So I passed my Master’s Degree, yes me. I
Jodie Portugal has a Master’s Degree, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with it before anyone asks.
The fact I have it is surreal, how I found out was also surreal.
Sitting with my sister Anna in Berlin, and filming my reaction while drinking vodka.
Now I have to decide if I want to attend my Graduation or not, even after making it through my Master’s Degree.
But that means going to Kingston, something which doesn’t exactly fill me with joy.
Being the one who deferred, I missed out on seeing the class of 2016. The class I was meant to be a graduate, and then had to meet and try to establish friendships with the class of 2017. That wasn’t easy, It’s amazing how different a year is because when I went back, I found an entirely different experience.
Perhaps it was the new political sphere, the fact that Democracy didn’t work the way they desired. Let’s blame Donald Trump because he’s such an easy target! But there was an undercurrent of tension amongst the students, which meant it was harder to relate to anyone. Additionally, for some reason, it was so easy for them to get offended by nothing.
Sometimes with the other students, and I will be writing more about this at a later date. Perhaps if I get a job far away in the Antarctic, where they can’t find me. When it came to the lectures, at times, it became a type of class warfare.
One of the best examples of this doesn’t relate to my own experience. A male working-class student who came to class straight from his job wrote a fantastic story on what it is to be a disenfranchised working class man in today’s society, written like a black comedy.
For all this hard work and efforts, the piece was sexist, and it was all about “Patriarchy”. Because he dared to be brutally honest, and do it brilliantly.
Instead of constructive criticism on a creative piece, sometimes it became a character assignation. Just because someone writes about a subject, doesn’t mean they, themselves believe in it. We were all on the course to become better writers, and that means going out of our comfort zone and exploring new ideas.
Looking around the University, there were so many things that never made sense to me, and I still don’t understand how the university sphere has changed since I did my BA and it wasn’t that long ago. It’s like a small minority of the current students are taught to be victims, to the extent they believe it themselves.
This is what I didn’t sign up for, but something I had to endure. For years I’ve read about the outrage culture in USA Universities, and I never thought I would ever encounter it there.
But luckily that was only one of the classes, the other where we shared and critiqued poetry and stories were nice. At the time, all my work was based on my dad, and they were really supportive of me about it. So kudos to them.
Overall the thought of going back to my University for my Graduation gives me a sense of unease. There were many students I liked, and my Tutors were pretty cool, especially when I had to defer because my dad was dying of cancer.
Besides, I was there for an MA, for the Batchelor Students and the rest, the ones who made Kingston their home and enjoyed their time studying and working hard. Then this is their time and their Graduation, they’re the ones who’ve earned it.
Another reason not to go is that Winchester was my home for four years. Over my many misadventures, I partied in Bop (The Student Union), chilled out on the grass next to the Statue of King Alfred, and staggered up the really steep hill to West Downes. Even though I haven’t really gone back since 2004, it was my home.
With Kingston, I just got on a bus a couple of times a week.
Perhaps I’m really being too hard on the situation, but in comparison to my original University which admittedly even then I had a hard time settling in. I didn’t have the “University Experience”, I had to do my Degree and pretty much work full time, and that was the reality of my situation.
More importantly, when it comes to Graduations, Winchester do things with style.
The ceremony itself was in Winchester Cathedral, place of the grave of Jane Austen, Tomb of Cardinal Beaufort and it was way too long, but it was historic. Winchester is, of course, the original capital of England, and well, I had just passed my BA, so it was a moment of pride to be there with my parents, and my grandmothers.
In 2017, it’s just going to be my mum since I doubt my siblings will be able to take time off work. Unlike Winchester, for guests’ ticket’s you have to pay £23 per person, for the privilege. Winchester does them for free.
Throw in the cap and gown, and that’s another £51 for rental for something I’m going to wear for a few hours, along with the photographs and everything else. From a financial point of view, it feels like a waste of money. Besides, I can get a picture done at a studio in Kingston, with my family at a later date, which is more appealing.
Another thing which bothers me is that in Kingston, there are no Balls. Kingston University has no Balls, apart from the start of the year. So they have their Graduation Ball at the START of the year, celebrating something they haven’t even done yet?
Unlike Winchester, which was an event. We totally took over Winchester Guildhall, there were floors of music, it was a great atmosphere and a total celebration. I still don’t remember getting back to where I was staying.
Overall, I’m proud of myself for doing a Master’s Degree. I am trying to figure out what to do with it with returning after deferring, and all the issues I faced when my dad died.
I have to congratulate Kingston for all the help they did give me, I really wish the experience of being a Mature Student was a lot better the second time around.
So to go or not? Have to admit it will be nice to see some of the staff again and a few of the students. To be the Graduating Class of 2017, even though my time in Kingston could have been better.
However, I do want a Bear, yes, it has been pointed out to me that I’m not a child. But I want a Graduation Bear.
When I Graduated first time around, my parents got me a Bear from The Bear Factory (remember them), and I’ve still got it. And now I want another one, but from Build a Bear, since they took over The Bear Factory, years ago.
I’m graduating, I’ve earned that bear, with the sash and everything.
Aside from these small instances I mentioned, I did enjoy Kingston, it’s a beautiful place with great shops and a beautiful city.
The University was really supportive of my situation and gave me all the help I needed when I was struggling through the final weeks. I was published in a book, so it wasn’t all bad.
However, regarding Kingston, I do think it was undeserved of the current 102 ranking in the League Tables out of 129. I give it so much respect for it’s diversity, library, all the fantastic societies, the inclusivity and all the staff and students, especially the ones who have just graduated. But to go to the ceremony, yes I’m a little unclear.