I’m a graduate!

Posted on June 10, 2016 under Life

Technically my degree was granted on May 26, according to online records, but it somehow didn’t feel official until I crossed the stage on Tuesday. I can now officially say that after four years of hard work, I am the proud owner of a BA in Cultural Studies from one of Canada’s top universities. (Normally I’m really not one to brag about my school, but I guess this is the right occasion to say, hey, I did something cool.)

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Somehow this is not exciting as actually receiving a piece of paper.

My uncle works as the editor of my university’s official newspaper, and he was on the job photographing the convocation ceremonies all week. This means that I have some really nice, high quality photos that he took! All in a day’s work, right? Anyway, here is a small picture dump:

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I knew I was going to regret wearing these shoes and yet I wore them anyway. I have a degree and yet apparently no common sense! By the end of the morning when I had to return my robe and hood to the bookstore I was practically hobbling along. Shoes are from Forever 21 last year and I love them dearly for their borderline ugliness. Not so much for the comfort factor.

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When I decided to do my hair like this I wasn’t expecting it to work so well with the mortarboard! I wore my hair like this to work the other day and got so many compliments and questions (mainly “Is that your real hair?”), but it’s actually really easy to do. I just did a deep part and dutch braided each side all the way around the back, braided the remainder of my hair down to the end, and pinned it to the back of my head. Simple if you can braid decently, and great for short hair.

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The whole ceremony was filmed and my dad made a little edit of it with the best parts. (You know, the 15 seconds total out of 2 hours that I’m visible.) This was my favourite part! (I was waving at my mom and uncle, who were sitting right next to the camera.)

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I refused to wear the mortarboard in most of my posed photos because it’s ugly and it hid my hair. But these photos make me look more like a graduate, I suppose.

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As for my actual dress, I didn’t manage to get a single decent photo of it, but here it is peeking out from under my robe. I knew when I began to search for a graduation dress that I wanted something cobalt – not only because it’s my favourite colour of all time but because my high school graduation dress and prom dress were both that colour. I finally found this one from Lulus and was very happy with it!

My dad’s side is very formally educated (lots of law degrees and a PhD), but on my mom’s side I’m the first of my generation to get a degree. Out of my maternal blood relatives, I’m only the second ever – one of my uncles has a BA, and that’s it. So this is a pretty big deal, and I was so lucky to have one of my uncles attend to the ceremony (with the other there to take pictures). Most of my mom’s side also came out for a lovely dinner to celebrate. (And so did my former roommate, who might be reading this and who is amazing!) I truly feel so lucky to have had such supportive family and friends throughout my degree – in this last year especially I don’t know what I would have done without my parents, grandparents, uncles, and friends – especially my roommate, who was such great company over the course of a year that was intense and stressful, for reasons academic and personal.

As I’ve noted here before, I absolutely love school and fully intend to continue on with it. I did mentioned awhile back that I’ve opted to defer grad school for a year mainly for financial reasons. I’m a bit sad about it as I genuinely love school and was so excited to go back to Scotland, but I’m going to enjoy having a year to focus on other things – I haven’t had more than a few months off since 1998, and I want to make the most of it.

I’m finished my degree!

Posted on April 21, 2016 under Life

Yesterday I handed in an exam for my music class. With that, I have completed my degree. It’s been an incredibly stressful semester, for reasons academic and personal. (The night before my exam I was in the ER for five hours, and that’s really not even the worst of it.) I’m very glad to put this semester behind me!

Something which was causing me a lot of stress was my grad school acceptance. I was obviously incredibly stressed about the application itself for months, and couldn’t wait to hear back. But getting in didn’t make me any less stressed, mainly for financial reasons. I’ve made the decision to defer my admission for a year, and that has cut back on a lot of the stress. I’ll have a year and a half to save up for it so I can avoid debt, and after such a stressful four months I’ll (maybe) be able to relax a bit. At least whatever stress comes my way won’t have anything to do with school!

Highlights of my degree:

  • Passing a first year science class thanks to the most generous curve in the world, giving me a B- even though I got less than 50% on an exam worth 70%.
  • My one prof who brought his cat to class twice a semester and handmade his own stone tools. He made me declare an Anthropology major, which I immediately regretted when I realized I hated every Anthropology class that wasn’t his. (It ended up being my minor, and I did not enjoy it.)
  • My evil first year roommate who decorated our common spaces absolutely hideously, which included a poster of Bob Dylan right above our toilet. This made me profoundly uncomfortable and I retaliated by adding a new 8.5×11″ poster of One Direction to a blank wall every other day for several weeks. This went completely unacknowledged.
  • Taking a Scantron quiz with a Harry Styles gel pen and being worried that the machine wouldn’t pick up on it. (It did.)
  • My entire year abroad in Scotland!
  • Cutting down a 5 foot Justin Trudeau campaign sign at 2 in the morning, accepting its presence in my apartment for six months, decorating it according to the season.
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  • Studying something that I had no idea was a legitimate academic field prior to university and realizing that I absolutely loved it! (Cultural studies, if you’re wondering.)
  • Things I managed never to do in my entire 4-year undergrad:

    • Study at the library
    • Check a book out of the library
    • Send out an email to the entire class asking for notes
    • Pull an all-nighter or even come close – I stayed up until 2am finishing an assignment last semester and THAT IS IT. I have excellent time management skills and I finish, like, all my assignments several days early.

    And with that, I bid my undergrad adieu. After my exam yesterday my roommate and I went out for tacos and then went onto Mont Royal to look out at the city.

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    Tomorrow I’m celebrating by going to see Carly Rae Jepsen live, which is pretty much the most perfect ending to my degree ever. (I won’t go quite so far as to say that she got me through the last month of my degree, but, I mean, E•MO•TION is one of the best pop albums I’ve heard in my entire life, so.) And then on Saturday I’m back in Toronto for the next year and a half!

February 2016 Behind the Scenes

Posted on March 05, 2016 under Life

You guys will have to forgive me for this very brief (and pictureless) behind the scenes post. I’ve been sick for quite a few days now, and my laptop has been out of commission for about the same time. I just got it back, but it doesn’t have any of my programmes, which means no photo editing software yet. So, here’s a brief rundown of what I got up to in February.

First, three of my good friends (Anna, Kristin, and Hayley) came to visit near the beginning of the month. We ate our way through Montreal, went to the Barbie Expo, and discovered how it feels to have your nosehairs freeze one day when we decided to go buy discounted Valentine’s Day chocolate in -40 degree weather. (I feel like when when Canadians talk about -40 degree weather, some people think we are merely exaggerated for effect, but I can assure you that it has literally dropped to -40 degrees Celcius several times this winter!)

I have spent much of February being sick, although this is true of every month since October. I have had, at most, about 3 straight weeks of full health in between bouts of sickness since midway through last semester. The fourth year stress is not allowing my immune system to put up a decent fight.

I suppose this week was the best time to get sick, since it’s reading week. I did manage to work quite a few hours over my break, although I missed out on two full shifts due to coughing incessantly for the past five days. I would have liked to be in good health over my break, but it’s easier to stay in bed all day when I don’t have to go school. I’ll be back on Monday, and then I’ll only have six weeks of the semester left – maybe that will help me relax enough to fight off all the germs that apparently think my body is a great incubator.

There’s also one piece of news that should help me relax a bit – I got into grad school about a week and a half ago! Last time I mentioned that I opted to only apply for one school, in the UK. I submitted my application on a Friday and found out I was accepted at 3:30 on a Tuesday morning. (I couldn’t sleep that night, which was pretty convenient – although nobody was awake to share my news with, so that was a bit frustrating.) The international tuition is slightly nightmarish, but I’ve accepted the offer. Everything is pending funding, but I’m just going to assume that in about six months I’ll be back in Scotland. When I abruptly changed my plan in October, this was the best-case scenario. Here we are in March, and everything I’ve been working towards since my third semester of university is coming together. I do have to maintain a certain GPA (which is well below what I currently have), but knowing that they want me does take an elephant-sized weight off my shoulders. Also, next year I will not have to suffer through a Canadian winter, which is ABSOLUTELY MARVELLOUS!

And that was my February! February, to me, is always about surviving, not about thriving. It’s my least favourite month of the year because it’s cold, dark, and gloomy. I wouldn’t say this February was the most outstanding month ever, but it was actually pretty good as Februaries go. Here’s hoping March is even better – let’s start with improved weather.