20 June 2003

Exams have been over for a week and a half, and life is good. Yesterday I played croquet and went to a barbecue. Today I had a two-hour lunch and played piano for a while. Tomorrow is the Harvard dinner, which involves a hundred-plus recent Harvard alumni descending on Cambridge, acting really pretentious, and getting horrendously drunk.

Yesterday morning I got up at 9 am to hear my exam results announced in the Senate House. It was a rather absurd ceremony. The Chairman of the Examiners stands up on the balcony between two "Proctors" in full academic regalia, while the students mill about below. The Chairman tips his hat to the proctor on his right, then the one on the left. He then announces, "These are the results of the Mathematical Tripos, Part II," and reads everyone's name and college. Part II (3rd year undergrads) are grouped according to rank: first "Wranglers," then "Senior Optimae," then "Junior Optimae," then a few stragglers who have "satisfied the examiners," whatever that means. The process is repeated for Part III (my course), except the grouping is not by rank but by "candidates for honours" (Cambridge undergrads) and "candidates not for honours" (the rest). After the lists are read, the Chairman takes a huge stack of papers with the results (i.e. the list of names and ranks) and throws them off the balcony to be snatched up by the eager kiddies below.

No comments: