5 Things To Expect At A British Graduation

So, I went to a graduation recently (not my own, that was in 2010), and it was my 3rd graduation I’ve ever been to. This makes me an expert. Here are 5 things to expect at a graduation….

1. Long Waits

Graduations are much like weddings, big things happen every so often. You arrive and wait, pick up robes and wait, have photographs done and wait, meet your friends and wait, sit down in the hall and wait, and wait, shake someone’s hand while trying not to fall over in front of hundreds of people then wait, take back your robes and wait, and then celebrate.

It’s even worse when you’re not the graduate because that bit in the middle when you meet your relative’s friends is full of awkward small talk.  I hate small talk.

2. War of the Cameras

There are three types of camera owners:

  • the cheap camera from Argos, “come closer, the zoom makes you fuzzy!”
  • the awesome camera worth hundreds, “well yours may be lightweight but look at this picture I took of a buzzard nesting.”
  • the mobile phone camera, “look, my phone’s camera is all-right, don’t you think?”

One looks stressed and inadequate, one looks like a tourist pretending to be a photographer, and one looks eager to please the non-believers.

3. War of the Families

The F-word should never really feature in any big occasion, but sadly, there is no big event without them – family. Mothers argue with daughters, brothers argue with brothers, Grandmas argue with their mobile phones as they try to figure out how to take a picture.

4. Health and Safety Gone Mad!

You know in movies when graduates throw their Mortar Boards in the air to celebrate their freedom? That doesn’t really happen, why? because, apparently, if you throw your hat in the air it suddenly turns into a circular saw, falling at speed, ready to cut you in two. Agree to throwing your Mortar Boards in the air…at your own risk MWAAHAHA.

5. Reflection

With all the pomp and grandeur people surround your achievements with on the day it is easy to see why you would and should reflect on the past 3 years of your life. What did you learn, where did you go wrong and what made you a richer person, both academically and personally? And as a guest, I found myself reflecting upon my own graduation day, what I would do differently, how I was back then and how I have grown.

The speeches given at the ceremony are often enthralling (as long as they do not drag on) and inspiring, the kind of speech you want everyday; more heartfelt than some rousing monologue in a film and more artful than Shia LaBeouf’s ‘most intense motivational speech of all-time’ (see below). A great graduation speech, often from someone with a creative flare, captures the mood of the day, bringing tears to the eyes, helping you reflect on your life and leaving you wishing you could have a speech like that everyday.

But, soon the dream and the ambition may dwindle.  In life, after graduation, there is no daily speech to keep you going. So, you must just get up, remember that you achieved something great and as Shia so elegantly says, “do it!”.

Thanks for reading,

Forever yours,


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3 thoughts on “5 Things To Expect At A British Graduation

  1. I agree with all of these. So true. Though I’d add (based on my own graduation in Carlisle 2010):
    Expect graduates to be hidden away – God forbid they’d actually get a good view of the stage they’re graduating from. The good seats are reserved for faculty.

    That nice diploma? You won’t get it at graduation. You won’t even get a placeholder. The thing you’ll hold in the pictures? A plastic prop. Your diploma will be in the mail 4 months later.


    • Hi Conny, thanks for the comment. It is true, for my graduation we were hidden away but for the one I went to this week they were sat front and centre for everyone to see and be proud of.
      And of course! That plastic prop! Remember to hold it with both hands, now. So, so true! Thanks for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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