University of Southampton with First Class honours in BA English.
It’s quite astonishing how quickly the last three years have gone. Reading the posts of Robin and Florence as undergraduates really does make me realise how far I’ve come from the nervous, awkward 18-year-old who started University in September 2009. It seems impossible to celebrate everything that has happened over three years in just one day, but that’s what graduation is basically all about.
We decided to travel down the night before to save time, staying over in a local hotel with my family. The next day, after we had tucked into a hearty continental breakfast, my mum, dad, sister and I all headed onto campus to begin the day, aided by the uni-link park and ride and a very friendly bus driver.
After donning my cap and gown with no problems, getting the obligatory professional photo done in the Students’ Union (which no doubt will be on my parent’s mantelpiece for years to come), and having a family photo session on one of the many patches of green grass that are abundant on campus, I headed over to the University’s Nuffield Theatre to officially graduate with all my classmates. By this time, the sun was already rising high in the sky, and we were beginning to feel really rather hot under our mortar boards! Of course, the blue skies and hot sun were welcome instead of the wind and rain that I had dreaded for months. I was lucky that my graduation had landed on what was apparently the only week of sun we will be seeing this summer.
Me and my family before the ceremony, very proud and very happy!
There had been some speculation that the Nuffield Theatre and Turner Sims concert hall were not ‘grand’ enough as venues for our ceremonies, with a number of articles and debates on the matter. However, upon entering the theatre and finding my seat amongst my fellow graduands, I was impressed with how distinguished the whole place looked. Classical music filled the air as graduands and visitors filled the seats. Within half an hour or less of the ceremony starting, I walked onto the stage, shook the hand of the Chancellor, and collected my certificate. My part in the ceremony was over – without anyone falling down the stairs! Once the grand ceremony had ended and the speeches had been made, we were finally released into the real world as fully fledged graduates of the University of Southampton. A lovely reception was provided, with strawberries and cream and champagne, giving us the chance to mingle, chat and thank many of our lecturers – even having photos taken with those whose help had been vital to our success. I spent the next hour or two posing for yet more photographs with my closest friends and repeatedly throwing my cap into the air to gain that perfect, stereotypical ‘I’ve Graduated!’ Hallmark photograph, before my family and I headed off for a
Caribbean meal and a couple of celebratory cocktails in
the town centre.
Officially a graduate: Me and my certificate after the ceremony
Myself and legendary lecturer Professor John McGavin, who had greatly influenced my decision to make Southampton my first choice back in 2009 after his fantastic open day lecture, and has continued to inspire me throughout my time here.
It was a perfect celebration of the best three years of my life so far. I spent the day with my family, and many of my closest friends; the sun was shining; the Pimm’s was flowing and the whole day went without a problem. The facilities on offer were fantastic, with noodles and ice cream and a BBQ available, and everything seemed to run very smoothly. I must take this opportunity to thank the University for putting on such an incredible day for us all!
My course-mates and I celebrating our graduation!
Many of you reading this may be graduating within the next few years, so the whole process might seem distant / daunting / alien to you. But trust me; the day will suddenly be upon you, and you’ll be abruptly entering the ‘real world’ (though my MA means I’ll be avoiding that for another year!). So here are a few tips that I’ll share with you in preparation for your big day:
- You’ll probably be reluctant to take your robes off before you leave. Make the most of your ability to do accurate impressions of Dracula / Batman / large birds before you have to hand them back.
- Photography sessions with friends and family will take forever, and people will start to get impatient or bored – but you only get a day, so be as snap happy as you want! You can always delete the excess photos later. It’s better to have too many.
- Take plenty of hair pins, safety pins, and blister plasters. It’s a long day, and you and your outfit will need some TLC and attention.
- Make the most of any free drinks / nibbles you may get in any reception you may have. Just because you’ve just graduated doesn’t mean you must lose the love you had as a student of free things!
- You will get awful hat hair afterwards. I don’t think there’s a remedy for that one, aside from going bald… so just try and avoid cameras after you return your robes.
- Make the most of your special day with your family. My dad said that a graduation day is on a par with other big life events such as christenings and weddings, and most people only graduate once. So enjoy their company – they’re going to be proud of you, and will want you to realise that the day is to celebrate the hard work you put into the last three years.
My sister and I on campus post-ceremony
It’s been over a week, and I am still looking over photographs of the day. It was mostly down to my wonderful family, who supported me through three years of joy, excitement, tears, worrying and stress, and who made the day and the time leading up to my graduation as special and exciting as possible. My friends also have a lot to do with it, and my University experience as an undergraduate would definitely not have been the same if it wasn’t for all of them. I know that I have made many friends for life. Though I will (hopefully!) be graduating from my Masters in December 2013, my Graduation this year was definitely the best day of my year and possibly of my life so far. And if the next year is anything like the last three, then I can’t wait to get started!
There are obviously far too many photos that I want to share with you all, so these were only a selection of the best!