Hratch Momjian

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Kyushu University – Fukuoka, Japan

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!”

Landon Krivanec

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – RMIT University, Australia

BIO: My name is Landon Krivanec and I am a third-year mechanical engineering major and an engineering management minor. During my time at San Jose State University, I have become involved in many organizations of all types including but not limited to Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, BAJA Racing Club, and the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honors Society. However, despite these quality experiences, I knew I would not be satisfied with my college experience if I did not study abroad. Being born in Sacramento, California, and then choosing to go to University in San Jose, California gave me a very limited view of what the world has to offer. While I do love California, I knew there was much more to experience in other parts of the world. I chose to study abroad in Australia because of many reasons, but if I had to limit it to two, I wanted to go to Australia because of the amazing surf and wild nature. Australia exceeded my expectations in both categories and gave me moments I will remember for the rest of my life. I studied abroad in hopes of an adventure and to grow as a person, and I was able to achieve both and more in only 5 months.

GOALS: My goals for studying abroad were to see as much of Australia’s nature as possible and to have friends from all over the world. Australia’s nature is breathtaking and unique to the rest of the world. Any spare time I had I was either on a trip or planning my next trip. Meeting people from different parts of the world was one of the most exciting parts of living abroad. Each person had a lot to share about their experiences and what life was like for them back home. Each person I met gave me a new opportunity to learn more about the world.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The biggest impact studying abroad had on me was the understanding that there are many different ways to live a successful life. In my opinion, the U.S. is very career-oriented in terms of what we do and focus on in our day-to-day lives. However, it was very refreshing to see that life in different parts of Australia is more community and interest-based. My Australian friends described the difference as: “Americans live to work, but we work to live.” This idea has stuck with me since I was in Australia and has become something I want to implement into my life. I enjoy what I am studying, and I spend the majority of my time creating opportunities for my career. However, I have a lot of other hobbies and interests that often get overlooked because of this. Since coming back from Australia, I have continued to live a more balanced life that fulfills my need to work but also invest more time into my community and my other interests.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I took a lighter coursework load while I was abroad to ensure I had time to enjoy living in Australia. To be able to do this, I increased my workload the semester before and after my study abroad semester. After my study abroad semester, I feel refreshed and have a new desire to learn that has made me look forward to class time.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? The most valuable skill I learned while studying abroad is how to collaborate and work with others from different backgrounds. I continued my mechanical engineering studies at RMIT University and the majority of my assignments were project oriented. Working with international students from Singapore, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia all at the same time is where I truly learned the value of communication. This is a skill I continue to use in my academics at San Jose State University and will use in the industry. Another valuable experience that came from studying abroad is being exposed to different ways of doing everyday tasks. I saw this in both my schoolwork and daily life. One of the biggest differences between the U.S. and Australia is Australia’s use and integration of public transportation. A large majority of workers used the trams and trains for their daily commute into the city, saving time and money. This showed me the value of public transportation and inspired me to utilize our public transportation system in the Bay Area,

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? Living on another continent significantly changed my perspective on the world. Before I left for a semester abroad, I felt immersed in California. However, I was unaware of the ecosystem that is our world and how events in one area can create a chain reaction globally. Living outside of the United States gave me a better understanding of the different geopolitical environments in the world and how each has different effects.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad has exposed me to many different opportunities in life. These opportunities help me understand the different paths I can take and what the possible outcomes could be. This helps give my life a better sense of direction. Understanding the different opportunities in life helps me find what I want to do and how I can get there.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? For a future Global Spartan, I would recommend studying abroad more than once! There are so many study abroad programs to choose from which makes it easy to find one that is right for you. You should take advantage of the chance to live in a different country as often as possible while studying.