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It was difficult to navigate that through the jungle of the internet. I needed structure and similar learning techniques. I was amazed to find all of that at Shillington.

Freelance Graphic Designer

Khadijah Adbul Nabi

Why did you choose to study at Shillington London?

I previously studied at Barnard College in New York. There it wasn’t about what we learned—it was more about how we learned the material, what we processed, how we approached our thesis, what were the questions we needed to ask. Making the correct observations, the right mistakes and being given the responsibility of learning.

After Barnard, it was difficult to navigate that through the jungle of the internet. I needed structure and similar learning techniques. I was amazed to find all of that at Shillington.

I also always wanted to spend my last year at Columbia as an exchange student in London. I loved the vibe and I also always wanted a different style of education that wasn’t American.

What were your favourite things about London? Why did you love studying and living there?

My favourite thing about London was getting to meet my second cousin, Ismael! It was definitely quite a surprise to both of us and our families! We found out we were related (second cousins, our grandparents were siblings) on the first Friday during week 1. It still makes me smile how Shillington brought us together.

I also loved that I finished my first 10K run during my Shillington course in Greenwich Park! That was an amazing highlight and accomplishment that I am really proud of because I was really able to commit to myself during a time of great change and difficulty. I could have easily given up, because of how tired I was everyday, but I didn’t!

I started a YouTube channel to document my journey and hope to continue showing my journey as I grow as a female designer in Iraq.

Do you have advice for someone who wants to study abroad?

My mental health was my priority. I knew I would be away from everything familiar and pushed into learning a great deal in a very short amount of time. As a New Yorker, I was prepared for the worst, and as a regular human being I was panicking, kicking and screaming inside, wanting comfort, needing friends, familiar food, rest, clarity, security. So, I did what I knew was best for me, I set up a morning routine of waking up at 5am every morning and having an hour to myself to stretch, eat a healthy breakfast, talk to family, and set myself up for my day, then when I came home I would go for a run and eat a proper meal. This isn’t to say I didn’t have bad days, breakdowns and sleepless nights, but it helped me focus on the task at hand for any given day.

My advice to anyone studying abroad: Based on your personality and needs, determine your non-negotiables and support yourself by implementing them into your schedule. It really helped me.

Before Shillington, you were working as a freelance designer. How did Shillington help to build your skillset?

I was working as a freelance designer with the basic knowledge of the tools, but without any formal training on how to go through the creative process when pressed with a tight deadline. I also didn’t understand industry standards, effective workflow and really pushing my ideas to their full potential. Shillington taught me all this and more.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am forever grateful to my teachers at Shillington. Thanks to Andy, Fiona, Hillary, Ed, and Amy (as well as Clay!) for supporting us, pushing us and really giving us their all. I don’t know how they do it three times a year!

Visit Khadijah’s website and read her full interview on the blog.

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