A Travellerspoint blog

Advice for future interns

It all happened so quickly! The internship, excursions, meetings, seminars, concerts, language classes, shawurmas, peach iced teas, cafes, and parties have all winded down. We had a farewell outing for the first two interns to leave - Liz and Kat - at a cafe by the Opera.

My roomie and BFIY ("best friend in Yerevan") shared a heartfelt moment to say our goodbyes.
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There was lots of love going around. We were blessed with a tightly knit group and much devotion especially among us girls. Our reunion has already been planned!
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Arpi had asked me to write a post giving advice for future interns. I tried to think of what I would have wanted to know at the beginning of this adventure, and what I really wanted was a knowledge of WiFi hotspots around Yerevan. When I arrived, I didn't know any WiFi locations and it was pretty depressing. Over time, some hotspots were discovered, much to my joy. While this is not really advice, I hope this list will make it a little easier for future interns to transition to living in Yerevan.

Free WiFi locations
Arax Lounge
Artbridge Cafe and Bookstore
Marriott Hotel
Yum Yum Donuts
Fashion Cafe (next to Yum Yum Donuts)
Congress Hotel
Cactus Mexican Restaurant
Karabi Lich (Swan Lake) outdoor cafe by Opera
Astral outdoor cafe by Opera
Cafe Rich outdoor cafe by Opera
Jazzve Cafe
KFC
Thomas Twinings Tea House
Camelot Restaurant

This is certainly not a complete list. There are many more locations in Yerevan and more will be added before the interns arrive next summer, but it's a good place to start.

Posted by NatalieSLC 12:39 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

World hold on

When someone like Bob Sinclair comes to Yerevan, the whole city knows. Ever since I arrived here I've been seeing fliers everywhere advertising his concert. Admittedly, I didn't know his name but immediately recognized his most famous song "World Hold On" once I heard it. Someone described the concert as "the biggest thing happening in Yerevan all year." I don't know to what extent that's true, but the interns and volunteers were certainly excited and had decided to attend weeks ago. The day arrived, and we headed to Lover's Park to join the crowds gathered for the show.
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There were several openings acts. We missed Reincarnation! But we caught The Beautified Project...
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and DJ Vaksina...
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and Armenoids. The front man of the group (in red) is my coworker at ACNIS! Me and the other ACNIS-ites thought it was pretty cool to tell everyone, "We work with that guy!" It garnered us a fair amount of street cred.
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Then came the man we'd been waiting for (all year, perhaps?). Bob Sinclair turned up on stage, and despite the poor sound system at the beginning, the crowd was thrilled! The entire park was packed with dancing and singing people, enthusiastic to be in his gloriously cool presence. That included us interns. We were hoping to absorb some of his excellence so we pushed out way to the very front of the crowd. Needless to say, we had some pretty great views!
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Bob Sinclair played some old stuff, but also sprinkled in newer compositions.
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Everyone seemed to know the words to his songs and shouted them back as they were played. Then came the one we were all waiting for - "World Hold On"!
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The crowd's energy intensified and anyone who wasn't already on his/her feet sprung up! The concert continued that way late into the night, with what seemed like all of Yerevan's under-40 population in attendance.

Posted by NatalieSLC 04:46 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Jammin' with the chef

If AAA interns and Birth Right volunteers were ever strapped for cash, we could start a band to make money. The musical talents were revealed one night when we were trying to decide where to eat dinner. Someone recommended an inconspicuous little place called Chez Garo so we headed towards the restaurant on Pushkin Street. After an ordinary meal of regular Armenian fare, someone sat down at the old out-of-tune piano in the corner to play a few notes, and that was the beginning of our impromptu jam session.

The restaurant owner - Chez Garo himself - encouraged us to keep playing and even the other patrons joined in. We gathered around the piano and one after another played music while the rest sang and clapped along. We had traditional Armenian songs, jazz, pop, classical, and everything in between. Among the pianists were Gapo, Liz, Armen, and me. Kathryn captured some great melodious moments on video that I've been trying to upload (with the slow Internet connection, it tells me it's going to take 5 hours to complete a 30 second vid).

We were made to feel very much at home, as if we had come to a close friend's house to hang out and not as customers at a diner. The familiarity with which we were treated was very endearing and we became fast friends with Chez Garo and his pals. The lively spontaneous couple of hours around that piano could not have been more memorable if they were planned.

Ever since that first night, we've been back two more times to make ourselves at home and hang out around the piano. Here are some pictures from the various visits.

Gapo at the piano
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Marianna with Chez Garo and his friends
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Liz playing for us
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At dinner with the gang and Chez Garo's friends
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Posted by NatalieSLC 00:25 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Reincarnation in concert

One of my favorite things in Yerevan is a reggae/ska band named Reincarnation (I have referred to them by their Russian name Reincarnacya before). Ever since I first heard their peppy trumpet-laden song “Eli Lav A,” I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. And the fact that it’s one of the most ubiquitous songs of the moment doesn’t help either. The chorus is made up of the words lav a repeated over and over. There was a point when anytime we interns heard someone say lav a we would break into singing “lav a, lav a, lav a, lav a….” It also works with words that are similar to lav a, like lavash. Somehow, it just doesn’t get old.

Large crowds had gathered at the Moscow Theater to see Reincarnation live with the rock group Bambir. A great aspects of Salt Lake City (my home) in the summer is its Twilight Concert Series featuring some impressive performers. Since I can't attend this summer, it was nice to have a similar gathering in Yerevan take its place.
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I had seen them perform before but this concert was especially fun because it was outdoors and during the Golden Apricot Film Festival.
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Kathryn recorded footage of them playing their signature song while Sofia, Liz, and I danced in the crowd. Here’s the video. And here we are with Reincarnation in the background.
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When the more rock-intensive Bambir came on to play, the audience took on a transformation unlike anything I had seen thus far in Yerevan. Before I go on, let me explain that Yerevan is very homogenous city. Whereas in places like America and London it’s cool to be different and a trendsetter, in Yerevan most people follow the same styles. However, the people in this crowd were different! They would probably be described as “emo” with their distinct fashion and hair styles. I loved seeing a whole new group exhibiting unique looks and attitudes. Kids clad in skinny jeans and black attire had come out to rock. Where these people are at any other time, I don’t know. But for one night, it was refreshing to see a diverse side to Yerevan.

Posted by NatalieSLC 06:13 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Vardavar in Yerevan

This entry has no pictures. It’s about Vardavar, the one day I felt it prudent to leave the camera at home. Read on and you will concur.

During Vardavar, Armenians are given license to splash, squirt, and otherwise drench each other with water. Everyone on the streets is fair game, so why would anyone be so silly as to leave their house that day, right? To splash around and make sure everyone else gets wet! Well, the reason I had to leave the house was to meet the other interns to go to Water World. Unfortunately I didn't have time to play and participate in the water games.

We have a lot of kids in our yard, so I strategically redirected my route to avoid their clusters. I stealthily took to the streets and immediately realized I had to avoid the little demon kids with buckets. They knew right away we were Americans and felt compelled to initiate us. Also, they hate the sight of anything dry. All I had in my defense was a little water pistol. Despite its size though, I think its neon hues were intimidating to the kids who often hesitated to attack once I pulled it out.

Kathryn said I was being “paranoid” as we walked down Mashtots Street because I was frantically looking over my shoulder. “You’re right,” I thought, since I saw a couple of grannies walking by untouched by water. There was another young girl who passed by confidently. “I’m going to be fine,” was my last naive thought. Just then, the unthreatening boys who nonchalantly stood by became instantly possessed and attacked us with water! “NOOOOOOOO,” we yelled and took off running. Fortunately, they weren’t going to stray too far from the hose, their main water supply, so we got away.

Okay, people, we’re wet. You got us. However, that was not enough for them. Assaults also took place all down Amiryan, including buckets of water from apartment balconies above. A taxi driver even stopped to let us get away by running into the street. Contently unsoaked individuals smiled at us from their dry storefronts. If only I didn’t have somewhere to be, I would do a much better job defending myself. I’m sure I would even instigate attacks. Buckets, bottles, super soakers would all be employed. I love this holiday! Those kids on the street were just lucky I had prior engagements.

I arrived at the destination resembling the swamp thing: sopping clothes hanging heavy, hair stuck to the side of my face, leaving a trail of puddles.

Posted by NatalieSLC 05:38 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (4)

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