Anthony Annan: How I won a scholarship to the UK
The course is very good, it’s a big step for me!
When Anthony Annan entered Ghana's The Challenge reality TV show, he was determined to give it everything he had. The prize was a full scholarship for a Masters degree in the UK provided by the University of Northumbria. Today, Anthony is a proud scholar, studying for an MSc Business with Financial Management. He talks to us about the challenges of his course, adapting to a new culture and his dreams for the future...
Tell me about the competition – what made you want to do it?
'I was already aware of The Challenge through a friend, who got to the final for the fourth season. What made me want to take part in this particular edition was seeing him in that final. Before I joined, I knew what was at stake but my friend really encouraged me and gave me the motivation to give it a try. At the time I was working in a pensions trust in Ghana so I made sure that my annual leave coincided with the time the competition was going to be run so that I could give it 100 per cent of my attention.'
Did you think you would win? What do you think made you stand out?
'I think my experience was invaluable. Having worked for a while really helped as I knew what was expected and how to go about it. For example, I had a very good marketing strategy that paid off in the long run.
'The Challenge requires you to work as part of the team. If the group wins, all the members get to stay in the competition but if the group goes out nobody does, so it’s all about the effort you contribute to the group. In other words, it’s not about being a task leader or a group leader.
'Even if we lost the task, I could see that all members in the group accepted that I had put in a lot of effort and did things that others were not willing to do.
'So when it came to the selection process, the task leader mentioned me – he actually picked me ahead of himself and I was able to stay in the competition.
'Showing that you work the hardest and that you’re giving it your all definitely pays off.'
How were your first couple of days in the UK?
'I arrived on a Friday here in Newcastle and had a weekend to explore the city before lectures started on Monday. I was expecting it to be cold, but it was even colder than I expected! I had to get an additional heater to keep me warm.'
What did you find funny or different?
'The food – when I go to the school cafe, I’m not used to most of the food there! I am always asking the staff that work there the same questions: "What is this?" "What is that?" I always feel they must be tired of me coming over to them and inspecting the food, but it’s all quite different from Ghana and I want to find something that I can eat!'
Are you finding the course challenging?
'The course is really very good. It’s a big step for me.
'In Ghana, whatever your lecturer gave you in class was what you were expected to reproduce. At my school, we also suffered from a lack of books and online resources.
'In the UK, you are exposed to a whole lot of resources. Everything you need is a click away on your computer.
'Here I am expected to take initiative. I play a major part in my own studies.
'For example, a lecturer will recommend books to read for your lecture and I make sure that I read all the stuff before I get into the class – I want to make the most of each session.
'I’m expected quote references when I write here too, to know my sources well and to be able to explain them; that’s something we don’t really do in Ghana.
'Now, I’m always on the lookout for new information and I read different websites – you cannot cite a reference you haven’t read or something you didn’t have a look at!
'The lecturers here are closer to their students and they always encourage you. If you don’t understand they tell you to speak up and you can interrupt them in the middle of the lecture. They will also always reply to e-mails and it’s easy to set up a meeting with them to discuss how the course is going.'
What do you miss the most from Ghana and what do you enjoy doing here?
'I miss my family, even though I have some family here. I miss some friends.
'In my accommodation, being alone is tough sometimes but I’ve made some good friends. I love soccer so on most weekends I find myself in one or two cafes watching soccer with people.
'I’ve also been to the seaside, the quayside… Newcastle has some truly beautiful scenery.
'I also like hanging out at the student hub and playing pool or just having a chat with friends.'
What is your dream in life and what would you most like to achieve?
'First off, I would like to pursue a PhD. When I completed my undergraduate studies I was a teaching assistant and I really enjoyed the experience. I found there was a lot more freedom in teaching than in working full time. You get three months off, long vacations to travel and you get to enjoy some of your personal time. That kind of career would suit me in the short to medium term.
'I am also looking at starting my own business and getting stuck into entrepreneurship. My business would focus on gathering data. When I came here I saw how easy it was to access data, but in Ghana you can’t find it easily. Here I have had access to great sources like the Bloomberg terminal with data from companies across the world. You need data to be able to do research and I would like to start a business helping people to get access to data – for a fee of course!'
What is your best memory of the UK so far – the one you will tell your grandchildren about?
'My best moment was when I went to the Lake District – it was beautiful and it took my breath away. I’m still hoping for more experiences but for now that was the best!'