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06 May 2009

Don's Graduation

written by: Don

After many years of constant frustration and disappointment (CFD), I finally reached the end of the road and graduated with my PhD degree.

As they say in German: 'Everything has an end, only the sausage has two.' No idea what this actually means in this context, but I thought this is a cool opening for this blog. :-P

Well maybe I do know why: the graduation day has everything to do with 'the end'. The end of a four-year long journey, the end of a chapter of my life. The day felt a bit wierd, I do have to say. I have left the college and been in full-time employment for more than 1.5 years already, and yet in my mind, it is only this day that had brought a final closure to my university life. When everything was over and done with on the day, in the afternoon, I walked across the grounds of the university. A strange feeling rose in me. I was thinking that this would probably be the last time for a good long while before I would return to the Campus. This is an idea that has crossed my mind before: this strange feeling that creeps up your back when you realise that this could be the last time in your life for you to visit a certain place, or see certain people. I mean, obviously, nothing stops me from going there again. I could visit the college right now if I want to. But it would not be the same. I guess I am being sentimental here..

But let me go back to where the story starts. After four years of hard (and from time to time admittedly less hard) work, this ceremony is supposed to mark the final point of this chapter of my life, a day of celebration, with family and friends. So my parents, Karl and Birgit's parents all booked their air tickets, ready to have a great day in London together. Coincidentally, this day would have been the Birthday of my mum too, so some big scale celebrations were at hand.

As some of you know, this didn't quite work out that way. The literal swine came in our way! My parents were prevented from coming over from Hong Kong by the outbreak of the swine flu, which was a real shame. So it was down to Birgit's parents, Birgit and myself to keep the spirit high.

When I first arrived at the college in the morning to pick up my gown, I was a bit surprised to be handed a ruby-coloured gown instead of a black one. You can imagine I was rather glad that I didn't take the pink tie... It took me a while to find out that this was the colour for the Ph.D. degree of the university of London, while black was for Master's degrees only. I do have to say that those black gowns did look better! For a split second, I wished I have only done a Master's! ;-) We then ran into Khadijeh, who has also done her Ph.D. at the Department of Aeronautics. I was quite delighted to see her again, but, damn it, that ruby gown did suit her much better too!

The ceremony in the grand Royal Albert Hall was pretty much what I have expected: impressive atmosphere, some endless announcements of names (each graduate is called up to the stage one by one, at a total of over 1500 graduates), and then over very very fast when it came down to my part. I was summoned to the stage, walked up, shook hands (or was it just A hand?), and was off again, all in all on stage for no longer than... 10 seconds? Birgit was trying to capture this 'special' moment when I was on stage, but funny enough, the parents of the girl right behind me in the queue were sitting right in front of her, so when I was on stage, these fellows were getting so excited about their daughter already and were jumping up and down, going mental. So all the photos Birgit took were obstructed... haha. Ah well, at least I am sure our dinner at the Kenningston Roof Gardens was far better than theirs!



Amelia wrote on 01 July 2009:

Paul and I wish we had been there to share every moment with all of you. The announcements in Hong Kong about the swine flu and the closure of one of the hotels to isolate the guests inside from the population of Hong Kong did make people remember the uncertainties and fear we had during the SARS that attached Hong Kong in 2003. I toasted to Donís graduation at my birthday dinner which is on the same day of the graduation and I wish Don all the best forever and ever. We are all very proud of you.

Michelle wrote on 02 July 2009:

Congratulations Don! :)

Terence wrote on 03 July 2009:

Hi Don,

Wow.. should call you Doctor Wu from now on...

Congratulations!!!! On behalf of our family, I toasted to your graduation. We are so happy for you. It is a pity that we cannot share the happiest moment on your graduation day. We are all proud of you.

Wish you all the best.

God Bless you both,


On behalf of Uncle Martin, Auntie Alice, Steve and Sally

Will & Clara wrote on 03 July 2009:

Hi Don, Great stuff man!! Congratulations DOC WU!!! We shall treat you to a meal of some sort when i see you either in England or Hong Kong or where ever it will take us.

Take care and well done!!

p.s. still jealous of your imac :P

Steve wrote on 04 July 2009:


We are so proud of you!

I am sure you have much more to share with us, so let's have a drink when you and Birgit come back to HK!

Looking forward,

Steve & Sally

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