Farewell to Cambridge

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).

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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.
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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.”

Farewell to Cambridge

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