I am a big believer in finishing what I start, and so June 22, 2013, so having matriculated in Oxford back in October 2011, I headed back to the city of dreaming spires to partake in the 800-year tradition of an Oxford graduation.
Below is my feeble attempt to capture the amazing event in a few words and pictures.
Wearing this attire -the advanced student gown-in Oxford could mean any of several things: from matriculation, to taking an exam, to attending a formal dinner, to going for a ball, to preparing for graduation.
In my case, it’s preparing for graduation. Being my fourth graduation (I know right), I thought had gotten the hang of the ceremony, but Oxford is in a world of its own.
You show up at your college wearing the advanced student gown, and after a brief talk (during which you have to remove your hood)regarding the very loooong history of the graduation ceremony , you are handed a bag containing your graduation gown which you are forbidden to wear as you have not graduated yet.
In true English fashion, there is a breakfast of tea and scones, and then you begin the long procession to the Sheldonian theatre.
Of course, it’s not an Oxford graduation unless it rains!
You enter through the Bodleian Library and Divinity School ( where the hospital scene in one of the Harry Porter’s movies was filmed).
There is a pre-talk by the Vice-Chancellor in English (thankfully explaining what the program will be like.
After much invocation in Latin( the whole conferment ceremony is conducted in Latin, but the students no longer have to say that much in Latin, thank God)
There is a lot of bowing from the waist and curtsying after which the dean says some stuff in Latin which no-one understands, and pleads with the Vice Chancellor who then asks in Latin -Do you swear to uphold the principles of the university of Oxford-to which we reply in Latin-
Do fidum- Yes I swear.
At this point, the VC approves the graduation , then realizes we are not properly attired as graduates and then sends us out for the cloth changing ritual.
We go back into the convocation room ( which is where Nelson Mandela received his honorary doctorate) and replace our advanced student gown with the colorful graduate gown
Then there is more bowing, curtsying and Latin before the ceremony is finally over and we officially become Oxonians!
You can read more about the history of the ceremony here.