Special Edition: Graduation Day

Well it’s done now, my educational career has come to an end, and I am no longer in statu pupillari.  On Saturday I graduated.  It was a poignant day, and the realisation that I was leaving the calm and sheltered harbour of Cambridge behind for the tempestuous high seas of the real world that will undoubtedly be fraught with various (presumably metaphorical rather than literal) Maelströms, Krakens, and other such delights.

The day started with a service in the College chapel, with a couple of classic hymns (such as Jerusalem and Tell Out, My Soul), readings, and an address by the Director of Studies for Medicine.  After that, the photo in Front Court, followed by a dress check by the Head Porter and Praelector.  We then all processed formally to the Senate House where our degrees get conferred.

The Senate House

The Senate House

It was at this moment, as we were waiting outside that it decided to pour with rain.  We entered the Senate House all soaking wet, and there we waited for the graduation to take place.  Owing to the large number of Colleges that comprise the University (31 in total), there is a strict order.  King’s, Trinity, and St. John’s Colleges go first due to ancient tradition, then the rest follow in order of foundation date, with Peterhouse (est. 1284) first, all the way through until Homerton College (which only gained full College status – by getting its Royal Charter – in 2010) last of all.

The Cambridge graduation ceremony dates back in part to the foundation of the university in 1209, and so is quite unlike most universities’ ceremonies.  Instead of walking across a stage, shaking some dignitary’s hand, getting your certificate and going off, it’s rather different.

People are arranged in rows of four, alphabetically, and in the order of precedence for degrees.  While you wait, the Head of your College enters, accompanied by some university officials carrying two mediæval maces.  Once the entry formalities have concluded, the graduation starts.

Your group proceeds forward to your College’s Praelector who presents his right hand.  Each person holds (with their right hand) one of his fingers.  He then says to the head of your College (in Latin), that he’s presenting these people for whichever degree(s) they’re getting, as they have proven themselves in both studies and in character.  After that, individually, you kneel in front of the head of your College and put your hands together as if you were praying.  The head of your College then puts his hands around yours, and (again in Latin) formally admits you to your degree(s).  Then you rise, take a step back, bow to him, and walk out the side door of the Senate House where you collect your certificate and shake the hand of your College’s Senior Tutor.

Anyway, once all that had been concluded, we headed back to College for a reception and to say some final farewells.  Afterwards, my family and I went punting on the Cam, and visited the Geology Department one last time prior to returning to College to finish packing and heading home.

It was a great day, and a truly memorable one.  I have no doubts that I shall miss the University, my College, and perhaps most of all, my Department.  On the upside, there are extremely strong alumni relations at Cambridge (presumably owing to the shared trauma of completing the Tripos), and there’s a University-wide alumni festival every year in September (which I fully intend to attend this year). There’re also things run by both College and the Department too, so rather than being a goodbye, it’s more of an à bientôt.

Advertisements

Busy Times!

Well, what a lot has happened since I last posted around three weeks ago!  Exams came and went, the viva voce came and went, and results also came and went.  I’m pleased to say that I got a 2.i, so that was an enormous relief.  I opted to wait for the results to be posted publicly on the Senate House boards, rather than check online which was a bit scary, but definitely worth it I think!

It’s currently May Week here, and I’ve been lucky enough to go to two May Balls (Robinson and Jesus).  A great time was had at both, and if I get round to it, I’ll do a write up of each (maybe).

Apart from that, I’ve been relaxing a lot, eating lots of good food (the highlight being some fried wild mushrooms that JW collected), along with the usual post-Cambridge exam Pimm’s and croquet combination. Oh, and visiting the pub, a lot.

Anyway, today’s the Sedgwick Club “May Ball”, so that ought to be a lot of fun.

Looking ahead to next week, known as “Grad Week” (as it’s the week where everyone except the graduands leave Cambridge), I’m off to Wales for a Part III holiday from Sunday to Tuesday.  Then my graduation takes place on Saturday week which is quite a sad moment really, as it means I’ll be finally leaving this amazing place, and will no longer be in statu pupillari.

Looking Ahead

Well, it’s been a long time since my previous post.  I’ve mainly spent that watching cat videos online revising, but as my first exam was today, the calm before the storm has finally ended (thank goodness).

So, what’s the timetable looking like?  Well, not too shabby really, and everything ties in rather well.  A week from today I’ll have finished my exams (and therefore my degree), while two weeks today is results day.  A month from now is graduation day, and two months from now I start my job.  Between graduation and work I’ve got a couple of holidays planned, one domestic and one foreign (which of course I’ll document here).  Not a bad road map eh?  All I need to do now is survive the next four exams (tomorrow morning, Friday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning).  I’ve also got a viva voce on the 9th, but that doesn’t really count…

Er, what?

So there I am, in the UL writing an essay about volcanic eruption styles, when I get politely accosted by a member of the Japanese film crew that’s been in the library for the past few days.  She asked if I was free to attend a sample philosophy lecture for an hour or so as they needed more students to attend for their film.  Feeling procrastinatorial and helpful, I agreed.

Confusion does not even begin to cover the lecture’s contents.  Words such as “metonymical”, “epistemology”, “hypernomia”, “similitude” and “phalanstery”, along with phrases like “the theory of sublimation” and (my personal favourite) “the binary praxis of neoexistentialism” were bandied about as casually as a football at a kickabout in the park on a Bank Holiday. Other topics included the causes of foot fetishism and deja vu (and that they’re probably caused by the same thing apparently), although someone suggested deja vu is caused by experiencing whatever it is that’s causing the deja vu in a previous life, while another “plausible” explanation was that your spirit flows through time and space in a fluid fashion.

I’m still confused by the whole thing really.  Is philosophy really like that, and everything said is totally serious, or was it an elaborate joke?  Slightly awkwardly, a few jokes were incorporated into the lecture, but (what with me very much being a scientist rather than an arts student) they went completely over my head.  There was a reason why I gave up the arts at school.  Now I can confirm that was a good move!

Don’t get me wrong though, everyone was very nice.  It’s just that philosophy very much isn’t for me!

Back in the Library

Ah yes, the new term’s begun in earnest, and as such, I’ve been living in the UL for the past week.  I have a nicely simple revision plan, namely, write up all the lecture notes as revision notes, go through all the scientific papers on the reading lists and write down interesting facts from them, and then do about a million past paper essay questions.  I’m currently on the scientific papers bit, which is extremely time consuming, as each lecture has maybe 10 references or so, and there are 48 lectures to go through.  Still, I’ve got a lovely spot in the library.  My usual place on the fifth floor on the south front is sadly no longer very usable, so I’ve retreated to my backup position of being by the tower on the fourth floor.  The view’s quite good, and I can see my other haunt from here (the one I go to once the stacks are shut).  Life at the moment is boring and repetitive, but it’s a means to an end!  A couple of days ago I thought of something quite interesting to write about, but I’ve forgotten what it is, so you’ll have to wait for my memory to de-hopelessify itself!

A Sigh of Relief

Yesterday I had the face to face interview and written test for the company that gave me a phone interview (see my earlier post “The End of Term“), and was told that they’d let me know by the end of next week.  I’m extremely lucky, as they called me this morning to offer me a position as a geophysicist, starting at the end of July.  It’s a huge weight off my mind, as I’ve been rather worried that I’d be one of those many unemployed graduates, desperately finding some work, any work, but now it’s no longer a problem!

I’m really looking forward to starting in three and a bit months’ time, especially as it looks like such an interesting job.  Before then though, it’s only the small matter of the degree, the final bout of the Tripos, as well as all the fun that’ll be coming afterwards to deal with!

The End of Term

Well, that’s it.  My final lecture ever has been and gone, and now it’s the end of term, and I return home on Sunday afternoon.  Only one more term remains, most of which will be taken up with revision (AJ, you know you miss the UL times we had, don’t deny it)!  In other news, various things have been going on!

Yesterday was the Sedgwick Club conference, which is a new thing this year, I guess inspired by the Imperial one that was on in February. It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of interesting talks, as well as being able to catch up with the Oxford geologists (some of whom I met when they came down for the annual Geology varsity football match a couple of weeks ago), as well as meeting some Imperial geologists.

Job hunting still isn’t going especially well.  A graduate geologist job with a company in Cambridge that I was really hopeful for rejected me this morning which was a bit of a pain, but on the upside, I’ve got a phone interview early next week for a job in Woking, so hopefully that’ll go well!  It’d be so handy to have an interesting job already lined up before I graduate, and I’d be able to have a delightfully smooth transition to the real world (where the fun of council tax, mortgages, utility bills and TV licences awaits).  This job looks really interesting too, so fingers crossed that I’m lucky!

I’m off to Spain next week for the ninth and final geology field trip of my degree which should be a lot of fun.  The rocks are pretty diverse, with everything from metamorphic petrology to palæontology being represented.  I’ll bung up some photos of it when I’m back.