Moved from Sharjah, UAE in 2008
‘’The decision of moving here was very abrupt. My dad called a family meeting and told us: “We’re either moving to Syria or Armenia. Make your choice”. We all picked Armenia''.
Annie Akkam was born in Sharjah, UAE and lived there for 12 years. Her first visit to Armenia was in 2007 during her summer vacation for 2 weeks. ‘’The first place we visited was the Grand Candy Ponchikanots. I was not disappointed at all. It tasted exactly how they described it: heaven in a donut. I remember going to get another one, and the cashier spoke to me in Eastern Armenian and used some Russian words. I stood in front of her like an idiot saying “what, inch, huh?”, until my cousin came to my rescue’’.
As a naive preteen girl, Annie liked Armenia as all they did was travel around the country, eat good food, have fun with no responsibilities whatsoever.
‘’You don’t think about your duties when you’re travelling, you’re on a break. You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself. Living here, on the other hand, can be stressful. Actually, living anywhere is stressful, because you have to take care of yourself and your family’’.
Annie’s parents are Syrian-Armenians, who moved to UAE after getting married. She attended Rosary school of Sharjah and on weekends, she used to take part in the activities of the Armenian community.
‘’We used to attend church and school, which was once a week. Although my regular school had some Armenian students, many others gathered on that one day of the week and spent it with our very small community. I was a very diligent and hardworking student, but I considered the Armenian school more of a past time activity’’.
It was 2008, when Annie and her family moved here.
‘’Armenia in 2008 was a completely different country. We still have a long way to go though. Although it would be nicer to rush the process, usually no good comes out of doing something quickly. We have to pay attention to all the steps we take. We’re in a much better place than we were 9 years ago. But we should be open to change.
There are things we don’t talk about. Sometimes, people don’t see the line between being traditional and refusing to move forward. We can easily be both. Personally, I don’t think the mentality would go through a lot of changes in the next 20 years, but I think economically Armenia will be in a good place’’.
Tips from Annie:
-Apply for a job before moving. So once you have a job and a circle of friends, you’ll have people to help you with other issues.
-Zatar Pizza is where you go for a quick lunch
-Free open air concerts are very common in Armenia. Take your chance!
-Know when Vartavar is taking place, so you’d be prepared.
-Your first 2 months here are going to be full of meeting new people and going to new places. Once that phase is over, you’re going to feel less excited because you won’t be going out as much. You get settled in, make connections.
-At some point, you’ll have to deal with some paperwork. Honestly, if you survive your visit to OVIR, you can survive anything.
Annie's secret places: (Not anymore)
-Children’s railway (specially in autumn)