Saturday, 18 July 2015

Durham Cathedral

A breathtaking first sight
What makes a building iconic? The first things that come to the mind of many when looking at Durham Cathedral are a long history, religion, and its association with a globally renowned film (i.e. Harry Potter). It ticks all three of these boxes neatly, so it’s no wonder that thousands come each year to visit this architectural spectacle. But behind all of these traits, there lies yet another reason, a more personal one to me, which reinforces its true glory.

Heading towards the cathedral
Our arrival
Durham Cathedral (Hogwarts) cloisters

That, my dear readers, is university.

If you ever come across a Durham student, I am sure that they will have no trouble in talking about our black Hogwarts styled gowns.  You’ll see these worn mainly during formal dining events. The magic in them fades away after a while (at least it did for me anyway). But there’s one moment in time that still shines brightly within my memory. Like most universities, us first years were officially welcomed by our institution’s chancellor (or principal) before we embarked on our higher education journey. However, I daresay that not many of you ever got attend such a ceremony dressed almost like the classmates of Harry Potter. It was difficult to contain my excitement whilst waiting in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral, especially after I realized they were the ones used in first film.

Hogwarts moment before matriculation in year 1
The gangling freshman
Exiting the ceremony
And with the sounds of applause signaling the end of the ceremony, my three-year adventure into academia officially began.

A photo from year 2
As a student of anthropology, the study of rites of passages was an inevitable topic (one of which I enjoyed immensely). We were taught that these could be separated into three phases. The first and third stages are both distinct, for they mark the entry into the ritual and exit out of rituals respectively. No doubt that the two are equally important. However, I would argue that the middle step, where one engages in a series of activities that eventually leads to a transformed self, is perhaps the most significant. My university journey echoed this strongly. Although I knew I was changing for the better, there were times when I wanted to step back and seek comfort from a nearby shelter (i.e. Durham Cathedral).

Durham Cathedral - graduation day
It’s undeniable that every story must come to an end. Even if we try to savor the last few pages of pleasure through delayed reading, we’ll eventually have to reach the finishing sentence. It’s a difficult moment, one of which was definitely applicable to my very last time at Durham Cathedral. Not only did it mark my last visit, it also signaled the end to my university journey. As I was called up on stage to officially confirm my graduation, I felt a mixture of happiness at my academic success (especially since my friends and family were there to celebrate it with me) and sadness at departing. It was truly a bittersweet sensation.

A different view of the cathedral (year 3)
The important white marquee (for grad merch + photos + food)

Letting go is never easy, but at times it’s for the better. Although my future lies unknown, I walk forward with confidence, determination, and excitement.

Thank you Durham for making me stronger and wiser. It’s been an absolute pleasure. 

Pathway into the unknown but bright


  1. I like your style, please keep writing!

    1. Thanks! I will - definitely. Glad you liked it :D