Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner

Graduation Shmaduation


Many of you know that I missed my own graduation in order to spend time preparing for nationals in Colorado. So I’m going to count this ceremony as good for me too.

After tirelessly traversing London for two days, I woke up early to road trip to Scotland with Barbara and Mike to see my childhood friend (their daughter), Rachel graduate from St. Andrews University. By childhood friend, I mean that I held this girl on the day she was born (I was two-our moms are best friends). We go pretty far back.

The three of us piled into their small European-sized car, and started what I was told would be about the same as driving to Southern California from my house. I know that it was only the time consideration offered for comparison, but the Scottish countryside is nothing like the hellhole that is I-5. Rolling green hills spotted with sheep, cattle and old stone walls to separate each farmer’s land. Beautiful.

I scored a ticket last minute from Rachel’s roommate, so I was able to attend both the official ceremony as well as the Garden Party for refreshments afterward. The ceremony wasn’t too different from your traditional American one, except for the Latin, and the lack of caps (at the ‘moment’ of graduation, the students were adorned with a large ceremonial hood-type-thingamajig).

As we were taking pictures in the quad afterward, which, by the way, is basically the courtyard of a castle, Rach points out one graduate walking by, leans in and mutters, “You should totally go for him, except he’s the prince of Monaco.”

Oook, a bit out of my social league. Got it.

To be honest, everyone here is so posh, that it’s a little intimidating. I, on the other hand, look like a lost gypsy adorned with an uncontrollable mane of hair.

…or maybe that’s just what I hope I look like.

My favorite part of the whole shebang (by the way, just discovered that ‘shebang’ is an actual word and not just slang–auto correct didn’t yell at me like I was expecting. mind. blown.) was the assortment of outfits worn beneath the robes. Graduates were encouraged to wear the traditional clothing of their ancestors. This meant a ton of kilts adorned with pelts, knee-high socks, and a ceremonial dagger placed in the sock. I also spotted a kimono, a sari and other less recognizable cultural garb.

The following day we tried to brave the rain in Edinburgh, but unfortunately the weather was so dreary, that I could barely make out the giant castle in all of the fog (any hint of a tan that I had before leaving has undoubtedly disappeared since I’ve been here). We defaulted to the popular rainy day activity of shopping, and somehow I ended up with two new pairs of shoes. Oops.

We’re waiting out the rain, and then piling back in the car made for miniature people, to make our way back to England in the next day or so.

Currently, I’m plotting the rest of my trip. I’ve been stalking ticket prices and making several loose plans, and only getting more excited. The only certain country is Spain, but I’m making it my last stop, because I’m pretty sure that once I get there I’m not going to want to leave.

Time to start brushing up on my Spanish. Como se dice…Fuck.

Excuse my French…er, Spanish?

A few fun facts about St. Andrews to leave you with, since it has been a truly enchanting place to see (I still can’t believe that Rach actually went to school here for four years-unreal):

  • It boasts Scotland’s first university, at some 600 years old
  • Kate Middleton and Prince William hail it as their alma mater
  • It’s home to one hell of a golf course (not that I would know, as I’m fairly ignorant to the golf world, but I’ve been told)
  • For any runner nerds reading, the beach in the opening scene of Chariots of Fire is actually the beach of St. Andrews. Be jealous.
(A small compilation of pictures from Scotland–the bottom shot is just from the car on the ride up here!)


Author: Alia Teixido Gray

I like reading, writing, running, and drinking coffee. Lots of it.

4 thoughts on “Graduation Shmaduation

  1. This one was hilarious, I definitely lol’ed a couple times. And the Scotts send their graduates into the world with a dagger in the boot? That’s preparation.

  2. It sounds/looks beyond cool! As for your your “uncontrollable mane of hair,” that’s just your strong Scottish heritage showing. (they should be jealous). And you can do better than the prince of Monaco! Pictures are great! Hope you get a chance to see more ancient castles. As for the costumes, just let someone try and have a dagger in their sock here! Talk about differences!

  3. I love you!

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