This latest batch of posts from my journal marks a significant moment in my life, as I’ve now graduated from university and have started looking for work. Plus there are the usual mentions of DVDs and music that I’ve continued to buy, and one or two other things that have caught my attention. So I hope you enjoy!
Thursday July 1, 2004
I’ve got a 2:1 mark for my Accounting & Finance degree, it’s official! That means I’ve got an average of between 60% and 70% for my degree, which is pretty good and what I was aiming for. So I’m very happy! I’ve also got an appointment with a careers adviser today, so that should be interesting.
Monday July 5, 2004
I’m looking for job vacancies at the moment. I’m not rushing into anything, and we’re seeing someone at the local job centre on Wednesday, as we’re trying to sort out my disability benefits now that my circumstances will obviously be changing.
Apart from that, I’m just being fairly lazy. I’ve got The Who’s Live At Leeds album now, and it’s superb, plus I rewatched the first Harry Potter film this weekend, as I received the DVD of that too. The second disk of extras is ok, but more for kids really. There are a few interviews and deleted scenes, but the rest is just a few games. They’re not easy if you haven’t watched the films, but it doesn’t take long to work them out anyway.
In sport, Greece have done what everyone thought was impossible – they’ve won Euro 2004, beating Portugal in the final. They’d also beaten Portugal in the very first game of the tournament, so you can imagine how happy the Greeks are at the moment. And talking of sport, congratulations to 17-year-old Maria Sharapova for winning the Women’s title at Wimbledon this weekend too.
Saturday July 10, 2004
I saw an adviser at the job centre this week, and I’m seeing someone else next week from the New Deal programme to see if they’ll be useful, as I’ve got a sight problem and they specialise in helping disabled people. There’s a lot of help for disabled people here in the UK, and for those who employ us too, so it’s useful to know what’s available.
The only other event this week was a trip to the dentist – oh joy! My mouth was feeling sore, and it hurt when I tried to bite in the middle, and it turns out I’ve got a touch of gingivitis (gum swelling). So I managed to get an appointment with our dentist yesterday. And he is a nice dentist, to be fair. He made me all numb so he could get to work – 4 injections he made in my mouth, so I couldn’t talk properly until late in the evening. And I’ve got to take some antibiotics over the next few days. Hopefully I’ll be fine by the time I have my graduation ceremony on Friday.
Friday July 16, 2004
Today was Degree Day, and what an excellent event it was too. My Mum, Dad, Aunt and Uncle all came along, and my Nan’s also staying with us over the next week. I went up to the university last night in fact, in order to collect my gown, hood and hat, as I didn’t want to be rushing around too much before the ceremony this morning. It’s quite odd wearing them for the first time, but you quickly get used to it.
The gown isn’t like a dressing gown, it’s much more complex, and flows quite nicely. It’s all black, and very well made, as you’d expect. The hat is one of those ‘mortar board’ style things, and it takes a little while to find one that fits. As for the hood, it’s a funny thing. Its style and colour depends on the type of degree – bachelor, PhD, Masters, etc. As I’ve got a Bachelor degree, mine has a dark blue edging with a light colour for the main body. And it’s not really a hood either. As with all these items, it’s evolved over time, and isn’t really a hood now. It hangs down your back, with a bit going round your neck at the front. And you wear the whole lot over a suit. As for guests, they were asked to imagine they’re going to a wedding, so they were all dressed very smartly.
My Aunt and Uncle came down from the local Travelodge they were staying at, while me and my parents took a taxi from home to get there. We arrived at about quarter to nine this morning, and I went to get my photo taken. As we were fairly early, I got mine done virtually instantly. I’ve got a small black and white photo as proof, but the proper colour print arrives in about 3 weeks time.
We then met my aunt and uncle before the ceremony. They had to watch from a video link in a building next door, although there was plenty of seating for all the guests there, and 2 video screens. We could only have 2 guests in the Great Hall itself, and mine were my parents of course. Their seats were in the front row, and mine was further back. All the guests sit together at the front, with all the rows of students behind them.
The ceremony kicked off at 10:30. The processions, consisting of academic and very senior university personnel came onto the stage, and we stood during this bit. Classical music was also playing, courtesy of a university band, who were very good. After an opening address by the vice-chancellor (the chancellor himself was unwell, so could not attend), the presentations started. The opening address simply congratulated everyone, and talked a little about the university and its future.
It was like a well oiled-machine after that. We were all seated in a specific order, to make sure the right names matched the right people. The first row then got up and moved down the centre aisle to the Front Marshal. The first graduate then moved to the top of the steps at the side of the stage. The second waited at the bottom of the steps, while the third waited by the Front Marshal, and the others lined up behind him.
As the first graduate’s name was read out, they walked across the stage (with the men taking their caps off) to the Vice-Chancellor in the centre. He shook their hand and congratulated them, and then the graduate walked off the stage by the steps on the other side.they then collected their certificate, before walking around the outer edge of the hall to get back to their seat. During all of this, as the first graduate was walking across the stage, the second moved up to the top of the steps, the third came across to the bottom of the steps, and those in the centre aisle moved forward one pace. And the process continued in that way. And there was a break halfway through to talk about the Honorary Graduate (a rather clever Lord Justice in this instance).
It’s quite a strange feeling going through that process. You have to remember what you’re doing, but all thoughts seem to leave your head when you have to walk across the stage. I remembered to take my hat off though, and bow slightly to the Vice-Chancellor. It’s all over in a flash. The certificate is printed from a computer and looks good, but I’ve also ordered a hand-written one to be done by a calligrapher, which I’ll get in about 3 months time. The certificate states that I was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Accounting and Finance, Class II Division I (a 2:1, in other words). So I can put BA Hons after my name now.
The Honorary Graduate gave a speech, and then the ceremony was formally closed, with the processions leaving the stage first. And then, with the lively tune of the Bare Necessities being played by the band, the graduates all left the room, walking down the centre aisle in pairs, splitting off at the end to go out the doors on either side of the stage. And while we were doing this, all of the guests (on the ground floor and up on the balconies) were standing and applauding us. We then waited outside for our guests to come and join us.
So the whole ceremony was extremely well put together, and everyone was so proud to be there. Some might call it a silly tradition, but everyone there thought it was great. It’s a one-off experience for most of us, although the Vice-Chancellor himself has graduated 4 times in his lifetime! The lunch hampers we had were delicious, and we also went along to a wine reception at my school on the campus. Not only that, but the weather was nice as well – not too hot, and not too bright. I thought I’d be boiling in my suit and gown, but it wasn’t bad. I had to give the gown, hood and hat back at the end of the day.
I’ve got souvenirs too. I bought a t-shirt, which has the university name and crest on the front, and the entire list of names from my ceremony on the back. The list is also in the degree programme, which I’ve also got a copy of, although in the programme it is split up by degree, showing the order of presentation in the ceremony. My aunt purchased a university tie and cufflinks for me as well, both of which have the university crest on.
As for other souvenirs, my proper photo will be arriving in about 3 weeks, the ceremony DVD in about 4 weeks, and the handwritten certificate in about 12 weeks. I’ve come home with various other bits of paper too, as I’m now part of the Alumni Network and will get a biannual magazine from them, as the university wants its graduates to keep in touch and let them know what they’re doing.
So that’s it. It was a superb day. Everyone was clearly very happy to be there after working so hard, and the occasion was well worth the money and effort to set up. It was a fantastic moment that we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives.
Wednesday July 21, 2004
I had another meeting with my New Deal careers adviser today, which was very useful, and we’re starting to get things moving. The main focus at the moment is on trying to get some work experience, as I’m lacking in that area after focusing on my formal education, and there is a Work Prep scheme I could do. We also agreed that it’s a good idea to send out some speculative letters to potential employers, as you never know what can happen that way. There are workshops I can go to on that kind of thing, so I might go to them.
We also need to look at possible companies and organisations in the local area that I might want to work for, so that’s something for me to be doing. I also need to look around and get a general idea of the sort of jobs that are available that I might be interested in. And my adviser’s also going to talk to the daughter of a friend of his, as she works in accountancy.
Monday July 26, 2004
I’ve been looking in the Yellow Pages regarding accountants in my area, and there’s quite a few, with one or two fairly big companies. Most of the really big players are too far away for me to commute to easily, but there are still possible opportunities here. I had a letter from my New Deal adviser today as well, saying that he’s getting the ball rolling on the Work Prep scheme, so I’ll be seeing other people about that soon I expect.
Amazon have sent me more DVDs, which will keep me going for a while:
- Minder – Series 8 (the first Ray Daley season)
- The Brittas Empire – Series 4
- The Good Life – Series 3
And I’ve also ordered some CDs with the money I was given for my graduation:
- Led Zeppelin – Complete Studio Recordings (10 CDs) – I’ve decided to take the plunge and get all the studio albums in one go. I’ve got a 4 CD box set of some of their best tracks, plus a 2 CD greatest hits, their latest live album (How The West Was Won) and their great DVD, so I think I’ll enjoy getting everything.
- Led Zeppelin – The BBC Sessions (2 CDs) – With this, I’ll have pretty much completed my Led Zeppelin set, apart from The Song Remains The Same soundtrack, though that’s not so important. I’ve got the DVD of that film anyway. While the live stuff’s good on that disc, their latest live DVD was much better, and doesn’t have all those silly fantasy sequences, which ruined The Song Remains The Same for me. How The West Was Won is a superb live album as well.
- The Police – Message In A Box (4 CDs) – I only know a few songs, but they are quite a good band. Not as good as Queen, Led Zep or The Who, but I wanted to treat myself, as this collection contains everything – all the album tracks, B-sides, etc, along with some live tracks. So it’ll be interesting to see how much I like them.
- Queen – At The Beeb – This doesn’t have all of their BBC sessions, but has mostly tracks from their debut album, with one from Queen II. If you don’t know what BBC sessions are, it’s basically where the bands perform tracks on the radio, although without an audience on most occasions. So what you hear is a live performance, without any fancy editing or effects added, like they do on their studio albums. You can often hear interesting alternative versions of tracks this way, or just get a bit more of a raw sound.
- Brian May – Another World – I’m looking forward to hearing this, as I enjoyed his first album and live CD.
I’ve also got another reason to be happy, as I’ve finally found the 100th hidden package on GTA Vice City that I was missing. I’d been following one or two guides and not getting it, but I found it by luck last night, as I was having a quick go on it following a guide I had from a magazine. I don’t play on Vice City a lot these days, but I’ve got 97% done, and I really want to get all 100% if I can – preferably using guides rather than cheat codes. I’ve got to do the RC and Stadium missions, and that’s it. But they’re not easy.
Saturday July 29, 2004
I’m enjoying the new DVDs I bought. The new incarnation of Minder with Ray Daley is brilliant. I was worried that it might not be as good as the Terry years, but they are great in their own right.
And I’ve just got 100% on GTA Vice City! I know I’ve had the game for over a year now, but to start with I was happy enough to complete all the main missions, completing other side-missions when I felt like it. But I’ve come back to all the odd bits every now and again, and I completed it last night. Now I can have fun getting lots of money and a high criminal rating, with the help of the bodyguards.
It’s also good to see that Queen’s musical will be hitting Las Vegas in September, marking its debut in North America. I still haven’t seen We Will Rock You yet, but I hope to one day. Good luck to them!
Saturday July 31, 2004
Nothing new to report from home at the moment. But sheep are cleverer than we give them credit for, it seems. A farmer had installed hoof-proof cattle grids so his sheep couldn’t get out of the field, as well as high fences. However, the sheep have learnt to roll over the cattle grids to get out! Not only that, but they can vault the fences as well! I suppose once one sheep works it out, the others all follow. It reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where the sheep are nesting in the trees and trying to fly, due to one clever sheep (“the most dangerous of all animals!”).