Originally, way back in February, Mom's Birthday -- when I gave her my frequent flier miles to come over and visit -- we'd discussed when she could come, and the end result was, due to her teaching Kindergarten, she'd have to come in the summer. So I suggested she come for my MA Graduation. Now, you have to understand some things. Graduations have never meant much to me. I like the photos (this is me after all!) and having friends and family around, but the actual ceremony doesn't mean anything to me. Probably because I'm still working towards something higher, so it's not final. Added to that, it's my second Master's degree! It's really a bit of a 'Been There. Done That. Got The Hat.' I didn't go to my High School Graduation (I was in Greece with Grandma). I didn't go to my BA Graduation (I was in Hawai'i visiting Grandma, Grandpa with Lois). I did go to my Sheffield MA because I was not sure at that point if I'd go on for my PhD, and because my MA group only had 5 people in it, and they were all going to be there, so if I didn't attend, I'd be the only one, and it makes a difference, missing one. There is a similar rational for my attending this second MA graduation. We had quite a small group of MA Sociolinguistics students. And of those, I was particularly close with 3. Of those 3, only one has stayed here at Essex to do a PhD. One has gone off to London and forsaken Academia all together. One had a year out, but is off to York (where he'd done his undergrad) for a PhD. So it was going to be quite a reunion. Plus another friend coming back from Japan for the ceremony. It was definately going to be a reunion. In addition, the only other 2 PhD students Rebecca (my advisor) has were graduating. So I really wanted to be there to support them. (It's a bit lonely in the Data Sessions with just me!) Ok, long story short (Too late! -- Anyone know that quote?) I decided to Walk. When Grandma found out about it, she said she'd come out, too. She's never been able to come out for any of our (mine or Lois') graduations before (though only I've actually Walked before!) so she was quite excited about that, too. So that was another reason to participate in the Ceremony.
So, on the 16th I turned up at the University around 9.00 to meet up with Jenny and get our robes. We bumped into our returning friends Nicholas and Sarah, and we all went to get our photos taken. Following the portraits, we of course had to rearrange the robes, and re-pin them. Unlike the US robes, these are open fronted. That means that they slide all over the place. In addition to that, there's that big hood which constantly pulls back and flops all over. So safety pins are a must. Eventually I managed to meet up with Grandma and Mom. We all went over to the 'Tin Can' or 'Baked Bean Tin' or whatever you want to call it. It's this big, round, silver building. When they first finished it, someone took a photo of it and photoshoped a 'Tesco Value' label on it. (Tescos is a major grocery store. Their Value range is the cheapest you can get.) It said, 'Tesco Value: Stuents in Brine' So funny! Anyway, we headed in there for the ceremony. It was more or less what you'd expect. A lot of sitting and clapping and wishing it were over. Eventually it was. Yeay! We were asked to process out in formation, and just as we were coming down the stairs . . . tragedy struck. I caught my heel and went cartwheeling down the stairs, head first. My robes flying, my hat flew off. I bounced off my friend Nicholas, who was just in front of me, and my friend Sarah tried to catch me (she was just behind me) but I was just too far gone. But between the two of them, they managed to keep me from having any serious injury. Someone collected my mortor board and passed it over, I climbed to my feet, straightened my robes, and finished the procession out. Now, everyone was terribly impressed that I didn't burst into tears out of embaressment, or something, but honestly, I wasn't embaressed! It hurt (in fact, a month later you can still see the bruise on my left shin) and was not exactly fun, but it was an accedent. Nothing to be embaressed about.
Anyway, when we made it out onto Square 5 I finally got the chanse to inspect the wounds. I'd scraped all the skin off my left knee, done a fair job on my left shin and right foot, and just scraped my right knee and palm of my right hand. Nothing too bad, but definately could use a plaster. Jenny (Miss 'Don't Worry, I've Got Everything!') had a marvelous one which got me patched up and no longer bleeding.
After reuniting with our respective family units, we made our way up to the marque that the department had set up for our use. We were given lovely finger foods and drinks (a total blessing because it was quite warm!) and the students who'd earned awards were introduced. Then we had to go out and take at least a million photos (as if we hadn't been doing so all along). The best photos were, of course, the ones where we got to throw the hats. Now, over here PhD's don't have mortor boards. They have squishy round hats called Bonnets. They make excellent frizbees! Hee hee hee . . . 2 more years and it's my turn :D
Eventually we made our way out of the tent and home. I had some of my friends (I'd invited a bunch more, but not all could make it) for a barbeque. It was good fun, and the weather held! Which, at that point in July, was quite an accomplishment.
Now, whilst I've always been a bit reluctant to walk, I love photographs. So I've always gotten the robes for some pictures. At BYU I got this fabulous photo of me sitting on the Cougar (our mascot). When I graduated from Sheffield, Lois and I drove to Tintern Abby (a ruins) for some quintisentially British photos. So this time I decided to go to Dedham. It's a charming town, with a gorgeous church. And it was in the Church I took the photos. So, that's where those other photos came from. They were not taken on the same day as the graduation ceremony.