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Study Design Abroad: Ana Petre, Vancouver to Shillington Brisbane

Always dreamt of packing your bag and jetting off to a different city? Well, studying design abroad at Shillington could help you make it happen. As part of our new blog interview series, ‘Study Design Abroad’ we speak with #Shillumni who moved from their home countries to try something a little different, all while studying graphic design.

In this feature, meet Ana Petre, who traded Vancouver, Canada for Brisbane, Australia to study design for 3 months full-time at Shillington. Since graduating she’s returned home, running Terrene—a lifestyle blog, being a host for The Design Kids and keeping creative and collaborative at every turn. As she explains, “Shillington certainly has opened my eyes to the greater creative community out there and given me more tools in my box to be able to contribute and help it grow—to be a part of it—it’s all really exciting!”

You’re originally from Canada. What were you up to before Shillington?

I grew up in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia where I finished my BA in Communication, New Media, and Technology. I was fortunate enough to have done a fair bit of traveling while in university—including two previous trips to Australia.  

I caught the travel bug and knew I needed to craft a creative career that would allow me the freedom to work on what I’m passionate about from anywhere in the world.

How did you discover Shillington and why did you decide to study in Brisbane?

I only wanted to do two things after I graduated university—travel and study design. I began to look online for programs abroad and as soon as I found out about Shillington I knew I needed to study there.

I chose Brisbane after initially wanting to do the part-time course in Sydney and work while I studied. But instead, I took a 1-year Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) to travel, pick fruit, study yoga, and live a van before diving in head first to the full-time design course in Brisbane!


What were your favorite things about living and studying in Brisbane? Any recommendations for students hoping to study abroad in Australia?

I found the climate and environment had a huge impact on my creative process—being surrounded by such foreign landscapes and wildlife was incredibly inspiring.

I also felt comfortable and at home with a lot of the people that came into my life while overseas—some of the connections I had made the year prior I then saw again while studying at Shillington the following year, that was a really cool way to do it.

If I could recommend one thing it would be to do whatever you need in order to be comfortable and committed during your studies. It is an intense program overseas—probably outside of your comfort zone—so have fun with it, you’re not there forever. Also, make the most out of the time you have access to your teachers, take the time to digest everything you learn. 

And if it’s within your means, I would say 100% extend your trip and experience the place once you’ve graduated, this will help ease you back and allow time for everything to sink in.

Did you make any meaningful connections during your time studying in Australia?

Definitely. Our class had such a solid group of people from all over (including Australia)—we all got to know each other very well and became close by the end of our program. To this day some of us keep in touch on a regular basis through social media. We bounce ideas around for various projects we’re working on individually, share an unhealthy amount of memes, and discuss other top secret topics I will not disclose.  

To be honest, we didn’t have very much time outside of class during the program, however, we still managed to celebrate birthdays and made it out to a lot of gigs/events going on in the city.

Brisbane is such a hidden gemI don’t think people realize it yet—It has this vibrant culture of music and art, there’s always a lot going on. 

What have you been up to since graduating from Shillington? Do you think the skills you learned during the course prepared you for the design industry—especially back in Canada?

I’ve been enjoying the summer back in Vancouver, reconnecting with family that I hadn’t seen since taking off overseas.  I’ve also dived head first into the art/design scene here—I am one of the Vancouver Hosts for TDK—The Design Kids Vancouver. We’ve been hosting monthly events like live mural painting, I also helped another artist with his piece for Vancouver Mural Festival. It’s been a summer of connecting and collaborating so I’ve had a tonne of fun since coming home after graduating.

Shillington certainly has opened my eyes to the greater creative community out there and given me more tools in my box to be able to contribute and help it grow—to be a part of it—it’s all really exciting. I’m surrounded by people with a lot of ideas and feel as though we have the ability to tackle them and make them a reality.

From your experience, would you encourage others to study abroad?

If anyone has an interest in design I would highly encourage them to consider studying at Shillington—it was one of the best decisions I have made and I would do it again and again.

I would say definitely study abroad if you can, it’s an incredible experience that you won’t forget.  There will be challenges, it may not be as affordable as staying at home but if it’s something you want to do just go for it. 

Any words of wisdom for students about to start their Shillington experience?

  1. Show up positive, keep an open mind, and always have confidence in the guidance of your teachers.
  2. You get out the work you put in so be willing to work really hard!
  3. Don’t forget to have fun with it.

Huge thanks to Ana Petre for sharing her experience of studying design abroad at Shillington Brisbane. Be sure to see more of Ana’s design work on Behance and follow her on two cool Instagram accounts— and @petre.creative for regular updates.

Want to travel the world and become a graphic designer? Learn about your visa options to study design abroad at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

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