Last Wednesday my academic journey came to an end.
Go up on stage. Salve. The conferrer crowns me with a laurel wreath. Accipe coronam. He guides me over to the other side of Parnassus. Vale. Pick up the diploma (they literally put it right into your hands!) and bow to the rector magnificus. Go sit back down.
It may not sound like a lot, but the conferment ceremony is probably the stateliest occasion in the life and traditions of the university. Large parts of the ceremony were held in Latin, reflecting the medieval traditions of the university. The conferrer crowned me with a laurel wreath with leaves from Carl von Linné’s laurel trees. Guiding over the Parnassus was, symbolically, the one final time when I was guided in academia. From now on, I shall guide. Presumably wearing my hat, representing the academic freedom, power, and privileges of the philosophiae doctor. And the doctoral ring of course, the symbol of fidelity to truth and science.
I received my diploma and accepted my duty to science by bowing to His Magnificence Professor Anders Hagfeldt, the vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, accompanied by Her Eminence Dr Antje Jackelén, the Archbishop of Uppsala; Mr Göran Enander, the governor of Uppsala County; and Docent Eva Edwardsson, the chair of the Uppsala City Council, as well as representatives of the nine faculties of the university, the student unions, and the thirteen student nations.
I was nothing short of blessed to have my family and friends join me on this extraordinary, emotional, and memorable day. And to top it off, the representatives of my own nation, Västgöta nation, presented me with flowers in a very moving and surprising gesture.
A ceremony like that demands some preparations. The general rehearsal, code-named ‘wreath-binding party’, took place on the evening before the big day. Trying on the laurel wreaths sure was a big part of it!
The Jämtland Field Artillery honoured us with cannon salutes from Uppsala Castle in the morning and from the University Hall throughout the day, and Uppsala Cathedral by ringing their bells, including Storan – the largest bell in Scandinavia, only rung on special occasions.
What would be an academic ceremony without a proper banquet to follow it? Welcomed personally by the vice-chancellor, we celebrated at the State Hall of Uppsala Castle.