YEREVAN, Armenia – Summer 2015 was a quiet time at the American University of Armenia (AUA), with most students spending their vacation traveling, laying by the water, or hanging out with their friends. But for three undergraduate students from the U.S., it was a chance to visit Armenia, explore the country, and learn all about its history by enrolling in AUA’s Summer Program.
Adina Babaian, from Los Angeles, California, Tanya Koroyan, from San Francisco, California, and Jonah Torossian, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, spent their summer along with many AUA students taking ‘Global Perspectives and Site Stories: The Path of Armenia from the Past into the Future,’ a 5-week course taught by Dr. Gregory Areshian, a visiting professor from the University of California, Los Angeles and one of the leading archeologists who discovered the 5,500 year old shoe in Armenia’s Areni caves.
While it may seem unusual to choose a summer course over a day at the beach, this course was anything but typical. Once a week, the students took full-day excursions outside of the city, courtesy of the supplemental Discover Armenia Educational Tours. The excursions allowed the students to fully immerse themselves in Armenia’s evolution from ancient times to the present, and to really soak in the sights and sounds of the country as a whole. “You’re not just taking a regular summer course, especially with the Discover Armenia Educational Tours,” said Adina. “You get to see a lot more of Armenia. You get to see more sites and learn about them in greater detail. You become more integrated into Armenia and the Armenian community as a whole.”
“Being able to see everything that I’ve read about in books definitely gave me a greater appreciation for my historical roots,” said Jonah.
For Tanya, the possibility of traveling to Armenia for the first time and learning about her culture is what drew her to AUA. “I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to not only visit all the historical sites of Armenia but also learn about it through the weekly tours and through the course. My family was very excited when they learned that I was interested in signing up for this and they were very supportive.”
It was also the first time traveling to Armenia for Adina, who got the idea to come to AUA from her family. “My mother actually emailed me and decided that I should go to Armenia this summer. I’m very proud of being Armenian and I’m very culturally Armenian so I wanted to come but I was a little hesitant because I’m half Armenian and half Korean. I was worried there might be some animosity towards me being mixed, but overall everyone has been very warm and accepting.”
Jonah, who has visited Armenia once before, knew that he wanted to take advantage of everything the Summer Program had to offer. “I came specifically to study at AUA and see what it’s like here,” he said.
AUA’s Summer Program is perfect for those who wish to visit Armenia for the summer and also earn extra credits at their home university. Because AUA is a U.S.-accredited institution, students can easily transfer summer credits earned at AUA and apply them toward a degree at another institution. The process is smooth and simple, especially with help from the Office of Admissions. “The whole office and staff made me feel very welcome. This was my first trip abroad and I’ve never been this far from home, so all of the help with the planning and preparation was really appreciated. Every time I’d go in or stop by I always felt very welcome and I always knew that I could go there if I needed any assistance with anything,” said Tanya.
At the end of the five weeks, the students weren’t ready to leave their experience behind. “I loved our professor, Gregory Areshian. He’s an amazing professor and he normally teaches at UCLA and I feel very lucky that he was here this year,” said Adina. “I’m really just going to miss coming to AUA because I really like the people who work here.”
For more information on AUA’s Summer Program and Study Abroad options, visit http://admissions.aua.am/study-abroad-summer-programs/ or email SummerPrograms@aua.am.