My Way Home
21.08.2015Armenian by Birth
| From Honolulu, USA | Moved in 2011
Armen Martirosian, an Armenian-American, has been living in Armenia since November 2010. Raised in Los Angeles and Hawaii, he studied different branches of medicine such as biology and oncology, but his main interest was sonography, which is what he has practiced for the six years.
“I was born in Yerevan, but I moved at a very young age. It was only in 2008 that I returned here for a very short time. I stayed in Yerevan for only 10 days but I adored it so much I wanted to explore more. Armenians were very friendly, their lifestyle was fascinating. I visited some of the villages and loved their homemade food. I visited Karabakh and the nature was breathtaking. Everything left such an impression that I felt obligated to come back. And so I did. In the summer of 2009, I came back for 2 weeks. That time I spent my time mostly with youngsters because my previous visit was with my father. If my first visit was impressive, this time around it was much better: I did more activities, went hiking, and all this started to add up, and I started to consider living here.”
A few months later, in November 2010, he came to Armenia with the intention of studying medicine. Since sonography was not considered as medical job in America, he thought that he would work as a doctor in Armenia. He scouted the scene until he found out it was possible and he finally made the decision to move to his fatherland. At first he studied at Mkhitar Heratsi State University, and later, at Yerevan Medical Institute.
“There is a big difference between the USA and Armenia. The educational system is different, the students are different, and the scholars are different. The quality of the education is different, too. For example, the professors in the USA have their own occupations, but they lecture too in Armenia, professors’ lecture for the first two years and then you study with practicing doctors. There are financial differences too, and the condition of the hospitals is also different. My first week at the university was very difficult, I didn’t understand the Armenian quite well, but I adapted pretty quickly. I learned from them and they learned from me and we were all starting to understand each other. As for the lecturers, when they found out that they had an American student, their views became relatively eminent and higher, and I felt it was my duty to live up to their expectations. I didn’t want them to treat me well for being an American, I wanted to be treated well for being a good student.”
Life in Armenia was pretty normal, he made friends quickly, he enjoyed his time, but there was the occasional trickery where merchants would sell their products for higher prices thinking he’s a rich tourist. In general it was satisfactory and simple, though sometimes, he couldn’t comprehend the mentality of Armenians.
Six months later he shipped his car and he finally understood that all the Armenian drivers were like him: restless and impatient. He enjoyed that about driving in Armenia, he knew what the driver was thinking and he would drive according to that. He wouldn’t be able to drive the same way if he was in Georgia, as he didn’t know the way people thought, and so he compared the way people drove with the way people lived.
As for work, he did small jobs: he was still in university and there were only limited amount of things he could have done. He also enjoyed tourism and loved to explore historical Armenia, finding the rich history of Armenia alluring. He frequently visited the archaeological sites and he thought he could bring tourists with him to enjoy sightseeing as much as he did.
The main source of discomfort for Armen was the bureaucracy. Most of the simple things that could have been done in no time, such as shipping his car, caused a lot of irritation until it was all done.
“The bureaucratic process can be easily fixed, or not fixed, but make it smoother, if only more technology was involved, if the people were more humane to each other. The mentality is still stuck in the Soviet Union. For instance, in the US, if the person wanted the process to be faster, they would try their best to fasten it. But here, it was as if they would complicate it on purpose. Though there is much improvement now, but there is still a long way to go. I don’t want people to think that I am their savior, but I think that the slightest kind action you show is counted. I think that if I present myself as a good example, maybe not the first, nor second, nor third, but maybe the rest would see it and take it into account.”
As for his education, Armen thinks that he should still continue studying abroad. Education is very important to him, and medicine isn’t developed in Armenia as it is in other countries. He wishes to learn from different countries and introduce it to Armenia.
“Though I see myself in Armenia eventually, I also see myself collecting ideas from different places and familiarizing others with it. I want my career to be more effective and practical, which is why I want to continue studying elsewhere. I imagine I would be able to finish doing so in 5 years. I want my future to live here, safe and sound, unlike the violence that occurs in USA. I want my family to be in a reliable and secure environment, and that is only possible in my fatherland. If you have the opportunity to visit Armenia, take it, make some time for it. You have to see it with your own eyes to truly comprehend. I live here now and there are still many things that I don’t fully understand, but I am slowly learning.”
Other than working in his field of specialty, he is also an anthropologist. Though it was only an interest for him and he didn’t have concrete qualifications, his hobby has now become another job for him.
“I want every single Armenian to come here and make their dreams come true. Since I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a doctor and an archaeologist. Maybe anthropology isn’t the same but it is similar and I love it. I am married now, my wife is an Armenian, and I already planted my seeds in my fatherland. I don’t think that going back to USA is the ultimate goal, because if I do, I know I am going to miss the barbeque, the kebab, the fresh tan, I am going to miss my surrounding, my friends. The ultimate goal is to establish residency in my fatherland.”
Conducted Annie Akkam, Boris Yatsenko
Edited Boris Yatsenko, William Bairamian