By Andrada Pop | April 4, 2021
Cover Illustration: Woman participating in online graduation. Mohammad Shahhosseini / Unsplash
It goes without saying that this year’s university graduation was bound to be different. Ordinarily, it would be a moment to celebrate the hard work and dedication students put into their bachelor’s. However, for a while now, it has been clear that the celebration will not take place in its traditional form at the University of Amsterdam.
Within the UvA, faculties have decided to choose different ways in which they will organize their graduation ceremonies. Nevertheless, one thing they all share is the refusal to host any kind of in-person event. And although the prospect of graduating from university in front of your laptop may not be very appealing, graduation itself is still something worth celebrating. Or at least so say many 2020 graduates who had their celebration right in the middle of the global pandemic.
Q: The graduation ceremony holds a lot of significance for every graduate. What did it mean for you?
“The graduation ceremony was supposed to be a celebration of a significant milestone in my life…and a celebration with the people who made the journey together.” – Naina Parasher
“To me specifically, it means a lot because I have two bachelor’s degrees and I haven’t had even one ceremony. My first bachelor was from Bulgaria and when I was supposed to have my ceremony I had my first exam week in Amsterdam… so I was really looking forward to my graduation ceremony in Amsterdam after 8 years of higher education.” – Nanda Mohamed
“No one in my family, like my immediate family, has been to university… Graduation is always special and it’s always in a special building and you get to dress up and feel nice…. whenever I was going through a hard time at uni, I would always think that one day I’ll be walking across that stage. I could always be at that final point. And although I didn’t think I really cared about it that much, deep down I think I do.” – Ellie Caulfield
Q: It is presumed that everyone makes up scenarios in their head of how their graduation day would look like. How did you envision your graduation when you started your Bachelor’s?
“I did know that the ceremonies at UvA aren’t as big of a celebration as the American counterpart…so my expectations were rather limited to maybe wearing a cap and gown and thanking the people who helped me make the journey. I do think that at least the latter will be possible virtually.” – Naina Parasher
“I envisioned having my family at the ceremony and them finally seeing me in a graduation gown and cap… then celebrating our 3 years of studying with friends, going out for drinks together, dancing, and just enjoying our success. I definitely did not picture graduating in the middle of a pandemic where none of us could meet, celebrate, or even find a job because of all that is happening.” – Nanda Mohamed
“I’ve always had that image of me, like tripping over my feet or something, going across the stage and just having that moment… having nice pictures [taken] and holding my degree certificate. I’ve always had that kind of an angle. And I think a lot of people do… I just think that online just can’t do it justice, to be honest. I’m done with online.” – Ellie Caulfield
Q: Perhaps you can inspire the readers by telling us what plans you had to celebrate your graduation?
“Ideally, I would have gone out for drinks with my friends and peers, but since it was still lockdown times, I connected with a couple of my closest friends and we did a small celebration at home instead… To make up for the oomph of collecting the certificate in a ceremony versus wearing a mask and going to a room, we made up for it by dressing up and making it an occasion and doing a quick photoshoot.” – Naina Parasher
“I don’t really have any plans, since our entire bachelor’s class is scattered all around the world and all around the Netherlands at this point. However, I and a couple of my friends did like a mini celebration back in October, we went to get our certificates together and took pictures.”
– Nanda Mohamed
“Actually I couldn’t properly celebrate. I guess I had a meal and like a bottle of champagne, but I couldn’t have a massive celebration that I would have usually had….” – Ellie Caulfield
Q: What is your take on the way the graduation was handled?
“Overall, I do not think UvA, or at least our faculty handled things properly. They took too long to come up with the online ceremony, whereas other faculties already had their ceremonies. Not to mention, other universities made the effort to at least send (by post) their alumni gowns and caps that they can wear during the online ceremony. I do realize that this situation is just as difficult for the university and the professors but they should realize that for our generation this pandemic was just like a stonewall suddenly appearing in front of us and stopping all of our plans for the future and making our career growth even harder.” – Nanda Mohamed
Graduating online might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to make the best out of this situation. Hopefully hearing from Naina who finished her Bachelor’s in Media and Information, Nanda who also graduated with the same Bachelor’s in June 2020, and Ellie who is currently doing her Master’s in Television and Cross-culture Media, has made you a bit more optimistic towards the future. The game might be over for now, but there is still room to level up.
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