Things you should know before studying abroad

Illustration by Twylamae

The A-Z of studying abroad.

There are two kinds of people in this world:

  • Those that study abroad
  • Those that do not study abroad, and regret it for the rest of their lives

If you’re lucky enough to be a part of the former group, you’ll know just how fun and rewarding the experience can be. But if you aren’t, we’re betting there’s a bunch of questions and anxieties holding you back.

Before you fall into the latter category, we enlisted the help of a recent study abroad alumnus and bombarded her with every question we could think of.

Chrystal Christie is fresh from an overseas trip, thanks to a study abroad opportunity with Shillington. Her studies took her from sunny Sydney, all the way to snowy New York for three months, so she’s seen and heard it all.

You can check out her journey in the video below, or read on for an A-Z of studying abroad. Bon voyage.

Hi Chrystal! First off, what course did you study?

I studied graphic design for three months full-time at Shillington.

Why did you decide to study design abroad?

I’ve always loved New York and on the top of my life goals list was to live there someday.

After many talks with Mum, she floated the idea of studying there. I’m quite creative and love to make art, slowly I discovered graphic design and thought it could be cool to study and turn into a profession after high school.

We did some research and found Shillington and everything fell into place.

What’s the application process like?

There was a lot of paperwork to fill out. Especially when it came to the visa. When things got a bit confusing, Shillington’s staff were just one call or email away, they made it really easy for me.

What’s an important item to bring with you?

Anything that will help capture the memories as they’re being made. I took three different cameras including a polaroid. I also took my art journal and would often sit on the red steps in Times Square or on the grass in Bryant Park to draw my surroundings.

What should stay at home?

When you’re packing, you’re going to have the urge to take your entire wardrobe – DON’T. You will buy so many things especially clothes and shoes so only pack the essentials.

Where did you live in NYC?

I lived in an apartment in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan which was so good. There are so many restaurants [in the area] and it was a nice distance to walk to and from school.

If you could now tell yourself one thing before you went, what would that be?

I remember the day before I was to start Shillington, I was pretty scared. I had just finished high school six months before and was so used to my own comfort zone.

New city, new people, new subjects, I got pretty overwhelmed. But as soon as I finished my first week it all went away, so I guess I’d tell myself to not be scared and just embrace all of the new things!

So what’s the best part about studying abroad?

So many things. The fact that you’re in a different city (especially New York!) and how you can explore the lifestyle. You meet all different types of people and are so easily inspired by them and the place that surrounds you. It also gives you a chance to really discover yourself and even start fresh.

And the worst part?

The expenses. New York was a pretty expensive place so any chance I had to make my own dinner for the night, I would.

What kind of projects did you work on?

So many! Every day in class we would get a new project to work on, which would help us learn all of the design programs.

At the beginning of every day, our teachers would tell us what we were going to make (for example a brochure), and then they would brief us on all the specifications for sizes, fonts, colours, etc.

By the end of the course, we had to make a portfolio that showcased our best projects.

Best advice for someone else considering travelling abroad?

If you have any doubts I can assure you the pros will always outweigh the cons. Yes, you are there to study, but you will also learn a lot about yourself. Make sure you have an open mind for new experiences and opportunities

What are you up to now?

I worked on my brand and started freelancing with graphic design getting a lot of small jobs. I also started photography and videography for events and soon after a couple of gigs I was approached by an entertainment company.

I am now their head photographer, I do videography work for them, I run all their social media and am also their go-to graphic designer. It’s honestly the most perfect job I could ask for.

You can check out Chrystal’s work over on her website, watch how she got a student visa here and discover your own visa options to study abroad in New York, London or Manchester here.


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