Sunday, March 15, 2009

My first French graduation ceremony

Last Friday I attended my first French graduation / commencement ceremony (remise des diplômes). Well, I didn't know it existed until I received an invitation card. According to hubby, he has never attended any school ceremony that marks the end of a class. So, graduation ceremonies from kindergarten, primary school, secondary and higher education might mean nothing to the majority of French.

As expected, no graduation cap and gown, no graduation hall so the ceremony was held somewhere far from the campus. Very unexpectedly is that only a few students were called up on stage to receive their diploma (real one instead of a cover) . The majority of the students have to collect it outside the ceremony hall.

The ceremony was supposed to start at 6pm but it only started around 7pm. If I knew this I won't had to leave work at 4pm to make sure I could arrive on time.

I know the ceremony would be very different but didn't know it could be so different from the one I know. No students queuing up to go on stage, instead they were called up on stage with their professor. Turned out the ceremony was about introducing all the master degrees and they invited some students to talk about their experience. At this point I became panicked as in our program only 4 students turned up and I was the only international student.

Eventually for our program only the program professor and one out of 4 of us were called on stage. This kind of professor advertising about the program and student sharing about their feeling speech lasted for two hours. Personally I believe the advertising got the wrong audiences. People who present were mostly students who just finished their studies or their family members or the University employees. Shouldn't they do the advertising to students who are still in their 4th year and haven't decided their major on the 5th year?

We finally got our diploma outside the hall.

The ceremony was followed by a cocktail party, a very common practice for the French. They invited some artists to entertain the guests.

A jazz band for the night.

After several glass of cocktail hubby was not sure if he could still drive. He tried the alcohol test and he failed. So, I have to drive him home instead.

The whole ceremony was an eye opening for me. Since it was only the second year they organize this event there are still room to improve. If I knew the whole ceremony is about advertising the master courses I wouldn't have come. But on the other hand I was glad to see the other classmates and the professor again. As for hubby, he was the real "victim" of the night as the only purpose he came was to see me getting my diploma on the stage and feel proud for me. Well, now we know what a French graduation ceremony looks like.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about university, but I think that in most engineer schools (like ESIEA), students have their diploma handed on stage under the applause of the assistance.
    As for graduation ceremonies, they indeed only happen for high (bac+5) degrees. I have never heard of a graduation ceremony for school or high-school.