A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Such a year was that! “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” as the famous book of The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens starts. However, as the class of 2019/2020 of the Advanced LL.M. in Law and Digital Technologies, we all managed to graduate from our program. To celebrate this remarkable achievement, we had our graduation ceremony last week and in this blog, I would like to tell you about our graduation ceremony.
As for the rest of the year, our graduation ceremony was also quite unusual. We had to follow the rules by the government and university and had to sit with 1.5 meters between us which prevented our loved ones to attend the ceremony. Plus, due to travel restrictions, some of our classmates and professors also couldn’t make it to graduation. However, thanks to digital technologies, we were able to live-stream the ceremony and anyone who wanted to participate including friends and family members were able to attend the ceremony virtually.
The ceremony officially started with the opening speech by our Academic Director. While highlighting the importance of the digital technologies in our lives and pointing out some of the ongoing legal debates around them in which we mastered during this very exceptional year, she then left the floor for other professors to introduce their supervisees for the audience. Each professor individually announced their supervisees, had a small talk about their theses, personalities, and memories they have by finishing their speech with good wishes for their future endeavors. Due to restrictions, we didn’t receive our diplomas from the professors, instead, we found our diplomas on our designated seats at the very beginning of the ceremony and just posed for cameras after the supervisors’ speeches. After everyone has been announced as official graduates, we threw our graduation hats to the air, by watching the 1.5-meter distance, and then escorted to the Zweetkamertje to leave our signatures on these famous walls.
Translated `Sweatroom` into English, putting your signature on the walls of this room is one of the many traditions of Leiden University. Back in the days, the room was used as the heating room and later on as the waiting room for students awaiting the announcement of their graduation. Thus, the word sweat corresponds a lot, when it comes to the actual meaning of the Zweetkamertje. Although it is unknown who started this tradition by putting his/her signature on the walls, student of today are officially invited to put their signatures on the walls of Zweetkamertje upon their graduation ceremony alongside with the signatures of King Willem Alexander, Queen Beatrix, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill… and me! Joking aside, in fact, I forgot to put my signature on the walls while trying to taking some pictures in the very limited time I was assigned to be in the room. So, if any of the future historians will happen to look for my signature, I am afraid you should leave the effort!
In the end, graduations are filled with emotions, accomplishments, and success. Yet, also with a bit of anxiety for the future as we are now officially job-seekers. However, I believe we all have proven our capabilities and dedication by graduating in such an extraordinary year like this. My sincere congratulations to all graduates of #class2020 regardless of wherever they are in the whole world! Well-deserved guys, we did it!