Unusual Behavior
Alina Giniyatullina, 16, Ufa



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My father works as a biologist in the Academy of Sciences. He told me this story about a postgraduate.

“This young man, Igor, was clever but everyone thought he was strange. Maybe it was so because he was so irritable and also he suffered from hypochondria.”

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“Father, what is that?” I asked.

“Hypochondria is a kind of sickness that causes a person to think he is ill. Besides that, he did have a nightmarish situation at home and he saw everything as a drama. You may wonder why he was able to continue in the university. He was a genius. He was talented. If this boy read a text, he could retell what he had read word by word.”

“How did he do in his studies?” I asked.

“He ignored getting ready for exams. But he could pass his exams perfectly. When he defended his dissertation, nobody believed he could do it. At the defense the doctors and candidates of biology science didn’t take him seriously. They asked him many questions. They were shocked that he answered them all brilliantly! On the contrary, he showed that he knew more than they did.”

I said, “That's amazing that so many people could be wrong about him.”

My father concluded: “We shouldn’t judge people by their behavior or appearance if we don’t know them well. Sometimes we are mistaken about them.”


I. Understanding the Story
What is the father's conclusion?

II. Vocabulary
Choose the best word to complete the sentence.
hypochondria    postgraduate    nightmare    irritable    behavior
1. The man suffered from ________________________ .
2. His __________________ was highly unusual.
3. His situation was so extreme that his life was like a _________________ .
4. The young man was often unpleasant and __________________ .
5. He was a university _____________________ and wrote a dissertation.

III. Now you Talk
1. Describe a hypochondriac's day.
2. Tell about a time when someone showed s/he was not as she appeared.
3. How would you know if someone is a genius?

IV. Now you Write
1. A summary of this story.
2. Write about how you would help a friend with hypochondria.
3. Write a description of this postgraduate. You can add details.

V. Role Play
1. Father and the writer: They discuss different sicknesses.
2. Father and a doctor: They discuss this young postgraduate.
3. The writer and her friend: They talk about an irritable person they know.
4. Postgraduate at dissertation defense: Two doctors try to confuse him.
5. Postgraduate and father: After the defense, they talk about his success.