Posted by: Audrey Thorstad | January 31, 2012

Graduation and Christmas

Quite a bit has happened since I last wrote (sorry about that). Here is a little summary of my ‘happenings’.

First, and foremost I graduated with my MA degree in mid-December. It was all the pomp and tradition one would expect from an English graduation ceremony. The graduation ceremony was short and sweet while my parents supportively got up at 5.30am to watch the ceremony live via a webcam the University set up and broadcast over the web. The celebrations after the ceremony were more exciting than the actual walking the stage and shaking the hand of the vice-chancellor to receive my degree certificate. The History school put on a reception after the ceremony with a group photo that took far longer than it should of considering we all had at least master’s degrees. Not to mention the gown worn by masters’ students includes a hood when worn makes one look like a jedi. Needless to say the hood was used extensively for light saber fights. That evening the festivities continued at the local pub (again everything one would expect from a British celebration). We were ONE point away from winning the pub quiz.

The standard graduation picture

Richard and I

Receiving my degree and shaking hands with the vice chancellor

The master jedis

During the week before graduation I took a trip down to London to see Kath and Greer (who came over from the US for graduation). I finally made it to the British Library and saw some amazing manuscripts! The three of us also made a trip to York for some Christmas shopping and touristy bits. I also finally made it to the Jorvik Viking Center which is a recreation of the York Viking village. You get to ride a ‘Disney-like’ ride through the village that recreates the sights, sounds AND smells of the Vikings. (Phew.)

The ride at Jorvik and the Viking village!

Then came my first Christmas away from the Thorstads. Thankfully the Low family invited me to spend the holidays with them down in Newport Pagnell. Although it definitely wasn’t the same as Duluth (there was no snow and it was about 40-50 degrees!), however it was as good a Christmas away from home as it could be. The celebrations started with the Christmas Eve Eve party at the local pub, it was packed wall to wall. Christmas Eve was spent shopping at the Milton Keynes shopping center getting some last minute gifts. And Christmas was absolutely amazing. We started at the pub around 11am (surprised?) then came Richard’s dad attempt at cooking Christmas dinner since his mother was working until the afternoon. The British Christmas and the American Christmas are more or less the same: you drink too much, eat more than is humanly possible, watch ridiculous Christmas specials on TV and eat leftovers for days. However, there are a few key differences I learned:

  1. Figgy pudding is a staple desert after dinner, although no one is entirely sure what it actually is (but when something is covered in brandy & lit on fire I guess you just don’t question it).
  2. The wrong kind of football is on TV.
  3. Christmas crackers (see picture below) are so much fun & everyone gets a crown, but I am the only one to laugh at the jokes inside.
  4. Oh and if you pull the Christmas crackers too hard the toy will go flying and possibly land in the tree not to be recovered until after the tree is taken down.
  5. The pub is open Christmas morning so you either get up before the pub opens to open your present or you have to wait until after last call.

The Christmas cracker. You pull it apart and there is a mini toy, a crown and a joke inside!

Crown wearing! Obviously one of us isn’t too happy about wearing their crown all night!

As far as my research and writing is going…well its going. I have been working diligently on my transfer piece which is a sample of writing (usually a chapter & a bit). This is then read by a panel of academics in the history school & discussed with me in length. THey, then, make the decision if my research is ‘PhD worthy’. YIKES!

Upcoming things include: a trip down to London to see the National Archives and handle some medieval manuscripts, another trip down to London to visit Kath and a long weekend in Portugal in March for Easter break!

I shall leave you with this quote: Destitutus ventis remos adhibe (If the wind will not serve – take the oars) – Latin proverb

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