NICOSIA, July 7 (Xinhua) — At an age when other people are thinking of their pension, Despina Tsikouri, 82, is as excited as an 18-year-old, as her dream of 60 years has finally come true.
She is now looking forward to September when she will be enrolled in the State University of Cyprus to join the Classical Studies and Philosophy Department as a student.
“It has been my dream to study further since I left high school more than 60 years ago. But when I mentioned that to my father he looked the other way and went to the coffee shop,” Despina told local newspapers which published her story on Sunday.
She graduated from high school in Limassol on the southern coast with 18.18 marks out of 20 in 1956, when Cyprus was still a British colony and there were no universities on the eastern Mediterranean island.
“We were a very poor family and going abroad was out of the question. The day after I graduated from high school my father bought me three goats to look after so we could have something to eat,” she said.
At that time, priority for schooling went to the male members of the family.
“One of my brothers became a doctor and another one became a teacher. But my older sister Panayiota left elementary school at 10 and was given goats to look after,” Despina said at her house in Kato Polemidia, which used to be a poor village but has now become a plush Limassol suburb.
She said she likes to study and attended afternoon classes offered by the Ministry of Education for grown-ups.
“I did French, Italian, philosophy, first aid, sewing, even flower decoration…And I have been reading books all the time,” Despina said.
After her husband became paralyzed and passed away 10 years ago, she decided to go to university. “My kids have all grown up and are living on their own, nor are my grandchildren nearby and I asked myself ‘what are you going to do? Watch TV?”
“So I told my children I would like to do the Pancyprian examinations,” she said.
Her daughter helped by finding a nearby teaching institute so she does not have to travel far. Her son who lives in the United States encouraged her, telling her that if she were there she could do a Master’s as well.
She is still excited about her success in the entrance exams, even more so because she had difficulty with her Latin. She said she did well with Classical Greek, Modern Greek and History, but with Latin it was a “torture”. However, she made it.
“I couldn’t sleep the last few nights before the results were out because I was so nervous… When I found out I got my place in the university I was crying like a crazy person,” Despina recalled.
“It is never too late…never,” Despina said. “There is no room for excuses when people want to pursue their dreams. Age and everything else is just an excuse,” she added.
She said that one of her classmates in the teaching institute could not make it to university for a few points. She told her not to despair and try again. That is also her advice to all other contestants who did not got a place in university.
Despina’s advice is: “It is OK, there is next year. They can do it…it is never too late.” Enditem