5 months, 2019
Interaction Designer (concept, research, design)
The first few months of an exchange is the hardest hump to get over for an student, and many quit early
Help exchange students with the initial culture shock that comes from exchanging.
Experiencing the user
When I began my thesis, I was currently on my second semester of an exchange. I went through my own culture shift, but I also lived with 200 other exchange students, and got to know a lot of their experiences as well.
Researching the user
In addition to talking to exchange students, I looked into research done on students on an exchange. I found various studies of the troubles students face, and polls on their feelings during an exchange.
Mapping the experience
I created a general experience map of an exchange student, to prove where there was need for help, finding it at the beginning of an exchange (right) and later expanding it out (below).
After determining where the need for help was, I created three personas and wrote of their feelings during events every exchange student faces. My personas helped me to visualize my research, with categorizing and determining three different types of people exchanging, and the various feelings and issues of each.
Existing outside and school services
Next, I wrote of existing services that could help what the exchange students were facing. I looked into both outside services, and services the schools generally provide to help exchange students. This allowed me to see exactly where the gaps of help were occurring.
Persona goals and pains
While I had already mapped the feelings my personas were having during exchange events, I decided to also map what their goals and pain points were for each event. This allowed me to see what they were hoping to achieve with an event, and what they were struggling with. Again, I was looking for the places where there were gaps in the services they were receiving, gaps where no service was aiding their goals or solving their pains.
Expanding the experience
By this point, I had already found some gaps in the experience of culture shock, and, to better understand what was occurring during culture shock, I expanded the experience of culture shock into different stages of shock. These stages I determined from numerous resources online.
With the exchange events, personas, and services mapped, I formed initial ideas I had to help fill in gaps. My ideas focussed on helping each individual personas needs, goals, and pains, in a different way than what was already offered by outside services and the school.
An event-based app
I ran with an idea of a platform based app that would provide events to exchange students. These events would be with other exchange students, that would encourage them to meet and experience new culutres, instead of shying away from them.