This blog comes from guest blogger Charlie Trzeciak, who attended MUSA’s recent ‘How to graduate’ comedy event.
Graduation, as I found out in September 2013, is an event which creates a wide range of emotions. In many ways it is incredible, as you take pride in your achievements, meet with friends and tutors, and take the opportunity to make back the money you have spent on a gown and hood by consuming all the free champagne and sandwiches you can get your hands on.
On the other hand, it can be a disillusioning experience. From the perspective of my undergraduate university, the graduation ceremony was also an opportunity (when both students and their beaming parents were conveniently under one roof) to beg for money. Indeed, a pleasant chat I was having with a Proctor following the event was abruptly ended when I revealed that I wanted to work in a museum. His look of panic soon faded however, once he had found refuge in a group of soon-to-be investment bankers. Finally, I found the ceremony itself extremely awkward. The university where I did my undergraduate degree was rather conservative, and insisted that the entire event be conducted in Latin. This was fine if you were a Classicist but for the rest of us, it led to a series of mistaken bobs, bows and curtsies, which only served to dent our egos.
With this experience behind me, I jumped at the chance to attend the ‘How to Graduate’ event at MUSA, which had been organised as part of MUSA’s temporary exhibition about graduation at St Andrews. For this event, a series of local comedians promised to share their wisdom, thus enabling me to graduate from the University of St Andrews without a hitch. What ensued was a series of humorous insights into the world of ceremony at St Andrews.
For example, I learnt that one of the key moments in the event, is when a graduand is ‘capped’, i.e. tapped on the head with a cap which is rumoured to have been made out of John Knox’s trousers. One of the comedians deftly persuaded us that this act, though in keeping with tradition, is actually counterproductive. Why would the university, having spent so much time and money in trying to improve our intelligence, put this achievement at risk by giving us a short, sharp crack over the head?
Another comedian suggested that graduation was like an arts degree; pretty, stunning, but ultimately pointless.
At the end of the day however (and as the proud holder of an arts degree!), I feel that graduation is something to be cherished. Whether this is because you want to celebrate your successes with friends and family, or merely want to prance around pretending to be Harry Potter, remains up to you…
Visit our website for a list of upcoming events and more information about our exhibitions https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/museum/events