Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Edinburgh log (6): Graduation ceremony

The morning started by riding in a taxi from the b'n'b to the Heriot Watt campus, not knowing how far it was or how best to get there. It turns out that the number 25 bus (and others) goes "all the way" (as opposed to getting off at the Haymarket, Edinburgh in-joke), so we could have taken the number 11 to Princes St then change. Anyway, we arrived just after 9am as ordered.

There were plenty of people wandering around in gowns outside the building in which the graduation ceremony was to be held. We went inside where I registered (being told my seat number) then went to the 'robing' room, where a nice lady helped me put on my gown. As it happened, standing right next to me was my friend Anat, with whom I had taken several courses!  A few minutes later we bumped into our fellow student from Ramat Gan, Michal, who was attending with her mother.

Like everyone else we went outside into the strong sunshine and took pictures galore. The one on the left was taken with my mobile phone, but most of the pictures were taken with a 'real' camera.

When we finally went into the auditorium, I discovered that my seat was right at the front (second row), where only a few graduands were sitting. I looked in the program and discovered that I was one of the few who had graduated with distinction (average mark over 70%); the distinguished graduands were to be called up first and so were sitting at the front. As we were sitting in alphabetical order, I was fifth in line to be called to shake hands with and be capped (tapped on the head with the graduation cap) by the university Vice Chancellor. The student on my right was called back for a special prize - she had an average mark of over 80%! The student on my left was Anat. After the speeches, my row stood up and proceeded to wait in the wings; one lady checked that we were standing in the correct order (so each would receive the correct certificate) and another arranged our gowns. I admit to being pleasantly surprised to discover that I had graduated with distinction; one needs 630 marks out of 900 and I had 628.

After us, all the other graduating students were called in alphabetical order and then by subject. As one can imagine, this went on for some time - there were about 250 graduands. I had told my wife to film only the beginning of the ceremony as the entire ceremony was filmed professionally. A dvd of the event was available only a few minutes after the ceremony finished, but of course this contains the entire event; we only need the first few minutes.

After the ceremony finished, we were invited to a buffet lunch in the Business School which was very pleasant. All the staff - both those from the university and those from the caterers - were exceedingly polite and helpful; they all said "congratulations". I would have thought that some of the Business School staff would have circulated between the tables; maybe they did, but no one came to the area where the Israelis were sitting.

The morning was extremely impressive and a fitting end to the past two weeks of wandering abroad. Tomorrow we have a hectic day: we have to get to Edinburgh airport, fly to Heathrow, change terminals then fly to Israel. I hope that there won't be any problems in Heathrow.

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