Hratch Momjian

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Kyushu University – Fukuoka, Japan
EMAIL: hratch.momjian@sjsu.edu

BIO: My name is Hratch Momjian and I am currently a 3rd year mechanical engineering major at SJSU. I’m a first generation Armenian-American, who always liked sharing my cultural differences with others. Furthermore, I also really enjoy talking to people with all kinds of different backgrounds and cultural experiences. If I speak to someone with an English accent I typically ask where they’re from because I enjoy hearing their stories and how they got to their current situation. Because of this, I really wanted to go and study abroad as I would be in a place where I am surrounded by people who have lived completely different lives from me.

GOALS: My goals when studying abroad were to make friends, study in a different environment and, most importantly, step outside of my comfort zone. Throughout my life I have stayed within my comfort zone where I feel best in and would always feel uneasy if I had to do something outside of it. Studying abroad would definitely throw me way outside of my comfort zone and force me to become a much more adaptable person. Being adaptable in any situation helps in networking and general problem solving. Being able to stay calm and collected during a rough time, whether that be in school, work or personal life, allows me to execute what I would like to do most effectively.

PERSONAL GROWTH: I think there are two ways that I grew as a person: self-sufficiency and sociability. Before going abroad I felt as if I was never a sociable person. I never was really able to connect with people who I was not already friends with. Most of my friends at home were also people who were similar to me and talking with them would be much easier. However, after going abroad I think my sociability has improved greatly. I feel much more confident to go out and actually speak with people who are not like me. My self-sufficiency has also improved as I no longer feel that I always need to be surrounded by people to be happy. Before coming to Japan, going outside and doing things alone was never an option. I would always ask friends if they wanted to go with me and if they didn’t say yes, I would simply not go out. However, I now feel much better about doing things I want to do even if I don’t have anyone accompanying me.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I took seven upper division engineering courses which made my academic experience quite difficult. However, I don’t believe that it was because the courses themselves were difficult but the method of studying was different to ours at SJSU. In Japan, the professor did a lot more of lecturing than actually giving out and reviewing homework assignments. Furthermore, they had an expectation that the students would not only study the given material but also do self studying on their own. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just a different way of doing it. The students are on their own much more. When coming back to SJSU I feel much better about studying on my own now as before I would just rely on the professor to give out the assignment and teach. I am more self-reliant than before thus making me more confident to do well in a class where the professor might not be the best.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? I think I definitely sharpened my ability to connect with people that I had never met before and are completely different from me. When you go out and try to get jobs, you are inevitably going to be talking with people who are nothing like you. Having the ability to connect and positively impact each other has proven to be a great skill to have as other people will enjoy being around you. Going abroad sharpened this skill for me and made me feel much more confident going into job interviews and making a better first impression which will lead to a higher success rate of landing jobs.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? After going abroad I think I am much more appreciative of what my parents have done to get my family and I to comfortably live in America. Hearing the stories of other exchange students and international students, I understand how lucky I am that I grew up in America without needing to move back and forth between different places. A lot of the other students ended up studying in multiple different international schools in different countries, moving two or three times in their lives. I don’t think I ever really understood how difficult that makes life for them: making lifelong friends is harder, opening up to others is harder and simply getting comfortable is harder.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad has prepared me for the future by enhancing my social skills. I believe that I am much more comfortable with speaking to new people who have immensely different backgrounds compared to me. When I am going to be in job interviews, the interviewers are going to be people who are not my age nor have any of the life experiences that I would be able to relate to. However, after going abroad I feel like I will be able to relate and connect with these people much more easily thus helping me land more jobs. Everyone I speak to in my life is not going to be friends that have done the same things I’ve done, eaten the same things I’ve eaten, played the same games I have and after going abroad, conversing with these people will no longer be a problem for me.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? I would say: “Don’t hole up in your room. You don’t get this opportunity often so I don’t think it would be smart to hole up and not do anything when you have all these options and chances to do so many different things. Try and make new friends there, and try not to rely on your friends at home for social communication. If you are staying for a semester or two, having friends abroad will make your life more interesting and fun while you’re away, all while keeping you from feeling any sense of loneliness. Having people to hang out with makes you forget about home and helps get you through those days where you miss home and want to go back, which I assure happens to everyone. Furthermore these friends that you make abroad will be awesome people to know especially if you decide to come back and visit again. Lastly, making friends builds your communication and social skills that will help you in the future with job applications and career events. Go out there and have some fun! Don’t hold back!”