After three years at Cambridge, I’m back in the US with no return ticket. A week and a half ago, I donned the (slightly ridiculous) graduation gown and hood, had some Latin recited at me, and finally bid Cambridge farewell.
Graduation ended up being a rather drawn-out affair: including rehearsals, photos, and meals, as well as the actual graduation ceremony, it spanned two days. On the Tuesday morning, I hugged my parents outside King’s college, before taking them for scones and tea at The Orchard in Grantchester (as well as a bit of a stroll through Grantchester Meadows).
We made it back in time for me to get dressed for the group photo, after which (to the dismay of my parents, who wanted their own photographs), I rushed to change back into shorts and a tank-top.
Luckily for my parents, there were plenty of photo opportunities, both at the final graduation dinner that night (though I was wearing formal clothes, not the graduation attire) and the following day after the ceremony, when my parents cornered me and would not let me change into a lighter, more weather-appropriate dress until after they had snapped plenty of pictures.
I’ll miss Cambridge–I already do! But it’s also a relief to have finished my degree and the three most stressful years of my life, to leave behind the fantasies of getting run over by a car, or of in some way getting seriously enough injured so as to be excused from exams. I’m still not sure if the stress was worth it in the end, but I think it was: no where else in the world would I have learned as much. In the past three years, I learned how to think like a scientist, and I think I’m as well prepared as possible to start my PhD at Columbia…
In any case, I have the next month free to reminisce, and to worry about moving to New York.
As a goodbye, no one can say it better than Xu Zhimo:
“Quietly now I leave the Cam,
As quietly as I came.
Gently wave farewell the clouded
Western sky aﬂame—
There the golden willow stands
a bride of sunset’s glow.
How its dancing ripples glint
and stir my heart below;
crowded rushes wave in water
bouncing with the weed
ﬂowing slick by soft-soil’d banks—
I long to thus proceed!
Duckweed-crumpled rainbow’s pool
of iridescent dream
pure as springs ’neath elmtree’s bough—
O search the shrouded stream;
Punt toward the yonder whence
the emerald ﬁelds lie;
Return with joyous song engulfed
by tranquil starlit sky.
But as for me, I cannot sing
this muted summer’s evening;
Even insects hush, as silence
plays the ﬂute for leaving.
Stealth’ly now I part from Cam,
As bid farewell I must.
Waving sleeve so gently lest
a cloudspeck I should dust.”