So finally we come to the day of my Graduation. The day started e.a.r.l.y. when I set off at 8 to collect my tickets and gown for my 9.30 am graduation ceremony. I met up with Mum and Grandpa at uni, who had had an even earlier start to drive and get here in time for the ceremony and in particular to get good seats towards the front where they were definitely going to be able to see me, despite their height. I was so proud when I saw them, they were dressed so smartly and lovely for my big day. Grandpa with a beautiful dark green tie with embroidered oak leaves on it, and mum and a lovely black and white floral summer dress. In the queue for my tickets and gown and found Shawnee and Ellen, and was so excited to see them again and to do this collection procedure together. Tickets collected and gowns fitted, we made our way to the bathrooms to get a peak of our new attire for the day. After standing infront of the mirror for a little, adjusting fittings, tidying our faces and hair we went outside and I went to go find Mum and Grandpa again to give them their tickets and keep them company in the queue a while before I go find my own queue to enter into congregation hall, where the ceremony was going to take place. Eventually we all were seated in the hall and the ceremony started. The vice chancellor came followed by a pompus procession of important people, representatives and lecturers, told a lovely speech and congratulated us on our day, gave us some advice for the future before shaking every students hand as they made their way over the stage with their certificate in hand. Going up on stage towards the chancellor, I fought to keep the tears back as a moment of pride and relief hit me like never before. I shook the Vice Chancellors hand, I thanked him and appreciated his genuine look in his face as he congratulated me.
After the graduation ceremony and posing for a school photo we all made our way to the drinks tent where we could have a celebratory glass of sparkly wine, mingle and get photos with all our nearest and dearest. I spent most of the time making sure I got photos with all my friends, knowing that this would be the last chance I would ever have them all together in one spot again. I managed to have a lovely talk with my advisor Jenny Gill too, I was so glad I got to see her before I left and thank her in person. She has been such a support during my time at uni, making sure she always had time when I needed it, to answer questions and worries. Not only that, she was such a lovely supervisor during my dissertation and I really owe her a lot for that.
Eventually my family and I left the others and went for lunch at the Sainsbury Centre. It was perfect lunch, with picture perfect, tasty food in a casual setting that didn’t require us to do more than walk past the Ziggurats and sit ourselves in a spacious bright, casual restaurant/cafe.
Afterwards we did some photographing by the lake and I enjoyed a private moment with my family by the lake just taking portrait and family photos.
By the afternoon I waved my family goodbye as they would go to their accommodation in Norwich and I would go to 1 Friends Road for one last night where we would have one final party together. Our house hosted pre-drinks and so many of our friends turned up making the evening even more special. Tequilla, bought as a gift for the house by Emily’s boyfriend Aaron, was drunken, together with sparkling wine and prosecco. At the party Jodie, who had come up especially to celebrate with us, and I had the best catch up that consisting of me laughing until my stomach hurt by her never failing to be funny stories from her life and her new job. Later I found myself sitting on the 1 Friends road wall in the dusky light with Nathan, Shawnee, Max and Ellen talking and laughing, and then being amused by the now more than tipsy Emily and Jodie running around taking unflattering “candid” shots of everyone at the party on their disposable cameras.
Suddenly it was time to go to the LCR and Jodie and David and I wobbled our way onto campus, cackling about funny moments we had shared and good times we wanted to remember. Inside the club I stumbled into Steph, Jeff and Drew and joined them for a dance to some live brass band music. Like transitions in a dream, suddenly I found myself outside hugging David and Jodie, yelping with pure love, bliss and glee, as fireworks rocketed up into the sky in front of us. Jodie and I did one last round of pretending we are rebels and asking around for a cigarette, unsuccessfully, before running with the spirits of children to the spinning, music blasting, bright light flashing rides. Together we were flung into the air, spun until we didn’t know up from down, and I felt tears of joy, gravity and laughter run down my face. Eventually my night ended and I found myself in bed, my body heavy from dancing and drinking but uplifted from the same things. The next morning the house all moved into Emily’s room and into her bed, and together we caught up on the events of the previous night and laughed over unflattering pictures and vidoes that had been taken.
Suddenly my Dad and brother are at the door to pick me up so we can drive to London. I finish the last of my packing. Leaving hits me like a brick wall when I start the farewell process and hug Luke. I then attempt to hug everyone else in the house several times whilst trying to keep the tears from streaming. I then find myself in the car, watching everyone stand outside by the door waving me off whilst we drive away, trying to remind myself to imprint this moment into my memories for ever as I become fully aware that my time at university in that moment goes from present to past.