Tips from Students Who Studied Design Abroad at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane

Moving to a brand new city take courage and passion. Hear tips from past students who moved cities to study design abroad at Shillington, including accommodation suggestions, packing tips, mental health reminders, language suggestions and more.

Read full interviews with students who studied design abroad, like Lenny who moved from Toronto to Brisbane, Robyn who moved from Cape Town to Sydney, Nick who moved from Portland to London and Chrystal who moved from Sydney to New York City.

How can I prepare for the course in advance?

  • Get travel insurance. “The insurance I used is World Nomads, which would cover any emergency medical expenses, or other mishaps that can happen while traveling. It’s not too expensive either.” —Kaitlyn Wright, Seattle to Shillington Brisbane
  • Join Facebook Groups in your new city. “There are lots of Facebook groups for expats. Join them!” —Stephanie Halovanic, New York and Shillington Melbourne
  • Find inspiration first.
    • “Don’t worry about any of the technical stuff in advance, just immerse yourself in design inspiration so you’re as creative and inspired as you can be!” —Chloe Watson, Newcastle to Shillington Manchester
    • “I purchased Creative Cloud and Sketch ahead of the course to familiarise myself with the software, but this wasn’t necessary, and I learnt at a much much faster pace during class.” —Leila Houbrooke, New Zealand to Shillington Brisbane
    • “Research! Lots of research. Make sure to follow design blogs, Instagram accounts, Pinterest and Behance some of your favourite work that you may also want to create. Knowing what you like in terms of style prior to the course is very useful. if you can, read about design theory or the history of graphic design to better prepare yourself!” —Lenny Kai Yang, Toronto to Shillington Brisbane
    • “Try and immerse yourself in all things design—read books, follow blogs, watch tutorials. This will all stand you in good stead for the course.” —Suzannah James, London to Shillington Sydney
    • “If you want to educate yourself before you start, read books, explore websites, and start creating a collection of material to refer to during the course! Studios, artists, podcasts. Pinterest is great for this, as are Behance and Dribbble. Follow some designers or artists whose style you vibe with, and also back your own abilities! Any skills you think may be relevant will be, even if it’s after you graduate. Drawing, knitting, pottery, music… it all fits into your career as a graphic designer.” —Leila Houbrooke, New Zealand to Shillington Brisbane

Robyn Hunt, from Cape Town to Shillington Sydney

How should I find accommodation?

  • Live close to campus. “Live near the school. You’ll have more time to commit to school work and less commuting.” —Janice Tsang, Hong Kong to Shillington London
  • Make your home a comfortable, nice place to study. “Finding a comfortable place to live is the most important thing! You’re going to be working very, very hard – the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life – and having somewhere safe and relaxing to come back to can make the world of difference to your mental health. If you’re subletting or staying in an Airbnb, try to schedule a video call with your host before you commit to booking, and make sure they know what your schedule will be and what your requirements are – you wouldn’t want to accidentally end up in a party house.” —Lily Fielding, United Kingdom to Shillington Brisbane
  • Use your network. “Get in touch people you know or even friends of friends who live or have lived in the city. They have the best tips on areas, I ended finding a flat this way.” —Kayla Greer, New Zealand to Shillington Melbourne
  • Practice your journey to campus before the first day. “When you get to your new home take a test run to the college, figure out your routine early!” —Kate Holland, Brisbane to Shillington London

How did you afford the course?

  • Saved like crazy.
    • “I had saved specifically for it, knowing that I wouldn’t want to work during the course. I calculated the 3 month allowance and factored that into what the course fees would be for me.” —Mikaela Smith, London to Shillington Brisbane
    • “Saved hard and worked a second job before moving to Melbourne to study.” —Kayla Greer, New Zealand to Shillington Melbourne
    • “I worked full-time for over a year, combined with emptying out my existing savings —terrifying but well worth it!” —Chloe Watson, Newcastle to Shillington Manchester
  • Loan from parents. “A loan from my parents. Still paying it off… but totally worth it!” —Kate Holand, Australia to Shillington London
  • Spent my savings. “I took a risk and drained my savings to attend Shillington. I also borrowed some. I was not planning to go back to school when I left my job at the charity, so the expense of moving to a new city and paying tuition again were unexpected, to say the least. In the end, it was TOTALLY worth it.” —Alexandria Pauluhn, Florida to Shillington New York
  • Credit card. “Credit card from US bank which has no interest for one year, so I am able to pay off within the year with out extra expense.” —Kaitlin Wright, Seattle to Shillington Brisbane
  • Consider the payment plan. “Personal savings. In hind sight I probably would have made use of the payment plan rather than paying up front.” —George Viney, Western Australia to Shillington Sydney

What if English isn’t my first language?

  • Useful setting to improve. “The full-time course was super useful for the language actually! I wasn’t used to the British accent but while study at Shillington I felt I was also doing a full time English course. In my class there were people from all over the world and a lot of people from different parts of UK, that was useful to get used to the different British accent and ‘slang’,”—Margherita Baldi, Italy to Shillington Manchester
  • Ask to sit in the front row. “Ask to be changed to one of the first rows. It changed everything—I could understand all of it! Sometimes when English is not your first language, you will have days where you feel apart, because maybe your vocabulary is not as extended as the native speakers, but you will always find the ways to express yourself. Also with time you will be more fluent and your vocabulary will get so much better.” —Lua Bustos, Spain to Shillington Brisbane
  • Don’t be shy. Ask for help. “Well, that was the thing I was worried most before starting at Shillington. My English was good, but my speaking skills were bit rusty. And I was worried about how I would explain/ express my thoughts, my projects, well in general my self. But all those worries disappeared on the first day. I noticed that the teachers had patients to understand what I was saying (or trying to haha) and a lot of patience to explain something again once I didn’t understand. And that not only about the language, but for everyone who didn’t understand something. And also my classmates were amazing! They were super open to answer my questions and doubts! For the future students I will say, you’re not alone! It’s scary sometimes to express yourself in another language. But you can always count with someone, don’t be shy to say that you don’t understand or what is the mean of the word! Its like that quote ‘the magic happen outside your comfort zone.’” —Deborah Kutnikas, Brazil to Shillington New York
  • Read design blogs in English to learn the lingo. “Some design lingo was a bit tricky to pick up, so it’s good to read design blogs in English to get more familiar with industry words.” —Luisa Mello Alves Bueno de Paiva, Brazil to Shillington Brisbane

Dee Liang, from Denver to Shillington Melbourne

What should I pack?

  • Pack light!
    • “Pack light! The move is temporary, so try to bring just the necessities. Most of your day-to-day items can be purchased in your new city, no matter where you are in the world. Think of it as an exercise in minimalism. I found it very freeing to be living in a new place, unencumbered by ‘things.’ I think it helped me to focus my creativity on the program.” —Alexandria Pauluhn, Florida to Shillington New York
    • “Didn’t really bring much other than clothing a some personal items. Pretty much started from scratch when I arrived in Sydney. Which I think was great. It was like a whole new chapter in my life.” —George Viney, Western Australia to Sydney
    • “I overpacked on some art/craft/design materials (brought my cutting mat LOL) You can probably go easy on these things because the campus is sufficiently equipped” —Zee Hwee Tey, Singapore to Shillington Melbourne
  • Check the weather. “Look up the weather in advance because it might be different from home.” —Luisa Mello Alves Bueno de Paiva, Brazil to Shillington Brisbane
  • The classroom is not a catwalk.
    • “I was prepped for a fashion show every day but I think I wore the same 3 outfits on rotation every day.” —Mikaela Smith, London to Shillington Brisbane
    • “Pack comfy clothes. You will be sitting for a loooong time so maybe is not the best time to wear those pants that you look gorgeous but are really uncomfortable when you sit (I speak from experience). You will want to rip them off. —Lua Bustos, Barceloa to Shillington Brisbane
  • Bring high-quality equipment.
    • “Ensure you’ve got all the right technical tools and equipment for the course. A computer/laptop that is on its last legs should be left at home.” —Kate Holland, Brisbane to Shillington London
    • “Make sure to have a trusty Mac, a favorite sketchbook, and plenty of pens and pencils on hand. Other than that, come with and open mind and no expectations and be prepared to be amazed at what you are capable of.” —Alexandria Pauluhn, Florida to Shillington New York
  • Get packing cubes. “Packing cubes are your best friend— they are worth the investment!” —Lenny Kai Yang, Toronto to Shillington Brisbane
  • Leave space to bring stuff home! “Leave plenty of space in your packing for your return trip, I accumulated a surprising amount in just three months!” —Chloe Watson, Newcastle to Shillington Melbourne

Mia Dellore, from Slovenia to Shillington Manchester

Mental health and wellness tips?

  • Be prepared to devote most of your free time to design. “I wish I had put more time into my study early on. Throw everything in from day 1. Sometimes it feels like it’s all too much and you doubt that you’ll ever have a portfolio like others you are shown, but if you work hard and trust your teachers, you will amaze yourself with what you can do.” —George Viney, Western Australia to Shillington Sydney
  • Create a gratitude practice. “Having a gratitude practice can help keep things in perspective when having a difficult time during the course; while the course work can be difficult it is such a privilege to study at Shillington. Try to squeeze the most out of your time at Shillington and savor being with everyone because it goes quickly.” —Kaitlyn Wright, Seattle to Shillington Brisbane
  • Practice yoga! “Learn some yoga movements, your body will need to stretch. Believe me.” —Lua Bustos, Barcelona to Shillington Brisbane
  • If studying full-time, don’t have a part-time job. “The 3 month course is very intense with not a lot of free time. I would not recommend having a job during the 3 month course, while some people make it work it seems pretty miserable to be working while doing the course.” —Kaitlyn Wright, Seattle to Shillington Brisbane
  • Keep an open mind.
    • “Have an open mind and prepare to learn. There’s a lot of course content in a short amount of time, but it’s broken down into bite size chunks so it’s easy to digest.” —Georgia Duckett, United Kingdom to Shillington Manchester
    • “Try and go in with no expectations and an open mind; it makes it easier to take in what is being thrown at you and you can become really immersed in learning new skills.” —Natalie Taylor, England to Shillington New York
  • Take risks! “Since it is technically a learning ground, use it as an opportunity to try all your weirdest/dumbest/craziest ideas because there are no real-world consequences you have to answer for. Don’t hold back, GO WILD!” —Zee Hwee Tey, Singapore to Shillington Melbourne
  • Give yourself time before and after the course. “You get out of it as much as you out in it. Plan in time before and after the course to relax.” —Vivian Choi, Newcastle to Shillington Brisbane

Lenny Kai Yang, from Toronto to Shillington Brisbane

Ready to study abroad? Discover your visa options to study design abroad at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

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