I’ve been to many graduations in my time both as a guest and graduate – Wednesday’s graduatation ceremony from University of Westminster marks my eighth graduation. Despite having received my degree and formally finishing my education and time at Westminster six months ago, there’s something about the robes and formality of a ceremony to make it all seem real.
The decision to receive my MA abroad was not an easy decision and not one I made lightly as it meant packing up not only my life but altering my family’s dynamic as well. Instead of having a daughter a drive (albeit a long 10 hour drive) away I was now an ocean away and again a long 7 hour flight. Getting an education abroad while “glamorous” to many comes with its own challenges that a degree from your home state simply can not compare.
Yes, I have learned the finer points of International Security through my degree but to me it’s so much more than that. I have learned how to manage and navigate a strange city, how to communicate with those that might not understand my slang, references or even speak my language all together. The University of Westminster has given me infinite number of experiences and life skills that I will use long after I forget the different theories of International Relations.
Although it might not be possible for every international student to return for their graduation ceremony I urge you to try. Try to find the time and save the money because you won’t regret it. Yes, there’s a lot of sitting around and listening to more accomplished people give big speeches and tell you about your future but there’s also the moment when they call your name and you get to walk across that stage and shake hands of people whose names you’ll probably forget – but hey, those two seconds when everyone is focused on you and clapping for your accomplishments are worth it.
It seems crazy and unnecessary to many and if you’ve never been to a graduation you probably don’t “get it” – you’ve never seen a room full of happier people from all wakes of life sit together in pure joy and satisfaction in their accomplishments. But once you experience it I promise you’ll enjoy it – once all the nerves and excitement passes over you – you’ll enjoy the moment and be happy you took part. And if all other reasoning fails, you’ll have the official cap and gown photo for your parents living room.