Research has shown that exposure to learning new languages and cultures holds various cognitive benefits. During these difficult times, it is even harder to connect with others and many college students looking forward to studying abroad are distraught as plans are cancelled. Those who learn about others’ backgrounds and cultures are more likely to be aware of global issues and take social action. Classrooms are also becoming increasingly multicultural but at the same time, those who are non-native English speakers must navigate through finding the right resources and understanding social culture of specific areas.

What it does

Addressing the aforementioned issues, this app conveniently connects you to others around the globe by pairing you up with another person (similar to a pen-pal) based on your interests, preferred language, and location. There is also a forum that enables you to post anonymously and answer questions or concerns that can be filtered through keywords, subject, language, and location. A problem that non native English speakers face is understanding perhaps certain slang so this app tailors to this by allowing an outlet for non native English speakers to (anonymously) ask for advice.

How we built it

We used Figma for ideation and design and Xcode for coding the app[Swift].

Challenges we ran into

Pinpointing exactly what we wanted to focus on was a bit difficult since we had to go from a general idea to an app that serves a specific function. It was also difficult to figure out what to use to create our app and to get used to the Xcode interface.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We built our first app. We worked well virtually, setting times to meet up and work on the project. We divided the work well. We used Swift for the first time. Our prototype is very similar to our output.

What we learned

Being completely new to mobile app development, we learned a lot about the different types of available software for mobile apps and the basics, such as XCode, Android Studio, and Flutter. We started off wanting to use Flutter to easily build the user interface, but some of our teammates ran into difficulties downloading the software itself. Thus, we shifted our gears into learning Swift to build an iOS app through XCode. While we did not finish the project completely, we learned about how to create multiple storyboards and connect them to a common navigation bar in order to allow each of us to edit our own storyboard for our respective sections. Utilizing the idea of refactoring our project, we were able to avoid merge conflicts as well. We each also learned more about using GitHub, finding that the GitHub Desktop is a great and convenient tool to have since you don’t need to use your terminal to push and pull the repository.

What's next for Discovering Dimensions

Our immediate goal is to finish a complete and functional prototype of Discovering Dimensions, having all the features we wanted to include and basing them on the theme of space and discovery. We plan to implement a more robust and user-friendly Profile section that allows users to customize their profile by adding what languages and cultures they are interested in learning along with personal images. This feature will allow the user themself and others to see if they have any mutual interests. We also wanted to have a security option where the user will have the ability to be anonymous or hide some of their profile details if they do not feel comfortable in sharing it. Additionally, for the matching/connecting section, we want to finish adding a glowing world map where each time the user makes a connection, then a star will show up on the map, pinpointing their connection’s location. Through the matching section, users can also use a filtering option to find new connections. Lastly, through our forum, we hope to allow users to post and interact with different discussion boards that depend on the culture/language that they are interested in learning. From there, users can ask a question or post other details, such as asking for Korean food recommendations or posting photos of their food. We would like to have sponsors for our mission as well as a point-based reward system that incentivizes participation.

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