One of the things I always wanted to achieve in life was to wear a cap and gown to receive my Undergraduate degree, yesterday that dream finally came true in the most beautiful and surreal surroundings of Carlisle Cathedral.
First of all, I’ve spoken before about the subject I chose and the future I’m choosing against it, of which today I FINALLY completed my MSc application form after waiting what seemed like an age to get my references back; so in other words I won’t bang the drum too much in this post about the actual aspects of Level 6 studying, maybe save that for another rainy day. Today is all about the pomp and occasion which us Brits do oh so well in the form of a tradition which feels like a right of passage for those passionate about furthering their education.
Now disclaimer alert, I don’t feel everyone should be compelled to go to University. It isn’t for everyone, a lot of it wasn’t for me as most of the experience relies on social interaction and generally going out and about which is so above and beyond my own personal comfortable level. However, I love studying, I love to learn about subjects that interest me on a basic level so University is a personal choice of furthering my skill set and passion for learning. I believe at eighteen it shouldn’t be a necessity to go to University, but likewise at sixty you shouldn’t feel that it isn’t a choice for you anymore. We are fortunate in this country to have education so readily available to all, no one has to be exempt from the experience and so if becoming a higher ed student is something you wish to achieve; then I’m here to say with full valor, that it is absolutely possible.
Disclaimer over and done with, now on to the day itself. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one on my course to turn up, (which could have easily happened) so there was a small group of us in which to stand aside and enjoy the ceremony together. And as I alluded to before, we Brits are known for tradition with a dash of a grandeur sense of occasion, and they brought it in sackfuls yesterday.
The event itself took place in Carlisle Cathedral which is the most beautiful setting; a ceiling covered in stars (much like Potter’s Great Hall), an organ playing as a procession of students walked down the central aisle before we one by one we had the opportunity to go up and take centre stage with the Vice Chancellor of UOC (University of Cumbria) before doing a lap of the Cathedral back to our seat.
The ceremony was closed by a Performing Arts choir who performed an acapella/acoustic version of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) which in itself nearly reduced me to tears as it’s one of mine and my Pa’s favourite songs. But after quickly pulling it together we all, as a procession left the Cathedral to rapturous applause from families, friends and the academic staff stood in the entrance hall.
In true Carlisle fashion, the heavens opened in which I got drenched whilst running back to bring the Land Rover round, but we managed to quickly grab a few photos in the Cathedral grounds (though Ma was behind the camera, and she has an artistic value for making everything blurry somehow).
Due to the long drive each way we decided to forego the reception drinks and instead make for a graduation evening supper at Wetherby Services on the A1; I couldn’t have asked for a better end to such a surreal but wonderful dream come true.
I’ve been spoilt rotten the past few days with cards, flowers and gifts from my loved ones who are taking their valuable time to congratulate me on this special occasion. It hasn’t yet sunk in for me that this has actually happened, I’ve wanted to complete this level of study for years but personal reasons, mainly my mental health, has stopped me or given me a lack of confidence in feeling compelled to do so. Now though, it feels like relief, and a new beginning to move on to the passions that have taken hold in my professional and personal life. And boy, I can’t wait to see where my MSc studies take me.