I was one of those kids who took a gap year after high school and never quite got to college. I was earning (relatively) big money working full time while my friends were studying hard and living hand to mouth. At the time becoming a university student made no sense.
Fast forward a couple years and I realised I really wanted one of those lovely framed certificates to hang in my parents’ living room. At 21 I started taking university classes part time and have continued to do so for the past ten years.
I have submitted assignments from hotel rooms in Las Vegas, completed online quizzes from hostel kitchens in Colombia and read screeds of articles and books on flights for the past decade.
In 2004 battling a hangover one can only get in Thailand, I followed a dodgy looking man down numerous alleyways off Bangkok’s Khao Sarn Road to purchase a fake degree certificate from a reputable New Zealand university. It cost me 2000 baht ($72NZD). But I knew I had to complete the real one for my own sense of achievement.
With only seven weeks before we depart for Mexico I decided not to attend my official graduation ceremony due to the cost of flying to another city. I chose to graduate by post and yesterday I opened my front door and found the Courier’s call card stating I could pick up my scroll at the local pharmacy.
As I signed for this strange round tube in the pharmacy alongside recovering heroin addicts receiving their daily methadone dose I pondered how my two graduations were not so different after all. Only this time I wasn’t committing fraud.
Disclaimer: I never intended to use my fake degree; I purchased it purely for entertainment value. I was 22 and my friends and I thought it was funny.