Akua from Ghana, Commonwealth Scholar 2013-14

MA International Relations and Politics

Hello Akua! Can you start by telling me what were you doing before you came to Keele?

“Before I came to Keele I was working in the insurance industry back home…Then I decided that it was time to move on to something else that I’d always wanted to do, so I thought of Graduate School, and here I am today!”

Why did you choose to study at Keele university?

“When I was thinking or considering grad school, what I was really looking at was the quality of education and the content of the programme or course that I wanted to do... I was particularly interested in Keele because of the MA programme – what really struck me about the MA International Relations was that they had this pathway there that I always wanted, or dreamt of: a Diplomatic Studies pathway… this was sort of tailored to exactly what I needed so I thought yes I have to go for Keele.”

Now you’re here, what is it that you like best about the university?

“What I love most about Keele is the library working hours, it’s like 24/7, it’s amazing. And also I like the fact that you can get everything in one place, you don’t have to move several miles away before you get hold of something, it’s sort of easy to move around. And I also like the quality of teaching, and the fact that you can go talk to a professor or lecturer anytime, provided that you email him about it, and the support is good. Everything you need, you have people who are always willing to help you, and I think it’s very good.”

What have been the main challenges during your time here?

“My main challenges have been with coursework – because for where I’m coming from I’m so used to going to classes, reading and writing exams, that’s it, that’s like the main studying culture. But over here you have to do a lot of research, you have to develop your writing skills and it was very challenging at first cause I wasn’t used to reading and writing in this way. I got used to it, it’s fine now and I can do any of these things!”

 How has your scholarship made a difference to you?

“I wasn’t going to get into grad school without a scholarship cause I had no means of funding myself. And being here has given me a difference experience – the educational system is different to what I had back home, I think I’m a better person now. It’s actually given me good interpersonal relations, cause I’ve had to work with people from different backgrounds.”

What words would you choose to describe your Keele experience?

“It’s been ‘Simply Phenomenal’! Though it was challenging at first, I see myself as more confident now.”

Finally, do you have any advice that you would give to a new student from Ghana who was coming to study at Keele -  what would you tell them?

“I just think, go for it! Come to Keele, you’ll make good friends, you get quality education and you’ll be a better person before you go back home.”

Stella from Ghana, Commonwealth Scholar 2013-14

MSc Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology

Welcome Stella! So can you tell what you were doing before you came to Keele?

“I had just finished my National Service. I was serving as a teaching and research assistant in my department – Department of Geography and Rural Development.”

 What is it that you like best about the University?

“The environment, the Green Keele stuff, it’s so wonderful – the environment is great and they’re so particular about sustainability issues. And the library too, opening 24 hours a day. “

What have been the main challenges during your time here?

“When I came, first it was coping with academics cause everything was just coming to me like that, everything was packed at the beginning, you had many deadlines to meet, many essays to write!”

 How do you feel that your scholarship has made a difference to you?

“Well it has really made a huge difference, there was no way I would have been self-sponsored… my parents could not afford that money cause the school fees and money for living and everything is so much – so thanks to the scholarship I have been afforded opportunity to come and study abroad. But for the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been here.”

What do you think about the teaching staff here at Keele and the facilities we have?

“Another striking thing about the facilities and the teaching and everything is that the lecturers, and even the non-teaching staff... they are always ready to listen to your problems and always willing to help. Any time at all you get access to the Internet, you do what you want to do – if it’s online research then at the library you can get some online stuff. You can stay in your room and access anything you want, and it’s great!”

What do you think of your accommodation?

“It’s great. Living with people from different backgrounds, sharing the fridge and stuff you know, you have your food and whatever from your country, you prepare home stuff – sometimes you’re cooking and someone comes and is like ‘what is that?’ so you have to tell them what you’re making and all, it’s wonderful. Learning different things from different people, cause you know we are all from different backgrounds and there’s cultural shock stuff. That was at the beginning, but with time I got used to it – so it’s been fun.”

 Have you joined any clubs or societies at Keele?

“I vied for the position of International Rep at Keele Postgraduate Association. My responsibilities will be trying to be the voice for International students, putting their problems across.”

Finally, what piece of advice would you offer to a student who was coming from Ghana to study at Keele?

“Keele is a great institution with wonderful people from all over the world, it is made up of a lot of international students. The first few weeks… you’ll be homesick, and all that, but once you gradually integrate yourself into the system you’ll find it’s amazing, it’s wonderful.”