Celebrating Milestones During The Pandemic – how I celebrated my graduation

Expat Life

June 13, 2020

I have an older sister, and after watching her graduation ceremony last year and experiencing all the events that go along with it I was really looking forward to mine. I had already planned out what dress I would wear and I told myself that I would practice walking in heels every day so I didn’t mess up my walk across the stage, but then, the pandemic happened and our school got cancelled for the rest of the year.

After being in a funk for a few days and crying a bit (like most other seniors) I decided that I could still make graduation fun! Our lockdown restrictions were lifted a few weeks ago and we’re allowed to have small gatherings here in Dubai, so I planned something special with my friends.

My school also made sure that graduation was really special for us! We had a drive-thru parade, our families decorated our houses, teachers delivered our diplomas, and the coolest thing – they got Will Smith to speak at our virtual graduation ceremony! CRAZY

In this post I’m going to take you through what I did to celebrate this milestone in the midst of a pandemic!

Photo Tour

Normally, before or after the graduation ceremony we would have gathered to take cap and gown photos. Obviously, with a virtual ceremony that didn’t happen this year! Instead, I thought that it might be nice to change up the photos and visit some iconic places in Dubai. In terms of architecture and famous buildings, Dubai is one of the coolest cities to live in. My friends and I grabbed our caps, gowns, and masks and we visited the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, the beach, and our school (who had put up graduation signs outside) and we took some super cool photos. I even made a little illustrated map to guide us through the photos stops. It just goes to show, that we didn’t get to take traditional photos, but we made the most of the situation. In fact, in the future when I’ll look back on these photos I’ll remember how fun it was to go around Dubai taking them.

Photos in front of the Burj Al Arab

Graduation Dinner

At our school, it’s tradition for all the graduates and their families to attend a graduation dinner hosted by our school after the ceremony. Since no big gatherings are allowed at the moment, that didn’t happen this year. However, small gatherings are allowed, so I decided to host a ‘graduation eve’ dinner for my friends. Just as the traditional graduation dinner would have been extravagantly decorated, I decorated our table with lots of fairy lights, garlands, flowers, candles, graduation cap shaped confetti, and I even made little origami graduation hats with tassels that went along with the person’s new school colors! I also printed out baby photos of each of us to add a sentimental touch. I made a graduation playlist that we vibed to while eating homemade pizza (shoutout to my mum for making that!) and lots of cake and dessert. It was such a perfect night, and definitely something I’ll remember for a long time!

I mean… look at this spread!
The origami graduation caps I made!
Blue and grey for Georgetown!

Gift Exchange!

I think most people give their friends gifts at graduation! My friends and I decided to do something a little different for a gift exchange. We did a ‘secret Santa’ style gift exchange where we each had to buy a gift for someone. We also did something else where each person had to buy/craft/make seven (there were seven of us) identical small gifts that would be useful at college. We each got a box with our name on it and the idea was at the end of the exchange, we would each have an identical box filled with seven college essentials. I gave everyone reusable coffee cups, some of my friends gave out personalized notebooks, fairy lights, dorm room decorations, and toiletries. And of course, we all exchanged lots of graduation cards that might of made me tear up a little… I thought that this gift exchange idea was so fun because when I go to college I’ll bring those 7 things with me and I’ll remember the person who gave it to me every time I use it!

Our ‘college essential’ boxes

Group Awards/Superlatives

This is just something we came up with and it was really fun! We got little plastic trophies and we gave each person a superlative and lots of ‘most likely to…’ titles – kind of like superlatives in a yearbook. My friend made up the awards for us, and they were really funny to go through and laugh about. Definitely a way to commemorate all those weird talents, funny moments, and inside jokes at the end of high school. Even if you don’t go all out and buy a plastic trophy, this activity is still really fun to do!

That’s how I ended up celebrating my high school graduation in the middle of a pandemic! It definitely wasn’t the celebration that I expected, but it was very memorable and I ended up really enjoying it. If I’m honest, it was probably more meaningful than a real graduation would have been. Let me know in the comments how you celebrated milestones during the pandemic!

See you next week,

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