Thursday afternoon, I teach French in a school, in Cambridge, and I pass through Harvard University. This day, I hear some clamor: it’s Commencement Day (I’ve just learn this expression). I see a lot of students wearing a black or red gown. The spirit of the fashion reporter seizes me, and I ask them if I can take photos of them.
Kevin is freshly graduated, and the young lady on the right has just got her PhD in medical science. Bravo! They are wearing the official gown and hat, not very suiting, but well, that’s the dress code. Natural elegance, studied nonchalance, they look great.
Student clothes are imposed on the day, so there’s no risk of fashion mistakes (be careful of shoes anyway). Students really need to warn their families though: don’t overdress, you’ll probably look terrible and ruin the picture.
Strong case… The dad has kept his cap for the picture. And the umbrella-hat is more funfair style than Ivy League. About the orange dress, I know it’s very tempting to wear all your wedding clothes you can have once a year, but too much, it’s too much (trop, c’est trop! ).
This young lady dares wearing a feathers cape above her gown. Pretty risky, and kind of ugly. (NB: I’m sure there’s a meaning, but I haven’t find out)
Well, well, well, that’s not good. There’s only Grandma on the left who’s watching my camera. Everybody has to leave their glasses for the picture (specially the smoky glasses on the right)! And why the graduate girl has put these boat shoes?!
I ‘ve read that they are 3 types of gown, depending on your level. There was no ritual when I graduated in my “université”. I studied philosophy for 5 years, to know if I get my diploma, I checked on line. After that, I spent one year in a Business School, to study publishing management – there was though a ceremony in this case, but I’ve started working, and I didn’t want to leave from work for this event. So I don’t have any memory of a the end of my studies. I loved my years as a student, but I don’t fell as if I belong to any of the university I’ve been. I guess that it’s absolutely not the case for somebody who has studied in Harvard.
Right now, students are leaving town. There are dozen of universities and colleges in Greater Boston, which represent almost 250 000 students. The city gets empty, most of students come home. Some stay though, to study during summer, for a bonus term. Tons of ads in the subway, students sitting on the grass, happy to work all summer. Yeah !
Some news about Harvard :
- The official story of Commencement day, published in the Gazette de Harvard
- Les secrets d’Harvard, la première des universités (in French)
PS: We are just back for a great weekend in Montreal. Let me prepare a video about it… I’ll be back soon.