It’s a typical summer day in Yerevan – hot, lively and busy. I look at my phone and open Whatsapp. As expected, my group chats with diasporans from Birthright Armenia and other friends I’ve made in the city are overflowing with messages of plans and photos of everyone’s adventures. Who to see? Where to go? So many options. Not to mention, it’s a weekday but that doesn’t really matter when you’re in your homeland in the summer and around people in their 20s who are ready to make the most out of it. What happens next is a feeling of FOMO. Realizing if you don’t go out and mingle, you’re missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! No such thing as being tired, you push through it. A few hours of sleep is worth having an unforgettable night with people who look like you, understand your family experience, and are from parts of the world you didn’t even know Armenians exist. Then you think the next morning’s excursion is doable, I’ll sleep on the bus.
But, I quickly realized that with managing nightlife, excursions, dinners with friends, a 30-hour volunteer schedule, and my own research involving multiple interviews a week, I need to pause and find a balance…this is where I am now. Still very much figuring it out. But here are some tips to do everything you want while maintaining energy.
There is something happening every day and night but at some point, it’s best to pick what interests you most. At times, it’s impossible to do all the events in one day. One major realization I had is a pretty simple one: if I don’t do something one day, I have about 150 other days when I can (with 5 more months left here in Yerevan). So, while it can be really difficult (I know), you don’t always have to say “yes.”
2. Utilize your calendar
It’s hard to remember when there is a havak, a film screening, a brunch or in my case, an interview with a research participant. It would be awesome if I had the power to store all of this in my brain but unfortunately, after a few days of trying I’ve given up and befriended a helper, Outlook Calendar. We’re getting along pretty well so far.
3. Pick a “me” day during the week
The best way to rejuvenate is to have a personal, “self-care” day dedicated to relaxing, catching up on some Netflix shows, buying groceries, and laying low. It’s nice to pick one day of the week where you will do this and stick to it. Not only is it beneficial to recharge your social battery but there is something special (romantic, even) about having solitude in this city. Taking a book to Lover’s Park and having a day alone. Getting a cup of coffee at Mirzoyan Library while finishing up some work. Exploring greats museum like Pajaranov’s. Or, having a shopping day at Yerevan City Mall or Dalma Mall. You can connect to the city on your own time and agenda.
4. Lastly, create a routine
One of the hardest things for me was having a routine like I did back home. Nothing was planned in my daily schedule which at times can feel overwhelming. Once I got the hang of life around here (about 2 weeks in), I was able to come up with somewhat of a consistent weekly plan. For instance, you can find the niche time to wake up and give yourself a moment every morning to soak it all in – you live in Yerevan! Make sure to have a small breakfast with some soorj and local goods like khachapuri or fresh fruit from a local market. Have an efficient workday at the placement organization and make connections, go on lunches with your colleagues, and ask questions. And then schedule some hangouts in the evening with friends. You got this!
Make sure to explore Inna's article on street art in Yerevan.
Photo Credits: Inna Mirzoyan (2021)