To say it's been a long time coming would be a bit of an understatement. Due to circumstances, the big 'C' word that makes us all shiver in our boots; it took two years, 730 days, 17520 hours since finishing my degree, to finally have my graduation ceremony.
I'm glad I went and I loved it, but the event ended up being rather controversial.
The initial lockdown of 2020 really flipped life on its head for many students.
I never thought I'd spend my final year of University at home; writing my dissertation inside my childhood bedroom during a world-wide pandemic, but that was the reality for the Class of 2020. When COVID went rampant and a Lockdown thankfully occurred to limit its spread and save lives, it also meant that a vital chapter in my life abruptly came to an end without any true closure.
I remember the University suddenly closing that March, Cardiff became a ghost town. I don't think I even physically said goodbye to any of my friends before I was on a train from Cardiff back to Essex, rushing to get home before all available transport became halted. Peers that I had spent three years getting to know vanished from my life. Like a book without a last page, I was frustrated but I had to accept the ending.
Going home was great, because I love my family, but it was also rather isolating. I went from being this active girl; in several societies and committees, whilst bartending in the evenings, to not going outside and staring at my computer screen for hours. For me University had been this vital hub of connectivity and excitement.
Even when I went on with life; got a fantastic job, began my career, eventually relocated back to Cardiff and rebuilt my social group of friends, there was still this slight hole in my heart that was annoyed by how it all ended.
That's why I was excited about graduation. My conclusion. A great story was about to get it's final page and a happy end at that. The moment I saw the email announcing it, I was jumping up with excitement and on the phone with my Mum faster than you could say ' Donkey Kong'.
I clearly wasn't the only one from the Class of 2020 who anticipated the event, because let me tell you, the Graduation was packed. With a few exceptions, I think the whole year turned up.
But that's where the controversy surrounding the event started, the Graduation was full and that led to a few management issues.
I'll premise this with saying that I thought it was a good day.
The sun was shining, the heat was on, and not-to-toot-my-own-horn but I looked great. I met a bunch of people from my course that I had lost touch with. The Graduation Gardens were brilliant; the photo booths were unique, the live band was pretty groovy and they had a decent selection of food stalls. All the pictures I took that day including the professional pictures looked great.
But there was a lot of outrage surrounding the ceremony and the gown management. Many ended up waiting hours for their gowns in long lines in the searing heat and ended up missing their ceremonies during the wait. Many outfits were mismanaged and went unreturned, and the actual school ceremonies ended up being brief. Not to mention the main ceremony, was for some, more performative than about the students.
I was lucky that I went to collect my gown at 7 am, but for many who went later they were in for a wild ride that entire day, and I met more than a few people that day who seemed upset about the whole affair.
Some of the issues with the graduation day have been heavily discussed in news articles and on social media posts on popular pages like 'Cardiff Confessions'.
Everyone's experience of the event is understandably different; some were disappointed, others found the event quite nice, while some were in-between. Regardless of the issues surrounding the event, I'm glad it happened and I'm grateful for the closure.
Thank you for reading~