GAF Story

Samantha Crisp

James Cook University
Bachelor of Advanced Science

Samantha Crisp, James Cook University scholar. Young blonde woman smiling, the ocean in the background.

Moving over 2,500 km from Esperance to Townsville for university didn’t phase Samantha, so it’s no wonder she’s made a bigger move to study abroad in Copenhagen. We caught up with Samantha to find out about her studies, moving across Australia and Danish culture. 

You relocated from Esperance to Townsville to study at James Cook University (JCU). How did you find moving across Australia?

From a young age, I had always planned on studying at JCU, so when I finally made the move, I was overwhelmed with excitement. The prospect of specialising in my field of interest, forging new friendships, exploring foreign environments and living independently was beyond exciting. The fact that I focused on the positive outcomes of the move also made the transition easy.

When I left Townsville to study abroad in Copenhagen, I felt like I was ‘leaving something behind’. My strong network of friends, the great educational environment at JCU and the beautiful Queensland environment has meant that I have established a new home in Townsville.

What are your tips for managing homesickness?

Luckily, homesickness has never been a big issue for me. It is normal to miss people and places from home, but I always find that there is too much to appreciate in my present situation to be overcome by sadness. I think that it is important to focus on the good things that you do have, and not the things that you don’t. If you are missing home, though, it is always refreshing to spend time with friends, talk with family from home and to do the things that you love.

What are you studying, and why?

I am studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science, majoring in Marine Biology, at JCU. Having grown up in the small coastal town of Esperance, Western Australia, I was raised to embrace and respect everything the ocean has to offer, and I am therefore driven to conserve the environment and the cultures and communities which depend upon it for survival. Since commencing study at JCU, my life-long passion for the ocean has evolved into a desire to have significant impacts on both marine research and management. Although I am open to all opportunities, I have quite a specific dream of doing socio-cultural conservation work, informed by research that will instigate positive change in local communities.

How is studying abroad in Copenhagen?

Studying abroad in Copenhagen is really interesting. The prospect of moving to Copenhagen for seven months offered a similar thrill to my move to Townsville, but this time it was complemented by Danish pastries! Yesterday was my first day studying at the University of Copenhagen, and I already love the foreign culture, my amazing new friends, the different university structure and of course the interesting food. I am so fortunate to be able to live and study in a foreign country and am excited to broaden my degree and create international contacts in my field.

What are the biggest differences between studying in Australia and Denmark?

Apart from the fact that I am no longer in the minority as a blonde (everyone in Denmark has blonde hair!), there are many differences between studying in Australia and Denmark. So far, I have found the egalitarian approach to education, characteristic of the Danish culture, really refreshing, as professors and students are treated as equals. The University of Copenhagen has a completely different course and assessment structure to Australian universities and seems to place a huge emphasis on group collaboration.

How has a GAF scholarship made travel possible for you?

My aspirations to move across the country, and now across the world, to study, initially seemed over-ambitious, however, having the GAF scholarship has made them a reality. The flexibility and financial security provided by the scholarship has enabled me to travel, broaden my degree and network, which is truly invaluable. The fact that employment, while studying at JCU, is no longer a primary concern has meant that I can dedicate myself to my studies and passions, which in turn has created new opportunities for me. It is crazy to think that I would not be sitting here today, eating Kanelsnegle (Danish cinnamon scrolls) on the streets of Copenhagen, if it was not for The George Alexander Foundation.