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Graduation in a Pandemic...

It's a strange world out there at the moment! We're pretty lucky here in New Zealand and have opened up to more or less 'normal' life. However for those of us who aren't citizens or residents it's a strange time to be here. We're safe, but if we leave to see overseas family we can't come back as borders are only open to returning Kiwis.

My parents had planned to be here for my PhD Graduation, booked in for the 12th June, but this was cancelled along with all other gatherings. I was to graduate in abstentia, and my hard-won certificate was to be posted, once New Zealand's lock-down rules had been lifted to Level 2. I was gutted.

I received word that my degree had been conferred by email. I was finally Dr Helen! We took pictures in our living room, with the dog refusing to wear a little pet mortarboard, with some bubbles for a celebration, but it wasn't the same. There was even an article written about me, that turned up in local newspapers here in New Zealand and home in Mid Wales.

In the end, New Zealand was allowing gatherings by the 12th, but the continuation of border controls means that I won't be able to see my family for a good while yet, residency applications are slow, and as a work visa holder I simply won't be allowed back in if I leave.

I'm looking forward to walking the stage when a graduation ceremony does happen - I'm told December - but I doubt my parents will be allowed into the country by then. They're planning a future trip as soon as things settle down a bit, and will be watching the livestream whatever time of day or night it turns out to be!

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