My Way Home

22.04.2024
Armenian by Choice
I Always Say "Give Armenia Seven Days"
I Always Say "Give Armenia Seven Days"
 
Mathew Zein’s relocation to Armenia with his family is a tale not just of moving to a new country but of finding a place that resonated as home after years of global exploration. Arriving in Armenia with his wife in April 2017, Mathew found what had been elusive elsewhere: a sense of belonging. “Stepping foot in Yerevan, something clicked – a feeling that this was it,” Mathew recounts. Their search for a place that offered a harmonious blend of social conservatism and freedom, coupled with the tangible benefits of affordability and delightful weather, ended in Armenia. This country wasn’t just another stop in their adventures; it quickly became a chosen setting for starting a family, marking a significant transition from a decade-long nomadic life to settling down.
 
 
It was here, amid the rolling hills and vibrant culture of Armenia, that Mathew and his wife made the profound decision to grow their family. “After ten years of marriage, it was in Armenia that we decided it was time to have a baby, and that’s what happened,” Mathew shares, highlighting the country not only as a place of personal and professional growth but also as the nurturing ground for their next big life chapter.
 

Professional Integration and Cultural Nuances

 
Delving into the working culture in Armenia, Mathew dispels common misconceptions about working in a new country. His transition from exclusively working with American clients to building a network within the Armenian professional community was seamless, challenging the notion that cultural and business practices would differ vastly. Mathew emphasizes the universality of professionalism, noting that the Armenian business environment mirrors the standards in the States and Europe. “There’s the misconception about lower pay in Armenia compared to the US. While pricing your services based on the market is logical, I’ve never encountered companies unwilling to pay fair value for quality work,” he explains.
 
 
His advice to those curious about working with Armenian businesses is straightforward and devoid of mystique: reach out and connect as you would anywhere else. Mathew’s observations about the cultural nuances, like the significance of communal kitchens in tech companies, underscore a deeper appreciation for the quality of life and community, reflecting an environment that values relationship-building alongside professionalism.
 
Mathew’s adaptation to life in Armenia highlights the duality of challenges and opportunities. He shares insights into the everyday adjustments required to integrate into Armenian society, from shopping at local markets to navigating daily life without speaking Armenian fluently. These experiences, rather than deterring, enriched his understanding and connection to the country. “My friend Stefan, an Austrian living in Armenia with his family, always says, ‘In Armenia, you will find a reason for living.’ His words ring true,” Mathew reflects, emphasizing the unique opportunities Armenia presents for expats to contribute to its growth and actively engage with the community.
 
Interactions with locals within professional settings and daily life have been overwhelmingly positive, countering narratives that might suggest otherwise. “Adapting to life in Armenia wasn’t difficult. Sure, learning our way around took a year or so. But certain changes become important markers of settling down, helping you shed the ‘tourist’ skin and feel like you belong. You establish a small community around you, fostering regular interactions that integrate you into the social fabric,” he says.
 

Challenges and Rewards of Life in Armenia

 
Mathew’s experiences underscore a sense of community and trust, extending beyond mere business transactions to genuine friendships and connections. This aspect of Armenian society facilitated his transition and deepened his attachment to the country.
 
 
Among the most appealing aspects of life in Armenia, Mathew highlights the genuine work-life balance achievable in this landscape. The country’s size belies its vast array of experiences, from Yerevan’s vibrant café culture to its natural surroundings’ tranquil beauty, offering an accessible escape from work pressures; for remote workers like Mathew, Armenia stands out as an ideal destination where professional ambitions and personal fulfillment coexist harmoniously.
 
Yet, Mathew is candid about the challenges, too, particularly in sectors like healthcare and education outside Yerevan. Mathew acknowledges the challenges not as deterrents but as part of Armenia’s evolving narrative, one that is gradually improving through concerted efforts by the government and community initiatives.
 
Mathew’s journey to Armenia is one where the initial allure of the country’s benefits evolved into a deep-seated appreciation for its culture, community, and potential. His advice to others considering a move is to embrace Armenia with an open heart and mind, allowing the country to reveal its depth and beauty.
 
 
“While I encourage anyone considering Armenia to be wary of negativity in the media, I urge them to take the leap and experience it firsthand. I always say: ‘Give Armenia seven days,’ and leave the rest for the country to cast its spell on you and have you under its charm. Through Mathew’s story, we see a vivid portrait of Armenia as a place to live and thrive, a testament to the enduring appeal of this ancient but ever-evolving land.

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