Early academic path: From England to Australia to Greece - Yanis Varoufakis
Between 1982 and 1988 I taught at the University of Essex, the University of East Anglia and the University of Cambridge. My break from Britain occurred in 1987 on the night of Mrs Thatcher’s third election victory. It was too much to bear. Soon I started planning my escape, which took a little more than a year to organise. The question was: Where do I escape to? Continental Europe was closed to non-native academics, at that time, and Greece awaited with open arms – to enlist me into its conscript army. No, thanks, I thought to myself. Even Thatcherism is preferable. My break came shortly after when, out of the blue, I was invited to take up a lectureship at the University of Sydney. And so the die was cast. From 1988 to 2000 I lived and worked in Sydney, with short stints at the University of Glasgow (and an even shorter one at the Université Catholique de Louvain). In 2000 a combination of nostalgia and abhorrence of the conservative turn of the land Down Under (under the government of that awful little man, John Howard) led me to return to Greece. So I ended up teaching political economics at the University of Athens. Besides surviving life in a country that is very tough on those who are not used to working in an institutional setting where everything needs to be created from scratch, I feel a sense of accomplishment from having set up an innovative, progressive, pluralist, international Doctoral Program in Economics, also known as UADPhilEcon (one that, tragically, did not survive Greece’s collapsed after 2010). For whatever awful stories one tells about Greek universities (most of which, by the way, are accurate) one fact remains: The better students in Greece, and the better amongst of my colleagues, were intellectually and ethically head-and-shoulders above the majority of the better students, and colleagues, elsewhere. They provided all the compensation I needed in order never to regret my return to Greece back in 2000 (even the three months I spent in the Greek army!).
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