So, my former flatmate has reached the “middle point” of his Masters at Oxford. As part of this achievement he has ascended to the point where he is allowed to wear subfusc (better known to most as a school uniform). He also gets a college (Kellogg) and with all this shiny new stuff he can participate in the act of matriculation.
Matriculation is a ceremony in Latin telling all the Oxford students they are now real live students of Oxford and not just students in Oxford. (and apparently if you don’t go you can’t ever graduate, ever) It takes place in the Exams School or the Sheldonian Theatre and if you have £40 pounds you can do it too.
That’s right, if you have the mad skills, you can matriculate from Oxford.
Matriculation takes place over a day, usually a Saturday, and the focus is to MATRICULATE EVERYONE. Because it is such a mad house only family and friends from overseas come out to witness it. In our case our flatmates matriculation took place at the Examination School, so it was direct off High Street (a main street of Oxford). Family and friends were regulated to an alleyway across from the glorious gates where, every half hour, about 500 students marched in and then out about 10 minutes later. It was, truly, an impressive thing to watch. First, the person for the college would march up and line the students up in scrunched rows so not to be hit by cars. Then, police would spread the lines and on signal everyone would go into the Examination School. Because there were so many students it felt like Oxford was just birthing them out of thin air, subfusc at the ready.
We waited and took hundreds of pictures when our flatmate appeared. His Mom came from Turkey and she cried and told us how proud she was. Surrounding her were several other Moms, Dads, Brothers, Sisters, Cousins, and friends, all doing the same thing.
But in all this madness it struck me – if I were to get a hold of subfusc and dart into the line I could matriculate. Because Oxford has Masters and PhD programmes, all sorts of people of all sorts of ages were in those lines…
And then I would know the ancient ceremony. And there I would probably stand in the hallway, clutching my very worn out copy of Wheelock’s Latin and frantically looking up the verb “to go.” (Dang me for only utilizing the Romance language of Italian since graduating with my Classics degree 10 years ago!) But I would get through, past a guy holding some big stick (words from my flatmate) and back out through the gates – a changed woman.
Mock me all you want but I am sort of considering it. Maybe next year I’ll crash Encaenia and get me an honorary degree to match my matriculation.