A Summer in Korea
Sharing my study abroad adventures through a cohesive set of collages on Instagram Stories.
Reminisce in the memories with me.
A personal design project where I shared my study abroad adventures through a cohesive set of collages on Instagram Stories. Not your typical UX case study, but my thought process through this project highlights how I tackle human-centered design problems through attention to detail.
At a Glance
Timeline: Jun. 2019 - Aug. 2019 (8 weeks)
My Role: Designer
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, RNI Films (mobile app)
I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea for 6 weeks in the Summer of 2019 and decided to document my adventures through posting daily collages on Instagram Stories. It was a fun design project that not only highlights my trip, but also my love for communicating through design.
I wanted to share my adventures in a meaningful way.
Before I left for my 6-week study abroad program in Korea in the Summer of 2019, I knew I wanted to document my adventures in a meaningful and digestible way on social media. Taking photos and sharing them individually on social media throughout the trip would be great, but how could I share these moments in a way where my friends and family could thread the narrative together?
Many people mindlessly tap and scroll through social media -- I’m guilty of this too. However, I wanted to make posts that people would actually stop and look at.
So... I created daily collages for Instagram Stories
I created collages for each day’s adventures to post onto Instagram Stories. Adding each post to an Instagram Highlight allowed my friends and I to easily view my time abroad in one place. Through these collages, I was able to tell my story of how I lived my life to the fullest in Korea.
I chose Instagram for its photo-based feeds and ease of upload. I personally think that the best way to document memories is through photos because looking back on these mediums brings me back into that moment in a way that words and text cannot do.
Make the most out of Instagram Story Highlights
My two options for Instagram were posting to my profile or to Instagram Stories. Since I was going to be abroad in Korea for a total of 8 weeks, I knew there would be a lot of photos I would want to share from each day’s adventure.
Posting on my profile daily would spam my friends’ feeds and would make it easier for my friends to just mindlessly scroll past my post without actually looking at it. The Instagram algorithm could also hinder my friends from seeing any of my posts.
Because of this, I found Instagram Stories to be the perfect platform for me to document and share my adventures. I liked how I would be able to easily organize everything into an Instagram Highlight. The ease of tapping through an Instagram Highlight far outweighed having to scroll through lengths of photos and text to look back on these memories.
Collages allow me to live in the moment and curate content later.
One of my pain points with using Instagram Stories is when people post excessively about their time abroad by posting individual photos every time they go to a new place.
Posting collages to Instagram Stories is the perfect compromise because it allows people to post several photos in one design, thus solving the problem of spamming.
Posting a collage also means curating and thinking through the photos and text that I will be sharing. This allows me to craft a digestible narrative of the day that I would not have been able to if I had just posted a photo by itself.
Daily collages allow me to share the full narrative
One of my goals with this documentation project was to craft together a full narrative of my time abroad. Sharing moments sporadically throughout my time abroad would only highlight a portion of my adventures. I wanted to tell the full story, so I decided to share what I did every single day. This way, when my friends or I look back on my Instagram highlight, we can weave together a full narrative on how I spent my time in Korea.
I spent 30 minutes to 1 hour on each collage
I created these collages throughout my time abroad. Every few days, I would set about 2-3 hours aside before going to sleep to work on these collages. I would make about 3-4 at a time. Here’s a brief run through of what my process was:
- Sift through 60-100 photos of each day’s adventures.
- Select 3-5 photos that I wanted to share.
- Edit photos in Adobe Lightroom to have similar lighting and color to make the collages look cohesive.
- Layout edited photos into Adobe Photoshop.
- Add lettering, doodles, and design elements with my drawing tablet.
- Use RNI Films, a mobile photo editing app, to edit the lighting and coloring of the collage as a whole. Adding one overlay over the whole collage brings everything together.
- Upload the finished collage into Instagram Stories and add in the title, date, and captions before posting it for my friends to see.
Here's my first week in Korea!
I went on a field trip hosted by the University, saw lots of nature, met all of my study abroad friends, and explored Seoul. :)
Week 2 in Korea
Classes started, but I made sure to make time to explore the city, soak in the culture, and eat good food.
A closer look at the design
What I learned
- Every single day’s adventure is worthy of sharing and remembering. Creating these collages was my way of documenting my adventures so that I could easily look back on them and remember all of these moments. I regret not creating a collage for a few days because now, I don’t remember what I did on that day. I would have to look back into my journal or scroll endlessly through my photo album. I’m going to be honest, I will rarely do that because it takes so much effort — that’s why I did this project! Anyways, this has taught me the importance of sharing every part of a story. Doing so would create a complete narrative.
- Details are important when telling a story. When I came back to the United States and posted my last collage, my family and friends all commented that they loved looking at each part of the collage, complimenting how I decided to curate each day’s post. I spent a lot of time on these collages and was very detail oriented about it all -- from selecting the photos to choosing what kind of copy I wanted on the collage. This allowed all of my collages to not only be cohesive but to tell a story on how each day went and overall, how my study abroad experience was like. It all starts with the small details.
My time abroad in Korea was challenging, carefree, and fun. I am so grateful that I decided to document and share my adventures through this medium. It’s been a year since I left to study abroad, and every so often, I still go back to my Instagram Highlight to reminisce in my memories. During those two months, I had to learn to adapt to a new culture, gain enough confidence to speak in (my very basic and broken) Korean, and find home away from home. I grew a lot and I’m so glad that I have these collages to look back to.
I had originally started creating collages with the intent of just sharing my adventures through a small creative project, but afterwards, I realized how this project relates to the process of UX Design. Upon reflection, I actually spent a lot of time thinking through how and why I was going to create collages to post on Instagram Stories. This may not be the typical case study for a mobile or web application, but through this project, I was able to practice problem solving, creating a design system, and telling my story visually.
Thanks for reading through this case study. This project is very near and dear to my heart because of how much I’ve been able to get out of it.