Introduction

this is me

This is me in the first week of January in 2014. Fast forward a year later and I finally have gotten around to working on a resolution that I had made: Start a Blog.  My name is Angela. I was  born in Massachusetts, and after graduating high school in 2005, my family decided to move to Armenia. My parents were born and raised in Jerusalem, and had both moved to the U.S. at different points in their lives, before they became reacquainted. Neither of them had traveled to Armenia before our first family vacation, and just a few years later BAM! We moved. Continue reading

Vahagn-Spring Equinox-Nowruz Day

March 20th marked the day of the Spring Equinox, when the Sun crosses the Garnicelestial equator and we experience nearly exactly 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime. It symbolizes new beginnings, and so it comes as no surprise that this day is aligned with ancient celebrations all across different cultures around the world. Now while any and all Armenians will boast to you that Armenia was the first nation to accept Christianity as the national religion (circa 300 AD), Armenian culture is truly one of the most ancient ones you could come across. This means, before Christianity, we were fire worshiping pagans, with our own set of  gods, demi-gods, and pagan holidays (similar to Greek and Roman mythology). March 20th, or the Spring Equinox, was one of those ancient holidays, and it is celebrated even today. Every year Garni, the classical Hellenistic temple, which is considered to be “the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia,” is filled with crowds of people celebrating Vahagn’s birthday. This year, I decided to check it out.

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Pi Day: Armenia in the Tech World

Last Saturday was International Pi Day! Not pie day, but pi day meaning π (pi) 3.14159. It is usually a day that is overlooked, unless you are a mathematician or you are a recent prospective student to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT posts acceptance/rejection decisions online on Pi Day at exactly 6:28 pm). I would like to observe this day by bringing attention to the thriving science and technology sector in Armenia. It turns out that I am not the only one as  Armenia has been gathering a lot more attention of late. Whether it is due to the fact that the centennial is fast approaching this year, or the genuine fact that a lot of innovation is coming from the little known country, the fact remains that we are getting your attention.

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Armenia’s Road to Feminism

It’s March 8, International Women’s Day, and before we get into the festivities and culturally accepted well-meaning gestures I urge all of you to watched a powerful and moving TED talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism.March 8 is actually a BIG THING in Armenia, which really is ironic to me considering the treatment of women on the remaining 354 days of the year (April 7 is also Women’s/Mother’s Day). Being a feminist in Armenia is not particularly easy, though I can’t say it’s all too much better elsewhere either. Many people throughout my time living in Armenia have made arguments against feminism like:

“It’s not really as big a problem as ‘Westerners’ make it out to be.”

“It’s not gender discrimination, it’s just a cultural difference.”

“Feminists are unbearable man-haters.”

So I’d like to share my thoughts, taking quotes from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and adding an Armenian twist to the African feminist’s words.

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The Cost of Living in Armenia

This post is going to be all about questions. Questions I’ve had for a really REALLY long time, and I never quite seem to understand the answers to. Questions that I’ve asked a lot, but to which the answers never came quite to my satisfaction. SO really, I will be sharing some experiences I’ve had in the hopes that one of YOU will be able to put my questions to rest.

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Armenian Superstition

I’m sure the most common superstitions across the globe involves breaking mirrors for 7 years of misfortune,  walking under a ladder for bad luck, and woe to those crossing paths with a black cat. Well Armenia has a set of superstitions which I’d learned about here, and which may be more specific to the culture or region. Do you believe in superstition? Have you heard of any of these?

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A Journey from Diversity to Monotony and Back Again

One of the first “culture shock” experiences I had, was going from a super diverse country (the US) to a super uniform country, Armenia. You know that horrible joke that people say about Asians, how they all look the same? Well, those were my first impressions when I came to Armenia… “Everyone looks… the same!” Don’t get me wrong, I am Armenian too, I have the same brunette hair, brown eyes, short stature, just like everyone else. But my eyes were so used to seeing blond hair, black skin, TALLER people. I remember being among the shortest people in my high school. I came to Armenia and thought.. hey, I’m not too bad! So at first it was very strange to see that there was no sense of diversity, and it was only after years and years and years and years of living in Armenia that I began to notice the subtle differences among Armenians. Now I find myself saying ridiculous things like, “but I have tall friends too!” or “But I have this one neighbor with blue eyes!” When before I would get excited at those rare occasions when I would see a girl with natural blond hair, or a boy with blue eyes, now I think, yeah, Armenians don’t all look the same.

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Medical Tourism

doctor

So Armenia has always boasted of having a strong educational system back in the Soviet Days, and the State Medical University in Yerevan is still considered a highly competitive and strong university. The cost of medical services in Armenia are likely to be lower than most countries, and considering the fact that the quality is actually quite good, it’s no wonder that many members of the Diaspora decide to get certain procedures done in Armenia rather than their countries of residence. Yay boasting rights! So here’s a list of what we do best.

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Job Hunting in Armenia

IMG_2163890697914

Job hunting is a painful task no matter where you live, and I’m well aware that the situation has been getting progressively worse as the years go on. Every country has been affected by the economic crises, the rising costs of living, and the lousy job market. But some of the stories that you hear about job hunting in Armenia are borderline crazy. No, like really crazy. When my classmates and I had freshly graduated and were on the prowl for new employment opportunities, we faced some of the most RIDICULOUS challenges imaginable. Whip out the popcorn, this will be fun. [100% based on true stories, I kid you not].

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Հայկական դեմքեր – Armenian Faces

© Apaven Stepanyan

[disclaimer: this post is just for fun, please approach with a sense of humor, it is not meant to offend anyone]. We all remember how it was growing up, especially in high school, when people associate themselves with this or that “clique.” Back in the day it was simple to form a map of the cliques according to the seating arrangements at a high school cafeteria (Jocks here, Punks there, Emos in that section, Honor Roll Students over there, etc.) After a while living in Armenia I came to realize that people here can also be generally categorized into several distinct cliques (there are of course exceptions but bear with me on this). In fact I could picture the city of Yerevan as being one big high school cafeteria. In Armenian there is the multi-meaning phrase of դեմք ես or տիպ ես  which literally translates into “you’re a face” or “you’re a type” but really it means is, “you’re something else.” This post will describe some of the Armenian դեմքեր – characters. Continue reading

How Surb Sargis Outsmarts Valentine’s Day

secret cam 1 Armenians are romantic. For a realist like me, sometimes it’s kind of nauseating. Strong believers of love at first sight. Poems written to sweep their beloved off their feet. Dates including chatting over tea and cake at any of the number of cafes in Yerevan then taking a stroll in the park, with flowers, balloons and cotton candy. Funnily enough, if you ask a local Armenian if they are romantic, they’d never admit it, nor do they think that their peers are. But having grown up in the world of Massholes, my perspective begs to differ. Welcome to the world of Armenian romance. Stay in Armenia long enough and it WILL rub off on you, and your initial reactions of eye-rolling will become reactions of “awwww.” I should know. Continue reading