Graduating from a university that is 800 years old is no trivial affair. (University of Cambridge) The pomp and circumstance has been perfected over centuries. The are respected and admirable individuals in whose footsteps to follow. There are traditions and protocols to observe.
Dressed conservatively with billowing robes and hood, walking down the cobbled streets of Cambridge, past colleges that date back a few hundred years (or more), in a row with all the other graduates, I found myself thinking about this. Until I reached the central gathering point, where friends and family are gathered, and then I break the ranks to find my friends.
Formal dinners. Robes and hoods. Hoods of certain colours to depict certain achievements. Speeches in Latin. Kneeling, bowing (or curtseying). Flags proudly flying above each college. Photographers everywhere you look. Friends, family, strangers.
These are some of the sights of graduation.
In the speech, there is a part which translates to mean: this individual (who’s holding my finger) is a well-behaved, respectful, studious person and is fit to be admitted into this society. Really? Are you sure about that? Didn’t you see the time I feel off the punt into the river infront of all those German tourists? Didn’t you see our crazy parties on the lawn? Didn’t you see me run across the forbidden grass of some fancy college or climb up fire-escapes or speed through town on a bike with no helmet or lights or get a tattoo?
You’re sure? Well, alright then. Kneel, curtsey, exit into the world of Cambridge alumni.
(As much as I mock it for being a very expensive Harry Potter playground, which it is, it’s also an amazing experience and opportunity that I’ll treasure forever. Enough said)