Encounters with a Fat Chemist: Teaching at a University in Northern Cyprus Paperback – 24 May 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
He is teaching IT studies in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus where the local language is Turkish Cypriot and where the students are either Cypriot, Turkish or from other middle eastern countries. This makes his life very difficult because the students do not speak English, although they try, but it is no surprise that he makes no attempts to learn anything of the languages that his students do speak. English is the most widely spoken language in the world and, therefore, it is all he will speak.
He talks at length of the bribery and possibly fraudulent ways of the administration, the academic staff and of the students. He is badly treated and frustrated and sometimes cheated, by everyone he comes into contact with whether it is his section head (the fat chemist of the title), a shopkeeper or his landlady, and with his attitude to everything, I am not surprised.Read more ›
The book describes what life is like in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, warts and all. From the venous Landlords of two out of three rented properties, to the nepotism and cronyism of the University, to the inevitable networking abilities of those he meets and who can assist in the daily petty struggles of life in the Northern part of this divided Island. While it does have over 300 days of sunshine each year, each day is an endurance test. A chaotic University system catering for Turks, Cypriots, Azerbyjanis, and dozens of other nationalities has weak controls on English standards both written and spoken. There is an expectation by the students that they will be awarded the coveted Degrees, for which they have paid tuition fees in hard currency, Euros.
Competing currencies complicate matters, especially when health issues bedog the author. There is no health insurance available to a Professor at this University. Travelling in and out of the North, the chaos and confusion of Ercan and Istanbul airports, and the massive bureaucracy of TRNC is all so calmly described. A wonderful book.
For someone who goes to great pains to persuade you of his intelligence and worldliness, he behaved in an unbelievably naive manner. To spend no time at all in a country before upping sticks and taking a job there, seems reckless at the very least. To then expect everything to be just like the UK with a bit of sun is laughable. At best this is a misguided vanity project, at worst an apoplectic rant that brings nothing to the reader.
The writing style does not make this a pleasant or comfortable read either. Why use 5 words when you can use 25, and is often the case words which are either archaic or pretentious ie. connexion as opposed to connection.
I found the belittling way of snidley mocking the spoken English of the native Turks quite offensive and I have a feeling that the departure of the author was no great loss to the Cypriot community!