. Our surprise was that I was one of three students with the privilege of being invited to bring my guests to sit on High Table with our college priciple, Lord Krebs. The likely explanation for this is because I'm a Biologist, which is Krebs' subject, so we had a nice bit to do with him over our time there, so I was someone he knew - but it was still a surprise, and a treat!It was fun to get back into the formal-dinner mind set, which I haven't done since I left last year; and it gace me a little posh Oxford-y thrill to work my way through the cuttlery from the outside,in, and make polite conversation with intelligent grown-ups I didn't really know. So Oxford. So nostalgic.

I'm now feeling incredibly emotional...having gone through the official rigmarole, and had a really fun graduation day that had been preceeded by a really fun couple of days catching up with everyone who was around for theirs too, I've now had a quiet day to reflect on the fact that my time at Oxford University is really officially done now. I've got the certificate to prove it, and everything. 

I think I can honestly say that the three years I spent there were the hardest three years I've had so far, all things considered; but they were without doubt the best. I am so proud of what I accomplished - and thank God daily for the strength He gave me to get through everything. And I'm so proud of what all of my friends have achieved too, it was quite a journey for us to have walked together.

Krebs mentioned in his speech how once you become a member of Jesus college you never leave. While this is a technical truth, I think I'll feel it too. Even when I don't have friends still in college to pop in and see, I think I'll always feel like I belong there. People say that people don't find community in many places anymore: well, I've definitely experienced one right there.

Ok, I'm sure I'll spend the rest of my evening being nostalgic, but to cheer things up at the end, I'll provide you with a Victoria Wood song that had me and Heather in stitches this weekend. "I liked big muscles, you were thin and lanky; I liked nice manners, you were far too cranky; you blew your nose and then looked in your hanky..." - It Would Never Have Worked.

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