The news of a nationwide lockdown threw the next few months up in the air for everyone. For some, the implications for their time at university were questionable, especially for Final Year students like myself. My friends and I, upon hearing the announcement regarding the cancellation of academic teaching and campus events, patiently awaited news of our graduation. Needless to say, we were bitterly disappointed with the result.

On the 26th March, all final year students received an email stating ceremonies were cancelled, and that the university: “will explore if there are options in the future to mark and celebrate your hard work when we are in the position to do so”.

The key word here is “if”. The lack of certainty caused uproar and the lack of guarantee of a ceremony made most of us feel cheated. Luckily, changes have been made and we will get a ceremony as it stands. However, things have still changed. Final year students are not wrapping up their degrees in the way we anticipated, and we do not get to celebrate our success with family and friends.

The best way I have found to deal with this, is to remember I am still, at the end of the day, getting a degree; a massive achievement in and of itself. Yes, there is no ceremony right away, but finishing your degree is still a huge thing to be proud of. It has not been easy for me at all, and truth be told, I do not think I chose the right course and thus my enjoyment suffered, but I still did it! I understand for many the graduation itself was the big thing, and the ceremony and the degree are intrinsically bound, but it was not always the case for me.

I think, as cliché as it sounds, one of the best ways to stay positive is by remembering the best memories from your time at university. Graduation is not the only experience you would have remembered about UEA looking back. I have had the best year of my life in my final year, so although it ended abruptly and not on the best terms, it was phenomenal, and this is what I remember to try and forget about the graduation turmoil.

As for celebrating graduation in lockdown, it obviously depends on the situation you are in. I chose to go home to my parents’ house for quarantine, so I imagine we will have some celebrations upon receiving my results. I suggest having drinks, or a fun night in to celebrate anyway. Alternatively, go all out like a friend of mine, who dressed up in their graduation outfit to mourn the loss of their ceremony. After all, no one will see and judge you for this.

To all who are about to graduate, remember that you will get your ceremony at some point. And, you are about to get a degree! You are smart, you survived, and that is worth celebrating even without the cap and gown.


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