Senior Year Diary #3: College, Kolderdag, & Graduations

<< A few of our awesome members have joined together to write about the ups and downs of finishing high school and embarking on the rest of their lives.. Make sure to catch up by reading The Intro; TBC's Class of 2014, and Part 2; Christmas & College Applications! >>

Tigi, Hungary - Graduation

Hi All!

It's Easter/spring holiday in Hungary, and I'm learning for my school leaving exams. This part of the year is really rough for the seniors as our last school term ends on the 30th of April, and school leaving exams start next week: Math, Literature, History, English and German – three of these are obligatory, and many of the students keep sitting exams on the next week as well, because if you want to study e.g. medicine, you have to take a biology matura and so on.

The graduation ceremony is one of the most important school festivals: the corridors and the classrooms are decorated with flowers (typically with lilac), and there are nice quotes written on the blackboards. The main part of the ceremony is when the seniors go around in the school with their bouquets and balloons while singing traditional songs like Gaudeamus igitur. In comparison with US seniors, Hungarians don't wear graduation a gown and cap, just a black suit and white blouse. My school tries to force us into wearing our school tie, but it's really ugly, so I think the management lost this battle. :-)

It's customary to give a serenade to our teachers – we choose the important and/or loved ones and visit them: after the singing they shall invite us in (or that's the tradition, I haven't participated any serenades yet). The tiny little problem is that serenades should be before the exams when we definitely don't have time, but every class managed it somehow, so I suppose we will solve it as well.

After the written exams there is a pause (a few weeks), when we can prepare for the spoken A levels, then (after another pause) we sit our spoken O levels (at the end of June), and that's it. :-)

So please think of me and the fellow Hungarian seniors at the beginning of May!

I wish you a successful school ending,

Envy, The Netherlands - Kolderdag

Hi guys!
While graduation and all its traditions seem very pleasant in Hungary, the Netherlands have their own ‘tradition’. It can be gross, humiliating and even a little violent. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to ‘Kolderdag’!

Traditionally, Kolderdag was the last day of school before the Central Examinations take place. On this day, the school’s seniors would prank the rest of the school. Well, maybe ‘prank’ is a big word. It usually came down to throwing flour, eggs or grasshoppers. Freshmen, juniors, not even teachers were safe. But then, maybe seven years ago, Kolderdag was ruined for my school: a couple of seniors flooded the school hall and Kolderdag was forbidden from that year on.

After Kolderdag, it’s over with the fun and games. On May 12th the finals start and it’ll take two whole weeks to try and pass all these. A whole month later, we’ll hear if we’ve passed all our exams. We’ll get our diploma’s in June. No gowns and caps here either, just jeans and blouses. And then we’re off into that big wide world, all going our own way.

Until the class of 2014 came along and decided to do something, something harmless for a change. Our plans are big in an innocent way. We are going to fill up the principal’s office with balloons (some of which are filled with confetti and glitter), duct-tape the doors of the toilets shut and the last one: block the teacher’s room with plastic cups filled with water. Oh, and we’ll probably make sure the coffee machine in the teacher’s room won’t be making coffee that day.

Youngjoo, USA - College

Life takes us on really crazy journeys, literally and figuratively. I never really thought that I would choose Smith College, a small liberal arts all-women college in a very small town so far away. In the beginning it almost felt that I was meant to go there. I visited and that feeling overcame me so strongly. I was choosing between some really large schools with a lot of prestige but in the end it came down to somewhere I could imagine myself learning, growing, and becoming a global leader. I love the idea of going to college for the sake of that education and not really skills to find a job (while those are also important). College is a time to learn more about who you are and what you want to do with your life.

Here are some things that I loved about Smith College!

1) The sense of community
That’s really important to me! Smith has a house system where young women of all lengths of life and grades live together. When I was on campus, everyone was so willing to help each other and wanted to see classmates succeed.  People are also open to talk about the pressing matters of the world with you. No one shies away from taboo topics and I was in such shock that I could openly discuss feminism and education and Ukraine with people and they would say something they believed in. There is no pretending at Smith. I saw a lot of upperclassmen who were just absolutely comfortable with themselves. I want to be like that too. I want to feel empowered in my own ability and feel that I have something unique to contribute to the world.

2) Engaging professors
The professors are AWESOME. They love what they teach and they’re so willing to discuss anything with you. These professors also have that goal of educating women to become leaders and change the world. Most of these professors were at SUPER prestigious schools and yet they choose to come to Smith. That’s a testament to the school. Since the school is pretty small, there are so many opportunities to connect and do research with professors and get to know them as people. I would consider that pretty important too.

3) Beautiful campus
Okay, this is not that serious of a point. I would never pick my future on the beauty of a campus. But, the campus was definitely a bonus. I’m in love with the lakeside view and the redbrick ivy dorms. So beautiful.

These are just a couple of the main factors of why Smith draws me so close. I haven’t absolutely committed yet but in my heart, there’s only one place for me. For all you guys who are choosing colleges/are going to choose colleges, I have only one piece of advice.

Go where you want to go. Go where your heart tells you to go. How long are you going to live life based on what other people say? I realize that I’m such a goody two shoes. Before fourth quarter, I skipped only one day of school and never took a sick day. I’ve never done anything risky and dangerous. I never had that anxious teenage phase of fighting all the time with my parents. I’ve listened so well to what they’ve told me for these past 17 years but how long am I going to be a replica of what they want?

I want to be at Smith so that I can have a community to learn effectively on how to become a person. I don’t have the skills of being independent yet. I don’t want to be thrown into the jungle without adequate resources. At least that’s my take on college.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences, Tigi, Envy, and Youngjoo!


  1. Really interesting posts, Envy, I will reconsider my problems after reading this... :-D

  2. Very interesting one!! Good one about graduation!! Planning for mine too and looking for best college to pursue my degree in gaming!!