Back in Durham for Graduation.

Durham Market Square

I somehow lacked the feeling of closure.

SO much has happened in the last week! After what felt to be four endless months, I finally went back to Durham to attend my graduation.

After I moved back to Hamburg last September, I often couldn’t believe that my time at Durham University was over. It felt like I was just on a break, but eventually would be back. As I had handed in my dissertation back in September but my graduation didn’t take place until January 14th, I somehow lacked the feeling of closure.

St. Chad's CollegeSt. Chad’s – my college.

Last Wednesday, when my family and I flew over to the UK to attend my graduation, I was both excited and nervous. How would I feel going back to the place I called home for a year after so many months?

The moment I stepped out of the taxi and found myself stood on the Market Square, a beaming smile appeared on my face and I felt as if I had never left this wonderful town. Everything looked the way it had when I had last seen it, and the feeling of being back home was both heart-warming and surreal. I had waited for this day for months, and suddenly being able to walk those familiar streets again made me forget about all my worries back home immediately.

Durham Market Square

Durham Market Square in the sunshine.

On the morning of graduation I woke up to snow. In fact, it was snowing so heavily that the snow seemed to fall horizontally. Perfect conditions for wearing a dress, heels, and a graduation gown only. Only benefit: Durham and the cathedral, inside which the ceremony took place, looked even more magical.

Durham Castle courtyard

Courtyard of Durham castle, before the snow started falling…

The ceremony was wonderful; we were greeted by the academic procession, and each individual student was called forward to be congratulated by the chancellor. Until then, I didn’t entirely realize that I had truly finished my master’s degree. But when my name was called, I walked up the steps to the chancellor, he shook my hand, and I turned around to face the audience and to walk back to my seat, I knew I had done it. One year of exhausting and hard work finally acknowledged and finished.
Durham Cathedral

The cathedral on a grey winter’s day.

Usually, I don’t pride myself in my achievements, but in this moment, I couldn’t help but to be as proud and thankful as I had rarely been before. In his speech, the vice-chancellor said a sentence that strongly resonated with me: “Remember, you worked hard, and you also were hard work.”

Without the support of my friends and family who listened to and endured my constant whining about the workload throughout the entire year, who cared for me when I was terribly sick in bed, and who built me up when I thought I was lost when writing my dissertation, this achievement wouldn’t have been possible.

Remember, you worked hard, and you also were hard work.

Graduation

Me, officially graduated!

In everything we achieve in our lives, we need to remember this: No matter how hard you worked and how many lonely hours you spent working, it is the people who stand behind us and support us that deserve our gratitude. For it is your friends and family members who enable you in the first place to find the energy you need to succeed in your challenges.

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