Wilderness DiaryDiary of Wilderness Volunteers

Four countries in seven days

Last two weeks were vey busy for me, as I went to my graduation ceremony in Oxford, followed by a meeting in Eberswalde. Thus, before I started my trip, there was also a lot of work in the office in the preparation for the Youth Green Conference, Insect Respect and Respect Nature projects next week.

So last Tuesday I took the train back to Ljubljana in order to catch a flight to Oxford on the following day. With my family we still had a lot to pack, which was hindered by my friend visiting to watch our dog. As a result (not very unexpected), quite a few of my things stayed in Ljubljana, but never mind, socks can also be bought in the UK!

A reunion in Oxford

The few days I spent in England were fantastic. I spent them seeing my old friends in Oxford, and also made a trip to London to meet with one of my ex-flatmates. It was great catching up with all of them and it felt as if nothing had changed, as if I was still a student there. Immediatelly when coming to Oxford old memories came alive, both good and bad – great nights with my friends, interesting people everywhere, being annoyed at too many tourists in the city centre preventing you to walk fast, horrible British bread (no offence to anyone, but I needed about 6 months to discover which types of bread were edible in Tesco)… a million memories.

Friday the 27th was the big day – my graduation. My family and I got up early to dress up appropriately for the ceremony. By 9 am we were in my college where a crowd of people dressed in black and white like penguins awaited us. We were all wearing University’s Academic Dress, called Sub Fusc, and a massive graduation gown on top of it. Soon we, the graduands, headed towards the Sheldonian theatre, one of University’s oldest buildings in the city centre, where the ceremony is always held. We left our hoods in a room next to it (the room was the hospital from the Harry Potter films), as you are only allowed to put them on once you actually graduate (apparently we had not yet graduated despite having received our final results months ago). When we entered the theatre, it was already filled with all the parents, who happily waved at us as if we were 7 years old.

Graduation Ceremony

After sitting down in the theatre the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and two Proctors entered (don’t ask me what these titles mean as to be honest, I have no clue). Anyhow, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor had a nice speech about the ceremony and the occasion, congratulating us and our families for this achievement. Then, the actual ceremony began, consisting of long speeches in Latin. What was fun about it was that the latin was sometimes literally made up from English words – I don’t think Romans knew of Scientie computatoris (computer science) or that they could study business administration. Addionally, we weren’t really told in advance how the ceremony would look like, so you could see the confused faces of the PhD students who graduated first about what was going on and what they should do. Luckily, I was in the last group to graduate, so when my time arrived, it was all clear to me. When we heard our names and college called (mine was “Collegium Santa Hildae”), we stepped in front of the proctors and the pro-vice-chancellor in rows of four, bowed to each of them. Then there was some more latin to which we had to reply “Do fidem” – apparently it’s an oath to abide University’s statutes. Then we walked out back to the Harry Potter Hospital room to get our hoods that we could finally put on. A remark on the hoods – they are awful. It’s impossible to figure out how to wear them properly and they are always sliding to different sides. Really not my favourite piece of clothing.

Then, we walked back to the theatre, now officially graduated. We again went to the proctors in rows of four and bowed to them, leaving the theatre. Then we could finally put our mortar boards on – again a piece of clothing that doesn’t suit me at all, but what can I do? To conclude the ceremony with even more bowing all the graduants formed a corridor through which the proctors and pro-vice-chancellor exited the theatre while we were bowing at them, our hats off our heads again. So, to summarise, the graduation ceremony at Oxford consists of a lot of Latin and a lot of bowing.

A trip to Eberswalde

After the ceremony followed another two nice days in the UK, seeing some more friends and visiting some relatives. On Sunday, I sat on the plane to Eberswalde in Germany.

I went to Eberswalde for a meeting on MARISCO – Adaptive management of risk and vulnerability at conservation sites. MARISCO is basically an approach developed at HNE Eberswalde on how to involve various stakeholders in a workshop that aims to develop the best possible strategies for the conservation of a certain ecosystem and the ecosystem services it is providing. So on Monday and Tuesday I had a meeting with MARISCO experts about their two projects, developing MARISCO 2.0 and a software to support it.

I stayed with Rebecca, the former ESC volunteer, who is currently working on BEECH POWER. It was great seeing her again and spending some time with her, and she also showed me around Eberswalde a bit. We went for a nice walk from the University campus back home through the forest and passing the zoo with some sad wolves howling.

Traveling back to Tamsweg

After the meeting on Tuesday I hurried to catch the train to Berlin. I had a night bus to catch back to Salzburg, but I also still had about an hour to explore Berlin. I’ve been to Berlin once before so I revisited some of the well-known places that I’ve seen before. I went to the Brandenburg gate and the parliament. Next to it there was an interesting projection of a short flim on the history of the parliament building, which I stopped to watch. Afterwards, it was already time to head for the bus.

The bus was almost full and I’m not very good at sleeping on buses, so it was not the most restful night ever, to say the least. And when I arrived to Salzburg I still had to travel all across the city to the main railway station to finish my journey with another three hours on trains and buses. I arrived to Tamsweg around 1 pm, so tired that I forgot to take my suicase off the bus! I was vey lucky, as the bus coincidentally passed me 5 minutes later and stopped after I waved to the driver. Pure luck! I spent the rest of the day resting, so that I would not do anything else as stupid as the suitcase issue was.

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