It finally happened! The bittersweet day of graduation.
It was a few weeks ago, on the 9th July, and it was an amazing day. I was so proud to be there with everyone who I'd seen work so hard over the last four years and to be able to celebrate finishing with them. It was the last opportunity for everyone to be together before we all go our separate ways and spread out across the globe. So there were lots of sad goodbyes, and I was sure that I was going to cry on the day, but I didn't in the end - the half of me that was happy kept the tears away.
My parents and two brothers came up to Leeds with me, and I'd managed to get extra tickets for my brothers to come into the actual ceremony in the Great Hall, which I was really happy about. They were on the balcony above me, so had a really good view of the stage and the Hall.
Watching my friends and classmates walking up onto the stage and receiving their certificates really made me want to shout out for them, but I restrained myself. The whole thing was being filmed so I didn't want my wooping to be recorded in University of Leeds history.
As I walked up to receive my degree I was a bit nervous, but mostly just really proud that I'd made it. I didn't even hear them say all of my name. I was climbing the stairs to meet the Pro-Vice Chancellor in a slight daze. I shook her hand and smiled for the photo of me taking the certificate, and then walked off to the side. I couldn't resist beaming out at the crowd.
After the ceremony I had my professional photography done, which should arrive in another couple of weeks, and went to the strawberries, cream and champagne reception in the East Asian Studies departmental foyer. This is where most of my goodbyes took place, so was a bit emotional, but I got to say goodbye and a final thank you to my teachers and lecturers.
After that I took my family (my dad was acting photographer) on a tour of the campus to take photos of me in my gown in various places. As a side note, I loved the gown! It was so swishy and grand, I felt very important.
My family then dropped me off at my hotel in the city centre and I got ready for a graduation meal with some of my friends and their families. We went to Jamie's Italian in the centre of Leeds, which was very fancy and very nice. It was a four-hour meal though, with all the chatting and everything.
After saying goodbye to the parents, we went to meet some other friends at a nearby pub and then we went out in the evening. It was such a fun night, but was tinged with sadness at the end as I said goodbye to some of my best friends.
The next day was pretty hard. I had lunch with two of my housemates and a friend, and then had to leave Leeds, with no plans to go back. That was tough. I love that city so much! But I will definitely be back to visit, just never in the same capacity with the same people there. But I suppose that's just another step in life you have to take!
And now I'm back at home in Birmingham, earning some money and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. It definitely involves travelling, because there are still so many places I want to visit while I'm young and free. And there are so many options and things I'm interested in pursuing, I need some time to soul-search and think through what will be best for me. One thing I know for sure - I need a break from academia! Although I may end up going back to Uni for a Masters, but I don't know what it would be in if I did.
If I do end up travelling, this blog will get more exciting again, but in the meantime I will update it with what I'm doing, even if it's very mundane! Hopefully there will be nothing mundane in my life - let's wait and see what happens!