Frislander wrote:Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been posting much over the last few days. There is a simple reason for this; I have finally gone up to university. This morning I, along with 122 other freshers, assembled in the hall for this year's matriculation* ceremony at Selwyn College Cambridge.
Interesting - we did our matriculations as a university (iirc we trooped over there from the college in a group, and back, and had photos in the college, but the ceremony itself was in the Sheldonian; I also don't remember having to sign anything, but maybe I did. I must in some way have sworn an oath not to bring a lighted flame into the Bod, but I've no idea if that was in writing or speech. Actually, I think it may have been a form sent in before the ceremony?).
We all wore our college gowns (black with blue facings) over our suits/dresses (I now love British academic dress with all my heart).
The gowns are great. Unfortunately, we're then never allowed to wear them in any situation every again. This may be a big reason why people become professional academics, since that's about the only opportunity for wearing them. You particularly have to feel for Scholars/Exhibitioners/etc who get special gowns, but still don't get to wear them ever again..
[I should point out: there's no such thing as British academic dress. The old universities have totally different systems. You, I gather, have some sort of college-specific version of a bachelor's gown, with bell sleeves? At Oxford, we have uniform black "commoner's gowns", which are a weird Elizabethan thing where the 'sleeves' are just long thin strips of material.]
In the days immediately preceding this I have been overwhelmed by a raft of fresher's events, from services in the chapel to parties in communal college buildings. I have also been amazed at the great diversity of the student body of the college, such as discovering that another of the linguists in college is Tashelhiyt Berber, a historian on my corridor is half-Basque, and finding a great new friend in a mixed-Cantonese/Hokkien natsci*** even in the first couple of days. And this is before I even start my scholarly pursuit of linguistics!
Yes - Oxbridge is extremely cosmopolitan, and probably even more so now than when I was there (as the universities desparately appeal to more non-EU students, who can be made to pay a lot more than EU students have to 'pay'
That's not to say I've had an entirely positive experience (there have been one or two moments over the weekend where I've felt overcrowded by people, and I've had multiple attacks of imposter syndrome over the last couple of days) but I have managed to overcome each of these in turn, and in spite of these I feel transformed by the last three days.
Congratulations! I suggest you sign up for lots of things, even if you immediately drop out of them. The biggest thing I'd change about my time at uni would be signing up for more things. [I mean, I'd probable do (/not do) the same things today, but that doesn't mean I don't recognise that that's not a good thing...].
And yeah, it's kind of overwhelming, and not always in a good way: suddenly surrounded by hundreds of total strangers, in a strange place, with a variety of cultural and personality difference. And for a lot of people, homesickness will set in in a few weeks too; but it passes.