AYF Internship 2016: My First Thoughts and Impressions
By U. Rachael Minassian
Coming to Hayasdan for the first time in my life, I really didn’t know what to expect at all. People had given me various tips, but I ultimately arrived at Zvartnots Airport on June 12 without a clue. Stepping off the airplane and into a world of Armenian people like myself was so surreal. I definitely went through a bit of culture shock at first, but that night I didn’t stop smiling or turning to my fellow intern and friend Niree, who I had been traveling with, and saying “Hayasdaneen mechenk!”
Since then, I have learned so much about Armenia. One of the things I have noticed about our beautiful homeland is the friendliness and willingness of the people to go out of their way to help you. My Armenian isn’t the strongest, but many of the waiters at restaurants and people on the street will smile and kindly help me if I’m struggling to remember a word or finish a sentence. A lot of them want to practice their English as much as I want to practice my Armenian too! Everyone is so hospitable as well; our landlord has had us over to his house for dinner and apricot-picking, and all the people I’ve met here have pointed out the best restaurants, hang-out spots, etc. In the village of Garni, a woman who was picking cherries from her tree ripped off a few branches and gave them to us to take on the road, and they were the best cherries I’ve ever had.
I’ve also learned that jaywalking here might get you killed, people will stare if you wear shorts, the food is ridiculously cheap, goat cheese is used often and not to be trusted, and it is not uncommon for entire families to be out very late at night! Most importantly, I have learned that there is no substitute for the astounding views provided by Armenia’s historic sites—Garni, Geghard, Etchmiadzin, and Sardarabad took my breath away. All in all, Armenia is so much more than I could’ve ever imagined.