You may remember I officially became a doctor in February this year. Well, on 18th July, it was my graduation ceremony at the University of Essex.
the dress and the gown
I was (feeling) fat, so I went on a low glycaemic load
(GL) diet, which is like a low glycaemic index
(GI) diet, but it takes into account portion size. I wasn’t strict about the number of GL units I ate, but I don’t think I exceeded the maximum of 100 units a day. Once a week, I had a cheat day, which meant I wasn’t obsessing about carbs all the time.
Nearer the time, I also started cycling up the busway cycle path and back to burn off a few more calories. I lost loads of weight quite quickly using this diet, although I didn’t reach my original target. I had long since concluded that my target was unrealistic, and changed it to simply fitting into my dress.
When I went shopping for a dress, I had one crucial criterion: it had to have a button at the front. I have graduated enough times now to know that a button is best for keeping the hood in place. If you don’t have a button, then you have to use a safety pin, which isn’t as secure and risks ruining your dress. I found one such dress in the whole of Cambridge, a navy blue shirt dress. It’s nicer than it sounds. I got some flat navy shoes to go with it.
My family went to Colchester for the occasion. My sister couldn’t make it, which was a shame. Nevertheless, we had a lovely time over the three days we were there.
At Essex, the PhD robes
comprise a black gown with maroon sleeves and a red hood with maroon taffeta lining. They’re very fancy.
In Britain, PhD graduates don’t usually wear a mortar board, they wear a Tudor bonnet. Mine was black with a maroon cord and tassel.
I have to admit that I did enjoy swanning around in them, and was sad to hand them back. I momentarily contemplated popping in to Ede and Ravenscroft in Cambridge when I got back to order my very own robes, but I have not, as yet, done this.
The graduation ceremony
The ceremony was like most other graduation ceremonies: lots of people shaking the Chancellor’s hand to much clapping, then the brief moment your guests have been waiting for, when you take the limelight, then more people shaking the chancellor’s hand to more clapping.
Behind the scenes, there are people who make sure your robes are straight. The man who did mine gave me such a lecture about how I was wearing my hat at a “flippant” angle, and this was a “serious” occasion. I’m sure he could have made the same point in a much more friendly way. After all, it was also a joyous occasion. Still, I did not let him deter me from enjoying my moment in the limelight.
A member of your department presents you to the chancellor; often, this is the head of department. In the case of the Language and Linguistics department, it happened to be my supervisor instead, which was nice.
So what’s next for the new doctor? Well, that’s the subject for another post.