Stesutyun Hayastan

Five-and-a-half months after I arrived in Armenia in April, minute after minute, my time here is coming to an end. And it’s fitting that just like the sky today, I’m feeling grey. I learned so much, grew so much, lived so much. I picked up nuances about Armenia  that tourists can’t possibly grasp in two weeks or even a month. I met amazing and interesting people from all over the world, even some from my hometown of San Francisco Bay Area. I got to improve my Armenian vocabulary and interact with our people on a daily basis. I got to see how they live — some good, some not so good. I experienced the loving side of Armenia and it’s annoying sides, too. I was forced to adopt a more spontaneous approach to life versus having to schedule each second. I introspected and lived it up at the same time. And most importantly, I got the opportunity to give back via “Hearts of Armenia.”

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(Gloomy Fall day in Yerevan)

The question people naturally ask me after this experience is, “Will you ever live in Armenia permanently?” It’s a tough question – the short answer is “ayo!” but there’s so much more that goes into it. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that my love affair with Armenia is not over. It’s one of those romances that never truly dies. I know I will be back very soon!

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(My final heart spotting on my last day in Armenia)

For now here are some pros and cons of Armenia I observed while living here:

Pros:

  • Social, spontaneous culture
  • Easy to meet Armenians from all over the world
  • Small city so it’s easy to get around
  • Close to Europe, ideal for traveling
  • Big fish, small pond mentality
  • Walking versus car culture
  • Inexpensive compared to America
  • Safe environment to raise kids

Cons:

  • Unhealthy living: a lot of indoor smoking and drinking
  • Small city so no anonymity
  • Lack of career advancement and low pay
  • No good Mexican food!
  • No guaranteed access to everything you want
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