As predicted my few days at home were short and sweet, spent with all the people most important to me yet over far too quickly! My flight from Zadar to Stansted was delayed in true Ryanair fashion and then spent in the company of about 30 rather rowdy Irish gypsies. Needless to say when I finally found Mum at arrivals I was more than happy to see her and enjoy a peaceful car journey home catching up. A cup of tea was order of the day as soon as I got home, before getting my nails done (needed to look nice when for grad photos of course!) and visiting my Nan and Grandad. As always, they were over the moon to see me and whilst it can be very difficult to get a word in edgeways with Nan, Grandad sat quietly in his chair just listening and enjoying the company of family.
After dinner I headed down to Brighton with Mum, Dad and Ash and quite frankly felt the tiredest I can ever remember feeling. I thought I was going to collapse. I know I have been working and playing hard at camp but it seemed like catching up on sleep was not going to be as attainable at home as I had hoped. My brother’s lap ended up being a great pillow on the drive down to Brighton, and whilst I am reluctant to accept it, Mum is adamant I was snoring to the rhythm of the music. Before I knew it we had arrived and I was in the company of my housemates, all of us back together for one of the last times in the foreseeable future.
With graduation at 10am there was no chance of a lie in and at 6.45 I was in the shower, despite forgetting to pack a towel in a suitcase that appeared to have everything except the kitchen sink considering I was only staying for 2 nights. Having been organised for once in my life, I had bought my dress and shoes before I went to Croatia and was ready in the hour, hair and make-up actually done reasonably nicely for once too! Getting my hat and gown on arrival I couldn’t quite believe that I was finally graduating after 3 years. Even now it seems like a bit unbelievable than my uni life, those ‘best years of your life’ that everyone seems to claim, are over (I’m not sure they are just yet- the upcoming few years definitely have potential). But it is mad that for now my years in education, that started when I was 4, have come to an end.
I was the last person in History to graduate, in true Zym… style after they decided to call people in alphabetical order! But before I knew it I was standing on the edge of the stage waiting for my name to be called. My heart was beating so fast and I was so much more nervous than I thought I would be, mainly because I decided that I had been doing really well in my heels and could definitely manage to walk the short distance across the stage in them. Inevitably at that moment I was instantly regretting my decision and that short distance did not seem so short anymore. I heard the woman say ‘Zoe’ and before I knew it I was tottering across the stage whilst I could hear my Dad cheering for me. I can’t tell you where I was looking or whether they even managed to pronounce my surname correctly I was so desperate to just make it across the stage. Up in front of my face appeared Matthew Cragoe, head of the department, enthusiastically shaking my hand whilst I was thanking him with the biggest grin on my face. And that was it; Graduated!
Photos, hat throwing and catching up all ensued in the hour that followed the ceremony before we had to hand back our gowns. I managed to see my tutor, who congratulated me on my dissertation and grade before my Dad mistook him for just another undergraduate and began frantically ushering him into a photo with my friends. Needless to say poor Jake scurried off after this! Admittedly Dad wasn’t to know otherwise, he didn’t look very old or ‘professor-like’. A meal with the family and some fun on the pier followed. Still slightly bitter than I was beaten by a random 5 year old on the Dolphin Derby!
I spent my evening with my housemates for what seems like the last time in the foreseeable future. These guys have made my last year at uni so fun and enjoyable despite us all having a crazy amount of essays to write and me having knee surgery at the start of the year. Lauren thank you for always appreciating my random stories and sharing so many of your own with me, and for teaching me some fantastic dance moves in the kitchen (they are going down a treat on camp disco nights). A massive thank you to Alice for giving me a place and people to live with for third year and for looking after me when my alcohol intake has been worryingly high on more than one occasion! Jon, I will miss not being able to listen to you play guitar from my room, and being able to come and sing along, not to mention also missing our crazy deep conversations after which I am always wondering how the hell we ended up on those topics! I look forward to the day we finally write our book, and until then you will always be my chief pre-posting blog reader! And finally, Abi, thank you so much for being the most fantastic friend over all 3 years, for always being there and putting up with me no matter what. You are the best and I cant wait to be bridesmaid when you and Beautiful Boy get married 😉
My Mum drove me and the last of my belongings back to London on the Saturday. An accident on the M25 meant we went shopping in Brighton one last time, much to the disappointment of Roisin and Megan who I had to ring and cancel meeting up with back home (little did Ro know we were surprising her for her birthday in the evening). Upon arriving home I had only 1 hour to complete the list of boring admin/paperwork jobs I had accumulated at camp that needed to be completed. Before I knew it I was rushing out the door (always rushing) to the restaurant in time for Ro’s surprise birthday meal. And what a surprise for her it was. It was so nice to see everyone again and catch up. A few too many glasses of wine later and they headed on out and I headed home in time to throw everything in a bag and hit the hay before my flight.
And that was that. My time with my family rapidly ran out, like the sand in an egg timer, and before I knew it I was on my way to Heathrow for my flight back to camp. Of course, like my flight home this was never to be uneventful. The collection of strange but rather innocent items in my hand luggage was to guarantee a stop and search. I went in armed with a smile and pointed out that the 8 bars of chocolate were not all for me, neither were the size 8 water shoes, and that the 300 googly eyes, tissue paper and bunting could be explained as I was working at a summer camp with limited supplies! Thankfully she was in a good mood and let me through with all this and my 90 pairs of contact lenses, 40 wax strips and 4 bars of Daim too. The rest was smooth sailing and before I knew it I was being reunited with some fantastic co-workers and friends having spent the last few days with the somme of the best family and friends a girl could ask for.