If I can summarize graduation in a few words, I would describe it as ‘an interminable event’ in which you want to end quickly as soon as it started. I don’t hate graduations, but I see it as an over-hyped event, at least in my country. I’ll tell you why.
Just for the sake of receiving a single piece of paper, one has to spend two half-days, sitting in the graduation hall for two to three hours at the least. It is also a costly event ‘cuz one has to pay 7500 kyats for photos & DVDs even when you don’t want them. The last time I graduated from UDE, I looked so terrible in those photos ‘cuz it was shot so quickly and I didn’t have time to react to the camera. Also, if you add the 3000 kyats for the graduation gowns, the total fee is 10,000 kyats. And the amount doesn’t end there. Because you are dressed in your fine clothes, you have to take taxis if you don’t have a car instead of riding a bus so there was a taxi fee for four trips. And those who take photos with the camera men had to pay 500 kyats per photo. I didn’t take any solo photo with the cameramen, but I took one with a group of friends. I would also have to pay when I have the photos printed. I don’t know what to choose ‘cuz they are more than 300 pictures to choose from. I’m even starting to have a headache while choosing them to upload to Facebook.
Since this program started in the morning, most of the ladies have to get up early to put on makeup and style their hair in hair buns. Some of them put orchids on the hair while some use fancy hair clips. Most of them called on makeup artists to do the jobs. Only a few including me came with just a touch of powder and lipstick. Five years ago, when my sister and I graduated, we had two makeup artists done our makeup and hair. Although I did look better than I normally do, I hate wearing makeup. I also hate the fact that people are brainwashed into thinking that they need to dress up pretty just for a graduation. In western countries, all you need to do was put on a gown and a cap, walk up to the stage when your names is called and receive your degree/diploma. Most people I know here put take photos of themselves in the photo studios on the graduation day and hang them in their living room. I also took some photos at the studio the last time, but lucky for me, my father is against drilling holes in the walls so my mother didn’t get the chance to put up our graduation pictures.
Even though I didn’t want to put on makeup and stuff, I still wanted my hair to look nicer. So I had it shorter, but I wasn’t exactly happy with the result, which is in a mushroom style. I didn’t know how to style my hair so on both days, no matter how I tried, the hair bangs were curling up in the wrong directions. (Sorry, I don’t know the exact words to express it – I wanted to say ဆံပင္လန္ေနတယ္). Since the electricity was out, I couldn’t use the hair dryer, even if I know how to style my hair. I tried washing my hair later that day to see if it would get better on the next day, but it was pretty much the same. At least my cap hid most of them.
I dressed in a lavender blouse with a purple longyi with white lines on the rehearsal day. I didn’t want to spend money on clothing, but I didn’t want to wear the old ones that I wore back in 2005 so I borrowed my sister’s clothing. Both of us are slim and about the same size so all of her clothes fit me. On the graduation day, I borrowed a pink blouse from her since I needed a long sleeved one while I wore my own blue longyi with pink lines.
The first day is called the rehearsal day. On this day, the graduates dress in their finest clothing (especially the ladies) to show off their beauties and their expensive jewelries. Men usually wear a traditional jacket and longyi or a western suit while the ladies have to wear only a traditional blouse and longyi. It’s unfair that men get to wear pants while ladies aren’t even allowed to wear third-piece longyi skirts, which reveals their legs when they walk.
The ceremony started at 10 a.m and the attendees were supposed to be seated by 9:30 a.m, but of course most of them were outside taking photos. The ceremony was an informal one. The graduates practiced walking to the stage and receiving the degree/diploma from the Rector on the day of the graduation. It’s weird because after bowing and receiving the paper, one has to step back and then walk away. I barely remember what I did during my graduation five years ago ‘cuz I felt quite detached to that degree, so it was like starting afresh for me again. I had to wait till 11 o’clock till my name was called. I was seated next to my friend who was pretty much reticent on both days. I later heard from my other friend that people seated next to her were having a great time because they kept joking around.
The graduation ceremony the next day started an hour earlier, but it still ended after 11 a.m. I felt sorry for the Rector who had to stand still during the whole ceremony. Although the ceremony was over, I couldn’t leave until after 12:00 p.m because my mother kept making me stand in many different positions while taking photos.
My sister accompanied me on both days while my mother only came on the second day. My sister was happy to surrender the Kodak camera to my mother so that she can take whatever she wanted with the other camera. I don’t like taking many photos and even when I do take photos, I ended up frowning most of the times. I usually don’t smile in my photos and it’s difficult for me to smile as I fear that I would look goofy instead. Besides, it’s really difficult to stand still in the sunlight without blinking your eyes while several people are taking photos in different directions. Those anxious parents and relatives take pictures of our group photos as if they were the paparazzi. My sister got annoyed with them so she stopped taking photos until I had to go and grab her back from taking photos of others.
When I got home, I took a nap after lunch and woke up around 4pm to prepare myself to go to the dinner party. Out of forty-six students from our batch, twenty-three came along with four teachers. The foods were delicious, but I am disappointed with the service. It took too long for the food to arrive. They weren’t served until after 7 p.m, while half of us arrived around 6:30 p.m. The food arrangement was out of order. The soup, fried rice and fried Chinese kale were served last instead of the other way around. If the fried rice had arrived first, we could have eaten it together with other meals. But at least, we got a nice room with a view of the Shwedagon Pagoda.