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Gaudeamus Igitur

October 25, 2013

NUI Galway

NUI Galway

So, it finally happened.
I graduated.
It’s been a long time coming.

As a young one of 17, (Janis Ian fans may hum along now), I arrived at University College, Galway – as it was known then. In the weeks running up to that October, I worried that I had chosen the wrong discipline. I was heading into four years of Science, with a view to specialising in Marine Biology. Except in those days the word specialise really didn’t exist for young Irish students; we just did a subject, and that was that.

Well, I did Zoology, Microbiology, Maths, Physics, and Biochemistry. Apart from the Zoology practicals on Saturday mornings and the funky Microbiology lectures, I was miserable.

But – as the Gaudeamus says – I was young and happy beyond those lecture halls and laboratories. I had a ball making new friends. I handed out the student newspaper UNITY. I hung out with the Music Soc outside the Bialann, selling tickets. I went to Archaeology lectures and on field trips (the Professor asked me to take the final year exams,but they clashed with Maths). I sang in the college madrigal group and the choir. I didn’t join Dramsoc because I thought I should do a bit of studying.
Prof Rynne & UCG Archaeology Soc.

Prof Rynne & UCG Archaeology Soc.

Given that I later tried my hand at acting, I would have been better off doing drama – because the final year exams were a disaster. Physics, Maths and I were never going to have a cosy relationship. I left my beloved UCG under a cloud; leaving my friends to continue without me. It’s not a good thing to feel a failure at 18.

Life went on, as it does. I moved to the Burren, where this archaeology field trip photo was taken. In early summer 2008, I attended the funeral of one of those old archaeology friends. Two of my closest friends were in the car on the way home. The conversation veered towards college: memories and otherwise. They both encouraged me to go back, to try again. That night I was out for dinner – another friend started the same conversation. I began to think about it, seriously.

In 2009, I went back to NUI Galway – we both had changed with the years. This time, I knew what I wanted, and already had succeeded – there were only 15 places on the Writing course that was my chosen specialism. I also took English in First Year, my final degree being in Classics and History.

I made more friends, among the student cohort and the lecturers. It was a hundred km return journey every day. There were icy roads, floods, and car problems.  It was tough. It was pure joy. But I got there – with First Class Honours.

I couldn’t have done it without the encouragment and support of my friends and family.

This week I paraded into the hall with my fellow ‘BA with Writing’ students – to the strains of Gaudeamus Igitur. The night before, my friend Mary – who had been at UCG with me in those early years and who had always encouraged me to go back –  texted me; she would be thinking of me and singing Gaudeamus Igitur.

Finally, I got the graduation photo with my parents.

It’s been a long wait. But, I got there.


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  1. Blue permalink

    Burstin’ with pride I am! That’s my SISTER!
    Huggies, love, smiles and so,so much more xxxxxxxxxx

  2. Libby permalink

    I love and admire your spirt and enthusiasm for life! Well done done petal!!!!
    Loved the stories. Always believed in you.
    Gra mor,
    Libby x

    • Thanks a million! It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and continued interest of my pals. There were times when eyes could have glazed over – but they didn’t! And I appreciate that SO much. x

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