Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Weekend Away: Graduation in Versailles

After 3.5 years and 2.5 years of study time (I took a break of a year before starting my dissertation), this weekend just gone saw me formally graduate from university with a Master of Science in Development Management.

When I was choosing where to graduate I had the option of going to various ceremonies in the UK, or Versailles, Paris. There wasn't really a decision to make really!

So after a bit of a dramatic journey from Vienna to Paris, which was slightly delayed due to a bird strike on the aeroplane literally just as we were taking off (it is a little unnerving when that happens, but the captain's explanation that the engine had ingested some birds made us chuckle), Saturday was the day of the graduation.

Open University ceremonies are kind of relaxed yet prestigious affairs - it is the nature of the university and it's students that there are people from all walks of life, at all stages in their lives in attendance. Gowns are optional for the ceremony, and mortar boards are not worn at all (although you can choose to wear one in your official photograph, I declined).

Furthermore, the graduation gowns, if you choose to wear them, are pretty distinctive, reflecting the University's colours of blue and yellow. Have to say, not my favourite colours, but at least brighter and more cheerful than my undergraduate gowns at Exeter!

As a Master of Science I got to wear a light blue gown with a navy and gold full hood. Undergraduates wore navy gowns with lighter blue hoods. Masters gowns are also a bit fancier than Bachelors ones!

Unfortunately the weather wasn't great on Saturday, but the rain did let up enough to get some photos posed in front of the Chateau. I'm also grateful that my skin decided to play nice for that day, just so I could feel confident!

My parents and me in front of le ch√Ęteau de Versailles

The ceremony itself was fantastic - the Presiding Officer was Vice-Chancellor of the Open University Martin Bean, and his opening and closing speeches were uplifting and full of the positivity and optimism that the OU instills in it's students. One thing that he said was that we are special, because we are Open University graduates, who have done our degrees whilst working, juggling family and study in order to achieve more. For many of us in the room it was the first time we'd ever come into contact face to face with another student from our course, and that in itself made it a special occasion.

As every student walked across the stage to shake his hand, he greeted them as if an old friend, pausing to give a few words of encouragement and praise to each person, which is no mean feat when there are over 100 people walking up to shake your hand over the course of the afternoon!

Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean and me, you can see the full glory of the robes!

Now that I'm at the end of it all, I have to give special thanks to my parents, without whom none of it would have been possible, and an extra special thanks to my wonderful boyfriend who supported me, proof read my essays, brought me tea and talked me off ledges in the middle of the night.

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