My Way Home
Unlocking Armenia: 8 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' Every Repat Should Know
Embarking on a journey to repatriate to Armenia is a momentous decision, filled with excitement, challenges, and endless possibilities. Whether you're contemplating the move or have recently arrived, navigating the intricacies of returning to your ancestral homeland can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. To help you along this transformative path, we've gathered invaluable insights from experienced repats who have paved the way before you.
From heartfelt advice to practical tips, this guide offers a vibrant tapestry of "dos" and "don'ts," bridging the gap between your aspirations and the reality of life in Armenia. Get ready to embrace your repatriation journey with confidence and flourish amidst the rich cultural tapestry of Armenia!
Embracing Differences in Armenia: Anya's Repatriation Journey from Los Angeles
DO - Have an open mind: Anya emphasizes the importance of having an open mind: "Things are undoubtedly going to be different than anything you expect, even if you've done your research. Recognize that all places have their own customs and rules, so be patient and open to different ways of doing things." By embracing this mindset, you'll be better prepared to adapt to the unique cultural landscape of Armenia and fully immerse yourself in its vibrant community.
DON'T - Assume anything: Anya, who moved here last year, shares a valuable piece of advice: "Don't assume anything, especially when it comes to official processes and paperwork. Your assumptions are based on where you're coming from, so things will likely be different." Instead, she suggests actively seeking clarity: "Always ask questions and make sure you have a clear understanding of whatever you're dealing with." This proactive approach will help you navigate the nuances of repatriation smoothly and ensure a successful transition.
Growing Gradually: Armenian Repatriation Insight from Raffi from Beirut
DO - Take it slow and grow gradually: Raffi moved from Beirut five years ago, advises taking a measured approach to repatriation: "Do take it slow and grow gradually. Don't rush into repatriation without truly understanding the reality on the ground; trust me, you don't want to end up frustrated because your expectations didn't match the actual experience. So, think with your brain first before letting your heart lead the way." By heeding Raffi's heartfelt advice, you can navigate the repatriation journey with a balanced perspective and increase the likelihood of a smoother transition.
DON'T - Don't think you know everything about Armenia: Raffi also reminds us not to assume complete knowledge about Armenia based solely on patriotism: "Being patriotic does not necessarily mean you know how the country works. You haven't lived here (or have only lived here for a short while), and things may not be exactly as you've envisioned." Embracing humility and remaining open-minded will enable you to appreciate the uniqueness of Armenia and approach your repatriation journey with a genuine desire to learn and adapt.
From Damascus to Yerevan: Sako Says Embrace the Language
DO - Speak Armenian as much as possible: Sako moved from Damascus in 2014. He emphasizes the significance of speaking Armenian: "Do speak Armenian as much as possible. Even if you're not confident in your language abilities, make the effort to communicate in Armenian with your peers and even strangers. People will appreciate the effort, and you will naturally improve your skills." Speaking the language is vital for integration into Armenian society, just as it is in any other country. Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language, and you'll find yourself becoming more connected to the vibrant fabric of Armenia.
DON'T - Let people take advantage of you: Sako sheds light on an important aspect: "Don't let people take advantage of you. There exists some stigma, as some assume that Diasporan Armenians or recent repats are easily taken advantage of. While that's not universally true, instances may occur, as in any other place. If you feel you're being treated unjustly or taken advantage of, do speak up (politely, of course!) and assert that you should be treated as equals." It's essential to stand up for yourself respectfully if you encounter such situations and establish a foundation of mutual respect and equality.
High Standards, Brighter Future: Bostonian Araz's Path to Progress in Armenia
DO - Speak up! Araz encourages active participation: "Do speak up! Living in Yerevan, whenever I see something that should be taken care of by the municipality, I make it a point to write to them." Araz highlights the convenience of the user-friendly portal on the Yerevan website, which facilitates voicing concerns, filing complaints, or asking questions. The responsiveness of the municipality makes it a valuable channel for effecting change and improving the city's infrastructure. By engaging with the system, you contribute to the betterment of your surroundings and the community at large.
DON'T - Lower your standards: Araz emphasizes the importance of maintaining high standards: "Don't lower your standards. While it's advisable not to come in with rigid expectations, it's also crucial not to give Armenia a 'free pass' when something is not right or how it should be." As repatriates, we may not possess complete knowledge, but it's vital to desire the best for our country. Araz encourages us to strive to improve Armenia, actively seeking progress and working towards a brighter future.
Embracing Identity: Raffi's Montrealer Insights on Repatriation
DO - Change what you can and accept what you can’t: According to Raffi, Armenia is an interesting place that can be both strangely familiar to repats and uncomfortably different in ways Diaspora-Armenians may not expect from their homeland. The first step in this cultural adaptation is identifying how moral benchmarks can or can’t be universally applied to various experiences one encounters here. “It’s worth asking, ‘is this flatly wrong? Or is it just the way they do things here?’ The second question to ask, is ‘Is this a hill worth dying on? In other words, is it worth your energy to try to rectify every cringe-inducing issue you face in your life here, or could you live with just letting it slide?” says Raffi. According to the former Montrealer, Armenia can be an attack on the senses: “Sometimes it’s worth picking our battles because otherwise…let me give you the number for a good cardiologist.”
DON’T - Assimilate. Integrate instead! A big philosophical question that repatriating diaspora Armenians likely ask themselves, (whether they’re aware of it or not), is how to re-learn being Armenian in Armenia. Is the goal to become indistinguishable from the locally-grown compatriots, or to cling onto the identitarian mechanisms developed through generations of Armenian life in the Diaspora? Yet one mustn’t be so dramatic. “Countries which absorb new arrivals–whether get are of the same ethnicity or not–always benefit from the importation of new ideas, traditions, and mindsets, while said new arrivals also have a lot to reabsorb. Armenia and her diaspora are two piece of a puzzle; when they come together, they become whole,” explains Raffi. “So yes, learn the local dialect of Armenian, merge the vision for your future with that of Armenia, but don’t change who you are.”
Stepping Out of Comfort Zones: Patil's Repatriation Experience from Los Angeles
DO - Get out of your comfort zone and make new friends: According to Patil, you need to step out of your comfort zone: "Make friends with new people, including locals." Patil highlights that many locals in Armenia speak multiple languages, including English, so one can overcome language barriers. She also mentions the abundance of clubs, activities, and interest-based groups that offer opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. With a welcoming community, exploring new social circles will enrich your repatriation experience.
DON'T - Feel the need to fight all stigmas: Patil acknowledges the evolving nature of Armenian society due to factors like repatriation, immigration, and social media influence. However, she suggests not feeling obligated to combat all stigmas. "There are certain unwritten rules and gender roles in Armenia that may differ from North America and Europe. Most of the time, people don't mean any harm by them," she explains. By being conscious of these cultural nuances, repats can navigate societal expectations while fostering understanding and dialogue.
Building Bridges with Locals: Nare's Shanghai to Yerevan Connection
DO - Spend time with locals: Nare encourages building connections with locals: "Do hang out more with locals than with repats. This will help locals broaden their thinking and help you know the real Armenia." Nare highlights the mutual benefits of locals and repatriates spending time together. By interacting and forming relationships, both newcomers and those born and raised in Armenia can gain a broader perspective and deeper understanding. Embracing these meaningful connections fosters cultural exchange and enhances the repatriation experience.
DON'T - Complain without taking action: Nare advises against simply complaining about the imperfections in Armenia: "Don't spend time and energy complaining about the many things that are not perfect in Armenia. Instead, try to be an example by changing them through your behavior and work ethic." According to her, as repatriates who have experienced alternatives, it's essential to lead by example. Nare emphasizes the importance of offering solutions and actively working towards improvement. By taking proactive steps, we can contribute to making Armenia a better place to live.
Seizing Opportunities: From San Francisco to Armenia
DO - Take the leap and seize the opportunity: Aram, who has lived in Armenia for over a decade, shares a personal story, recounting how his family missed out on a life-changing opportunity due to hesitation and external influences. "When I was a kid in Southern California, my dad got a job offer in Europe. We were all set to go. My sister and I were taking language lessons, and my parents had already rented a home. Then came all the noise from friends and family (myself included). In short, my dad turned down the offer, and we stayed. My family's biggest regret is we didn't take the opportunity." Aram emphasizes the importance of seizing the moment and not letting fear hold you back.
DON'T - Live with regret: Aram advises against living with regret: "It may or may not work for you, and if it doesn't, you can move back." He acknowledges the uncertainty that comes with any move, drawing upon his parents' experience when they moved to North America, but emphasizes the importance of embracing the journey and avoiding the lingering question of "what if." By embracing the opportunity and venturing into repatriation, individuals can eliminate the regret of never trying and find fulfillment in their decision, whether it leads to long-term success or becomes a valuable learning experience.
Embarking on a repatriation journey to Armenia is an exciting and transformative experience. By embracing open-mindedness, active participation, and genuine connections with locals, we can truly integrate into the vibrant fabric of Armenia. Let us embrace the challenges, cherish the cultural exchange, and together, shape a brighter future for our community and the beautiful nation we call home.