The European Union Scholarship Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community

I am a computer engineer who has been working as a teacher of ICT and computer studies for about 10 years, and doing related activities like writing and editing textbooks, preparing and proofreading questions for an examination board, preparing and publishing free education videos on YouTube, and giving courses about how to use technology in the classroom. As technology changes so fast, if you want to “stay in good shape” in this field, you need to update and improve your skills regularly. Reading books and technical periodicals, and watching lessons published at different websites, are good methods but not always sufficient.   

To become more confident especially in practical issues of computer networks and security I decided to take some CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco and EC-Council courses. I knew that the European Union is giving scholarships to Turkish-Cypriots in order to study in Europe. After an extensive research about where to study these courses, I chose QA from the United Kingdom, and applied for the scholarship. I feel privileged and honoured for being granted the scholarship by the European Union because, as far as I can see, they do select only eligible people, as a result of written exams and professional interviews. This scholarship not only covered part of the fees and other expenses, but also made it easier to get a leave of absence from my work for one academic term.

QA is one of the best training centres in the world, in which each of the courses are given by certified experts of the corresponding fields. Because the courses were very intensive and accelerated, in five months I learned so much which would normally be learned in about five years! Well, to be honest, I still need time to absorb and digest all these. I think what I gained during this training is far more than just the many new skills and the several achievement certificates that I have obtained: Throughout the training period I got used to working hard for long hours every day, so I now feel myself much stronger. On the other hand, having made friends with and seen respect from impressive trainers and other delegates most of whom are successful people at well-known companies in the UK enlarged my professional network and improved my self-confidence. In addition to these, some of the trainers impressed me so much and improved my vision about possibilities in life.

Of course, even though not as much as expected, I also found some free time to enjoy Europe. Living in a big cosmopolitan city as London gives you chance to attend many different types of events and meet much more people than possible at a small island like Cyprus. I went to concerts, football matches, ice-skating, etc. I met people from different countries. I made new friends from Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, France, Portugal, Israel, China, etc. I even went to a Czechoslovak restaurant and tried Czech food and Slovak drinks with my new Slovak friends. :-) I also went to two concert halls where I listened to live Greek, Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Japanese and Senegalese music, which is really an amazing experience. I also visited old friends of mine in Manchester one weekend and in addition to several other things, I found the chance to take this photo with Alan Turing - Father of Computer Science.

Living abroad for five months, especially in such a developed and well-organised city as London, was a great experience for me indeed. I really feel so lucky that I found this chance. I believe that I have improved myself not only in my field but also in many other issues including my English proficiency, communication and problem solving skills and organised working. This was certainly a great experience and a milestone in my life.

I do appreciate the support of the European Union and the British Council to the Turkish Cypriot community and I certainly recommend everybody to have a similar experience in any of the European countries.

Ahmet Akarsu

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