With convocation coming up I wanted to talk about some of the things that graduates going to Athabasca should do, some things to avoid, and some of the things I wish I had done.
I went to Athabasca a day early; I wanted to have some time to explore the town and the campus before the craze of convocation took over. I was surprised to find I was one of the few that did this, most arrived the night before and left the day of. But taking the time to explore campus, take in the library, and see the offices of the people I talked to on the phone numerous times was a great experience. It was special to be taking it all in just before convocation, there was excitement and a buzz in the air, and no one found it strange as we wandered the stacks, admired the greenspace, read the tree plaques, it was all expected during the time of year. I would absolutely recommend doing this, it is a great way to ease into it and prolong the feeling of celebration.
Something to avoid is booking a room at the New Western. We booked in here, I had checked reviews, pictures, etc and everything looked good,until we got there. It was bad. The only good part was when we walked out of there. The hallways were old, dark, and smelled; the lights flickered and buzzed—it was straight out of a horror movie. We unlocked the door and walked into a room that had not been thoroughly cleaned, with dust caked on the carpet behind the door and the roof had water damage and looked like it was about to fall in. The beds were old, uncomfortable, and the crème du la crème—bugs. I threw back the sheets ready to relax for the night, willing for that night at least to overlook the obvious pitfalls of the room, and there, between the sheets, was a black bug. We threw our belongings back into our bags, and I got on the phone to call other hotels while my husband went to my mom’s room and said, “We’re leaving.”
We lucked out. I spoke to a very kind and empathetic lady from the Days Inn who had one room that would suit us. We rushed over and she took us up to the room before we signed off on it, I wanted to look first: it was a great room. We were sharing one suite between the three of us. But there was a separate bedroom and a pull-out couch. And, best of all, spotless. I felt like I could take my shoes off.
I asked for recommendations for dinner from the front desk staff (no longer trusting online reviews) and we went out the next day to the 49th Street Grill, this is a must stop, we ate here (aside from breakfast,) exclusively. It was amazing food and I highly recommend it.
There are some things I wish I had done. Before convocation, I was a bundle of nerves. Not sure where I was going to be going, worried I would trip and face-plant on stage. Excited to be there and a bit in disbelief I had done it. I had completed my B.A. I picked up memorabilia before the ceremony, I got a grad ring, a frame for my parchment, and spoke to AUSU staff. I did the things I didn’t want to forget to do. I put on my gown and waited for everything to start. I got professional pictures. I went through grad, and then class pictures after we were shuffled over to where we return the dummy diploma holder, and then there was gown return. I never stopped after to take some pictures with my husband or my mom who had joined me on the trip. This is my biggest regret. I wish I had taken more time, left the gown on, and taken those pictures.
It will all be over quick, so at the end of the ceremony, after the class picture, you don’t need to return the gown immediately. Take the time and celebrate it a little longer and get those pictures.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/