Henry Tran
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An Airbnb Design Challenge that expanded upon

My role: UX/UI designer

Partner: Jena Martin

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Over 1.21 million international students have been enrolled to schools across United States in 2018 and many of them have a hard time trying to find support in communities.


Our Goal

A solution that would bring exchange students and locals together so that students can be comfortable making friends, and finding their mentors throughout their experience.




Studying aboard has been a challenge for many exchange students personally and professionally because of culture, language, people,…Therefore, airbnbBloom will help students to make an easier transition moving from their country to a new one.



AirbnbBloom will help to bring exchange students closer to the new culture and people by creating a safe environment for them to spend their time and be themselves while making friends in a new country.

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Primary Research

In order to empathize with the excitement but also struggles that many exchange students may have to go through. We conducted many interview to obtain insights from the students from different states across the U.S

I think it was really helpful to ask the person who already had experience before you
— Exchange student from Boston
The accent was different than what I’d been taught
— Exchange student from Singapore

Insight: Our participants had a difficult time trying to fit with the new culture right away and connect with people around them.


Secondary Research

Competitor Review

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SCAD Resources


  • Introduction to life in the US

  • Information about SCAD facilities and exposure to the surrounding community

  • Housing accommodations, meals and cultural excursions

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Lonely Planet


  • How to start a conversation with locals while traveling

  • Find and book great hotels, hostels

  • Learn how to travel with a purpose

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Airbnb Experiences


  • Activities are designed and led by inspiring locals

  • Share your passion with the world

  • Help people in a group connect with one another and feel welcome

Why Studying Abroad?

Source: http://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/why/alumni-survey-results

Source: http://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/why/alumni-survey-results


We want to focus on unlocking these benefits for our exchange students with the design.

Insight: Exchange students cannot expand the full potential of their studying abroad experience because of a lack of confidence.



In order to understand more about the culture and how to help exchange students to settle in easier in a new country. We did several observations to gain more insights for our solution.



  • Best occasion of the year for everyone to get together

  • Opportunity to celebrate with locals and get better understand about the culture

  • Introducing to the holidays food, another way to learn about the holidays

  • Listen to holidays music is a perfect opportunity to learn a new language through singing.


Travel Guides

  • Learn about the area through others’ perspectives.

  • Easy to navigate the surrounding area.

  • Have a better understanding about the area through history, music, people, food & drink,…



We put together all the insights we got from out interviewees in categories to figure out what they need the most and how they feel comfortable in their new culture.

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Insight: People have a hard time to start a conversation in English at first and they find it comfortable to have someone, they are familiar with, to show/guide them around the area.




User Journey

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Initial Idea

3 days itinerary for exchange students to gain as much as insights about the area, people, culture while connecting with their mentors.

What works:

  • Mentorship program

  • How to keep the experience engaging

  • A fun learning/connecting environment

What doesn’t work:

  • Already existed

  • Only one mentor is allowed per student

  • Social range is limited


Shifting our design

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What is missing here?

Human interaction!

We realized that everything ONLY stayed within the app. Therefore, we want our design to bring everyone together physically and mentally by enhancing the connection between one person to another in a community space.



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What is it?

  • AirbnbBloom is a community space/pavilion that opens to public and exchange students.

  • The space will give exchange students many opportunities to be comfortable with who they are and feel welcome inside the space in order to “be happy”, “be yourself”, “be social”

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3 different experiences within one space

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Inside Bloom

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We create a storyboard to visualize how Bloom will bring people together and help them to be confident while making friends.

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On Boarding

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Bloom Experience

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Thank You