So...that's it. I'm officially a university graduate!
(I guess that also officially makes me unemployed, but we shall not speak of that. For now.)
Over the course of my graduation, my family, being the good Asians they are, took hundreds of photos. Definitely about 600 upwards. So I've whittled the photos down for the sake of this post, but there's still loads, so hold on tight. I'm about to take you through the process of graduating at Cambridge!
At my college, Murray Edwards, graduation is spread over two days - one day for rehearsing the ceremony and taking photos, and one day for the real thing! So I'll take you through Friday first. In the early afternoon, we made our way to college to pick up our hired hoods from the porters' lodge, and then went into the gardens to take pictures.
Unlike other universities, Cambridge has a strict dress code for graduation. Both sexes wear white shirts with the boys wearing special white bow ties, then girls must wear plain black skirts or trousers and black shoes. Students receiving bachelor of arts degrees don a white furry hood (faux fur of course, but in the past it was real fur), masters of natural science wear light purple, and masters of engineering a saffron hood.
Next we practised having our hoods pinned to our gowns to avoid the 'off the shoulder' look, as demonstrated by me in the top picture.
Once pinned, we headed to the entrance of the building to show a little college pride.
Next was more picture-taking, to no one's surprise! Excitingly, I was allowed into the Fellows' Garden for the first time in my four years at the college.
Next we had the year photograph, and then lined up to rehearse the ceremony process. While being briefed by the praelectors, the masters of ceremony, it transpired that they could speak Latin. Fluently. Because the entire ceremony is conducted in Latin...Of course. (Oh Cambridge).
During the rehearsal there was a sudden sharp bout of very heavy rain, but then the sun came out again - typical British summertime weather, right? So we started taking photos again. I think I intruded on a special moment between Gwen and Sana...
And as the only art historian in the year, I felt that I had special rights over the Barbara Hepworth sculpture in Orchard Court. Probably because very few other students actually know it's a Hepworth...
In the evening we changed for dinner and were treated to a champagne reception in the Fellows' Garden again. I may or may not have gotten very
slightly tipsy. It wasn't my fault, my glass kept getting topped up...!
For the final event of the day we settled down in Dome for our last ever formal. We were served a prawn and crab cocktail starter, rack of lamb for main and a cream and summer berry pavlova for dessert which came out on a bar that rose up from the centre of the room - very exciting! There was also freely flowing wine...Guess who accepted the offer of free white wine with alacrity?
After dinner was tea and coffee in the bar and the chance for me to play with the college sculptures a bit more. In first year we got in trouble for sitting on these, but this time, as fully fledged finalists, we didn't get stopped when posing with them! Full of formal food and very happy, I walked home with my housemate to get some shut-eye before the big day.
Saturday came all too quickly, and my family arrived in town early. Cue a hurried cycle up to college, changing into my gown at superhuman speed, more photos and a pep talk before the procession.
In name order, we filed out of college to applause from our proud families and walked down the Backs for our last walk through Cambridge as undergraduates. I felt myself well up a little at the cheers and smiles from parents and passers-by but (somehow) managed to hold it together.
Finally we arrived at Senate House and waited anxiously to be allowed in. The wait was mercifully short, and next we were standing inside the building watching fellow students walk up to receive their degrees. Heart thumping, I had to force myself to breathe when my name was called. A kneel and a bow later, I was officially Tamsin Lim, BA Hons. (Cantab.)!
Upon receiving our certificates we leave Senate House through the Doctor's Door in Senate Passage. I couldn't stop smiling, and my heart was still beating as quickly as a rabbit's. Thanks very much to Clare Cotterill for taking this photo of me after shaking the Senior Tutor's hand!
Family have to stay inside Senate House until the end of the congregation, so in the meantime we took lots of joyous photos. Everyone was so happy - we couldn't stop hugging each other, and to add to the glee, my lovely housemate Arsha had bought us all chocolates and balloons. I couldn't help feeling that the idea that four years boiled down to one piece of paper was totally surreal.
I just need to learn how to spell 'blood' with my fingers and I'll be all set for the West Side. Or something.
Ghetto girls of Murray Edwards.
Finally the congregation was dissolved and my family came out to congratulate me. I felt quite emotional, especially when my parents admitted that they'd shed a tear or two when I went up to the President to kneel and receive her admission.
We were lucky that the weather held right until the end of the ceremony. It began to rain a little as we were wrapping up, and then once back at college there was a thunderstorm, complete with torrential rain and lightning! Some might bemoan such frightening weather, but I felt that it was dramatic and passionate - the perfect way to end my time at Cambridge. Plus I love petrichor.
It feels strange and a tiny bit sad to think that now I'm a graduate, I won't ever go to lectures or supervisions again, or cycle around Cambridge as a student. But I'm immensely excited too. I've moved back to London for good now, and I just can't wait to see what the next chapter of my life will hold...