The Graduate

Four years of studying, voyaging and exploring European languages and cultures culminated at the end of June! Tears of happiness were shed when I discovered my degree result (2:1) and I can summarise the final month that I passed in Durham as a bittersweet whirlwind of fun spent with friends. I say bittersweet, because as the saying goes, ‘All good things must come to an end’ and the cumulative sadness at having to leave our Durham student days behind was omnipresent not only during our Congregation ceremony but also throughout the final weeks of japes and escapades. I’m sad to have left, but there are no words really to describe my happiness at having had the chance and honour to have lived in Durham, Clermont Ferrand and Konstanz, thanks to my Degree, and I am so thankful to have met all the friends I have made along the way. Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Dr Seuss – here’s another one of his wise quotes that can bring us all comfort when dealing with rites of passage…

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!” – Dr Seuss

I think I will be smiling for years to come.

As I was conferred a Bachelor of Arts (in Modern Languages French and German), I had to wear a robe with white faux fur trim – there is a different type of hood for each degree  programme. We  were fitted for our robes (no mortar boards in the Durham grad regalia, although I had a professional photo taken with one on!) and assembled in the Great Hall of University College (otherwise known as Durham ‘Castle’, where some lucky students live) to be put in alphabetical order. We walked from the Castle courtyard into the Cathedral in a procession.

It rained. Quite a lot. I know England has a stereotype of being a rainy climate… but it had been quite a sunny June!

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I defy thee, rain! Me with my little Lulu Guinness umbrella standing in front of a traditional red phone box and a letter box on Palace Green.

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Casually pretending to be Hermione Granger… in the Cathedral cloisters. The ceremony took place in the Cathedral.

I have a lot more photos from this month and the last Durham days (including my graduation), so stay posted! For now, it’s time for me to look ahead on to my next pursuit…. whatever that may be!

A glimpse of Hogwarts

Took a little stroll in the early evening, off the beaten track, through the graveyard meadow that overlooks the River Weir… and Durham Cathedral*. Stopped to take this photo of the Cathedral framed by a canopy of leaves. It was a beautiful day, warm, the town teeming with people – a mix of locals ready for the weekend, and students relieved to have finished their exams…
I still have one exam to go, but I am glad to have the extra time to do a bit more revision. It’s hard to frown when the weather is so beautiful, the city so magical and when you realise that southern fried chicken is for tea!

*I got an invite to dinner in the Cathedral recently which was followed by drinks in a Victorian pub. This city has a lot of character, that’s for sure.

Starry Night Nails

The colours of the Durham sky fading from day into night have been really beautiful recently – a mix of navy blue shades. As a student, it is sometimes easy to forget your surroundings and take them for granted. However, a week ago I was walking home to college down Kingsgate Bridge when I paused to look over my shoulder and saw the cathedral bathed in golden lamplight against an ethereal blue sky. I had to stop and take a photo. Durham Cathedral was voted the nation’s best loved building in 2001 and has since been used as a backdrop for scenes from the Harry Potter films. It is not difficult to see why it is such a convincing setting for a story of magic and wizardry.

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The colours of the sky reminded me of one of my favourite paintings – Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’. It is a painting that I studied during my art lessons in school , I remember being entranced by the rich use of colour and swirling brushstrokes. In October 2011, my Aunt and Uncle took me to visit the Auberge in Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent the last of his days – it proved to be an extremely interesting visit and certainly rejuvenated my love for the brilliant paintings of the troubled Van Gogh.

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It was with this colour scheme in mind that I repainted my chipped nail varnish with swirls of blue and purple glitter and flecks of gold. Here’s to you, Van Gogh!

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Huzzah for Duzza

Because who doesn’t love snow and lecturers who give you carambar on a frosty morning?
For any French speakers out there, I include the hilariously bad joke that I discovered on my carambar wrapper…

Quel acteur est une copie de lui-même?
George Cloné

BADOM BOM TSCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Top notch entertainment from carambar, as always.

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Onto the main theme of this post…. SNOW. For someone who comes from an Island with quite a mild climate, where it almost never snows, I am always amazed by snow. (If ever a centimetre was to fall on Guernsey, radio warnings would go out ordering everyone to stay off the PERILOUSLY ICY roads. If this occurred during term time, we would get the day off school. I still have fond memories of these snow days… but all the snow would thaw by the end of the day)

IN DURHAM THERE IS REAL SNOW. THEY DON’T KNOW PERILOUS CONDITIONS. However I am no snow leopard. I am not used to these climes. And often, I become Bambi on ice. I slip, I slide, even when I am wearing Doc Martens.

Around this time last year, when I was living in France, I had the opportunity to go skiing for a day for the almost unbelievably low price of ten euros. I had such a brilliant time; eating st nectaire (cheese) in the mountains, wearing bright aqua salopettes, and trying to avoid causing collisions on the button lift (or as it is delicately known in French…the tire-fesse) Being surrounded by snow and chalets was an incredible feeling and I really hope to ski some more one day. But until now, just the sight of snow will suffice… However… although it is very beautiful in Durham, I still miss the snowcapped volcanoes of Clermont, the crisp icy feeling of walking home on powdered pavements after a midnight tram ride…. and I also miss the stunning view across the Bodensee of the snow covered mountains on the Swiss/German border of Konstanz.

I digress, here are some pictures of a snowy northern city.

(In the first picture…. has our stag mascot been visited by his friend the Yeti? This made me smile at ten am in the morning… small things!)

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The third picture down is the view from my window. Aren’t I lucky to have such a lovely fairytale view? (Maybe I am over exaggerating… it’s the snow that has gone to my head!)