Study Design Abroad: Sheena Chong, Singapore to Shillington Melbourne

Sheena Chong was about to hit “the big 3-0”, and decided to make a big move, travelling from Singapore to Melbourne to study graphic design at Shillington. After seven years working as a Senior Marketing Executive for a cosmetic company, she decided it was now or never to fulfil her dream of travelling the world. She loved her 3 months in Melbourne, making new friends, drinking delicious coffee and exploring the great outdoors. Not to mention learning a whole new set of skills and graduating with an awesome design portfolio!  Since graduation, she’s back in Singapore working at Kallos, a magazine for girls (check out her latest project!), while freelancing on the side.

And guess what? In her Shillington class of 18 students, there were four (!) other students who were studying abroad from Singapore.

Read on to hear Sheena’s full story, including the visa she used to study abroad in Australia from Singapore, the process behind her favourite portfolio project and tips for creatives visiting Singapore.

You’re originally from Singapore. What were you up to before studying design at Shillington?

I was a senior marketing executive for a cosmetic company specialising in travel retail for Asia pacific.

I was hitting my big ‘30’ and I just wanted to do something that I have been dreaming about. One of my dreams was to travel around the world with my camera!

I took a leap of faith to do something really different. I left my job and went to Wales and I did a Bible College course in Swansea. And a month and a half after back in Singapore, I went to Melbourne for Shillington! It has been a wild adventure and a dream come true for me.

How did you find out about Shillington?

I saw the print ad on Frankie magazine a few years ago. And in recent years, I followed Shillington’s Instagram account! I’ve always enjoyed scrolling through the photos of the student work.

What visa did you get to study design in Melbourne?

The tourist visa ETA 601, which allows tourists of any age to live and study for up to 3 months. (Find out more visa options to study at Shillington here.)

What was the best thing about studying in Melbourne?

The best thing about studying in Melbourne is to experience a whole new set of routine. Learning new skills, experiencing new environments and cultures were very fun to me. And of course, I enjoy getting coffee from the cafes in Melbourne whenever we had breaks.

Any suggestions for other Singaporeans looking to study abroad in Australia?

It is really easy to get around in Australia. So, no worries about that. There are so many scenic places to explore that we do not have much in Singapore.

What was your favourite student brief in your portfolio? Tell us about your process and solution.

I designed a fun chocolate bar packaging with a removable sleeve that has origami instructions printed on the inside. My idea is to give the chocolate bar wrapper a second life! We can fold it into a heart and gift it to someone or just make it for yourself. For the patterns and colours of the packaging, I did research on Japanese minimalist graphic designs and posters. I created a GIF to show how it works, check that out.

How did you find the Shillington experience?

It was an extremely rewarding experience! I got to learn how to use the softwares and various applications. Made new friends from different countries. Our lecturers shared with us their experiences and expertise with us. We also had special guests speakers from the industry to share what’s happening in the design scene, and that really inspired my classmates a lot!

What have you been up to since graduating? What’s on the horizon?

I’m doing graphic design for a girls magazine called Kallos! I’ve been doing up new graphics on their social media page, working on some new merchandise. I’m also working on some freelance projects in both graphic design and photography. I’m still learning as I go as I make this career change. So far, it has been really fun and rewarding because I can put what I learned into practice. I am working on a few passion projects and I’ll see where this goes!

Three examples of Kallos Magazine covers

Where are your favourite places of creative inspiration in Singapore? Any tips for designers visiting?

I love the National Gallery which is located in the heart of Singapore. It used to be city hall and the former supreme court. It has been restored and now it holds the largest collection of Southeast asian modern art.

Secondly, I would recommend visiting our cultural hotspots like Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam. Beautiful architecture and delicious food all around. There is so much to see and so much to eat!
Lastly, the Marina bay area is a great place to explore in the evening where the sun sets into the skyline and the lights from the helix bridge and the skyline light up. Take a stroll to gardens by the bay to see the famous supertrees.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I just what to encourage people who are sitting on the fence if they should pick up this course or not. Be brave and be bold! There is more!

Go take a peek at the info sessions, attend the graduation show to find out more.

Huge thanks to Sheena for sharing her Shillington story! Be sure to check out her website and Instagram.

Would you like to study abroad at Shillington? Check out your visa options, and read stories from other students who studied abroad.

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