Moved in June, 2016 from USA, California
If you have an Armenian heritage, you always feel the obligation to preserve your identity, to take a responsibility for your actions, you think of what you will leave for your next generation and, most importantly, you work hard to create better Armenia. As a repat, you can almost change the whole spirit of life here and, probably, you’ve already done it, but what about expats? Why do they decide to live, work, have an impact and enjoy Armenia? What their Armenia looks like and should we be jealous of sharing?
Considering the fact, that we call expats ABC (Armenian By Choice), we automatically turn them to repats and sharing becomes a continuing process of unconditional love, care, support and understanding.
Let’s see what Andrew Molica’s Armenia looks like and find out about his love story with it.
Rima: Andrew, probably your most answered question during this whole time living in Armenia was ‘’Why?’’ Today, you are the only stereotype breaker here, so, once again, why Armenia?
Andrew: Well, actually, my most answered question is ‘’Are you married?’’ and only after this comes ‘’Why Armenia?’’. I was born and raised in USA. I graduated from UCLA, and this was the place where my love story began. Funny thing is that I started Armenian as a foreign language just to fulfil the requirement to graduate because it easily fit into my schedule, but I was tempted to drop it on the first day. However, my professor Anahid Keshishian convinced me to stay by telling me something really valuable, so I ended up taking the whole year. Then I just couldn’t stop. I started a research project about the linguistic landscape here in Armenia, and now I’m still here with no ticket back.
Rima: Tell us about your experience as an Armenian language student.
Andrew: The first day I walked into the class with no idea about Armenia. Anahid said “barev,” I looked around and no one looked like me. I couldn’t even imagine that studying Armenian can take me on path to Armenia. During one class we discussed stereotypes about Armenia and Armenians. For instance, we once did a presentation, and I, as the only non-Armenian, was dressed in black, head-to-toe, with a giant Khach on my neck, tons of hairspray on my hair, and was supposed to act like a “qyartu” Armenian man. We had a lot of fun. I learned about Armenian music through the language, which was one of my best experiences.
Rima: What was your first impression of Armenia? Did you have any expectations?
Andrew: Actually, when you haven’t been in Armenia, you hear people talking about it from different backgrounds and experiences, as some of them moved earlier, while others were third generation Armenians living in the US, so it’s kind of difficult to understand what Armenia is. They all have different perspectives. I decided, that it was time for me to come and see what Armenia was for myself. The goal was to come with no expectations, to not expect a single thing, and I’m so glad that I did it because this place is not any thing that anyone has told me, this is my Armenia and I made my home here.
Rima: What does your Armenia look like?
Andrew: I see Armenia as a unique place reflecting diverse lifestyles and levels of prosperity, with incredibly awesome nature, a unique culture and people. I really admire the fact that people here are family-oriented, they love to support each other, even neighbors, you know, sometimes they don’t like each other, but at the end of the day, whenever someone needs something, they support each other. I like how different it is here, when you can stay late at night on the weekday with your friends and go to work in the morning.
I used to spend a minimum of two hours on traffic-filled roads in the US, there was a lot of planning and stress. It’s not like that in Armenia. You don’t even try to plan your week, or even your day, because every day there is something unexpected. At first this was a frustrating adjustment, but now I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to let go and appreciate living in the moment. I’m surprised to see how many talented people live here, how much the IT sector is developed and how much potential this country has.
You asked me why Armenia, right? Now, I’m asking you, why not Armenia?