Karl Afrikian, AUA’s First Study Abroad Student, Returns to Armenia to Volunteer

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YERVAN, Armenia – Karl Afrikian, a senior at the University of the South in Tennessee, holds a very distinguished title – he was the American University of Armenia (AUA)’s very first study abroad student. Launched in 2014, Study Abroad AUA is designed for students who wish to study at AUA for one or two semesters. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Karl came to AUA in the Fall of 2014 and immediately fell in love with the country, prompting him to return less than a year later to spend his summer volunteering with Pink Armenia Human Rights Organization.

Armenia has always been a part of Karl’s plans. “It’s been a lifelong dream to come to Armenia, work, study, and just be here in general,” he said. “I study Russian at my university at home and I thought that would be an easy way to come to Armenia. I did some research and AUA really stood out because of its American accreditation and other factors. I ended up here and I loved it so much.”

AUA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and remains the only U.S.-accredited higher education institution in the region. For students who wish to study abroad, this means they can easily transfer their 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. “AUA was there for me, from my travel planning stages to my arrival and stay in Armenia, ensuring that everything ran smoothly,” said Karl. “All I had to do was fill out a ‘Send Transfer’ form to my university and then there it was on my transcript!”

karlStudy abroad students have the opportunity to get involved in all the same activities that matriculating students are involved in – from clubs, to university events, to guest speakers. “I had a blast. I got to perform in a play, which I haven’t done since the 5th grade. My classes were interesting and challenging at the same time. It was just a great experience. I got to meet and study alongside young Armenians, both locals and diasporans, and learn about Armenian culture from this part of the world, rather than just from America,” said Karl.

Since returning to Armenia, Karl has been doing research for Pink Armenia Human Rights Organization, providing him another opportunity to learn first-hand about the Armenian community and culture. He’s now considering his options for the future, which could include graduate school in Europe, or even at AUA. “AUA really got me acquainted with the idea that there’s a life outside of America, and I’m really glad that it did so,” he said. “There are a lot of paths I could take, but hopefully I’ll be somewhere in this neck of the woods.”

For anyone questioning whether or not they want to come to Armenia for a semester, or even a year, to study abroad at AUA, Karl’s advice is clear: “Just do it. It’s that simple. You’ll have a better study abroad experience than all of your friends.”

Applicants interested in Study Abroad AUA should email [email protected].


Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.


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