I have the power

8 May
He-Man said it. And now I can say it too.
On Saturday I finally, after 11 months, graduated from university. I passed from the limbo of being a "graduand" (a term I am sure Oxford just made up because they’re so behind on their graduation ceremonies) to being a legitimate graduate.
Twas a very fun day, and a very bizarre one. Fran had me giggling all the way through the ceremony, and here is why.
The only instructions we got about what we were supposed to do were delivered by a very vague, but very amusing guy called the Dean of Degrees, who may have already been a little drunk. My favourite bit was when he said our parents would be "rigorously excluded" from the procession to the Sheldonian.
So we all processed down there in our batman gowns (as yet without our hoods), and became a complete tourist attraction for perhaps the final time. The last time we all walked that route was for matriculation, nearly four years ago now. Those heady young days where we didn’t know each other one bit and were worried about how to do our laundry and whether we had to get drunk 7 nights of the week in order for anyone to like us. Strange to be walking it again really – although it’s gone so quickly, that actually seems like a very long time ago.
So, we all sat there in the Sheldonian ready to receive our degrees in the order in which we arrived, depending on how fast we walked. Very organised. Nobody had a clue what we were doing. We watched the people getting their MAs and phDs like hawks to try and work out when we were supposed to bow to whom and where to leave and come back in… The proctors and the pro vice-chancellor (I mean, WHAT does one of those do?) had a whole little conversation in latin. One of the proctors clearly didn’t know any latin and rather painfully read the whole thing off a sheet. The others had a bit of a giggle at one point when one of them clearly made some hilarious grammatical error, or something.
After reading out ALL of our names and pronouncing a good fifth of them correctly, the proctors then had to walk solemnly down the aisle, then turn round and walk solemnly back up it. It was at this stage that slight nerves and a love of the ridiculous made me actually have to choke back my laughter.
A guy carrying a big mace processed very slowly in front of each group of students who came up. After a few groups I suddenly realised that the same guy kept appearing, apparently before he could possibly have had time to leave the hall at the other end. I had a mental picture of him walking very slowly inside, and absolutely then legging it back around to the front door in order to process in a composed and stately manner again before the next lot of students could get there. If so, he was pretty good. Didn’t even break a sweat. Maybe he did lots of training running on a treadmill with a mace in each hand.
Before we knew it, we were all crammed into the aisle, being "presented" by our Dean of Degrees.
"Face the proctor on your right!" someone ordered us. We did. He doffed his cap. We bowed. Someone else doffed their cap. We bowed. Someone else doffed their cap – we missed that one, and had to kind of extend our existing bow in his general direction. One of the proctors then explained something to us in latin. We listened, as if we could understand a word of what he was instructing us, and then shouted back "Don’t feed ’em!" which I was told is latin for "I give you my troth!" or some such.
Now, what he actually said to us in latin was something along the lines of conferring our degrees onto us (hmmm) and, I kid you not, bestowing us with "the power of lecturing"! Awesome. It really was like receiving one of Captain Planet’s superpowers. "Earth, wind, water, fire, lecturing!" You’d better watch out. I could lecture you at any time.
The rather cool bit was that we then filed out of the Sheldonian and nipped out around the back where the porters dressed us in our groovy fluffy hoods, and shooed us back in. So, all dressed up, there was a pretty nice moment where I hobbled back into the Sheldonian between James and David who were all dressed up too, and everyone around us applauded. We made it, guys. The end.
And as soon as we got outside, without being told, we put those flipping hats on. No other student can possibly be so pleased to wear a mortar board at their graduation as the Oxford student who has had to carry it around, but NOT wear it, for the past three years. Those hats were definitely going ON.
It was a shame to give the gowns back. You felt kind of impressive in them. Like the Power of Lecturing really was yours.
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