My Story



Home University: UCLA
Studied at AUA in: Summer 2016
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Why did you want to study abroad?
Although I had traveled to a number of places previously, I had gotten to the point in my life where I felt really compelled to broaden my horizons and experience a different way of living. I studied anthropology at UCLA, and there was such a big emphasis on trying to move past the thoughts and beliefs that you deem "normal." Studying abroad was one of the ways that I felt I could take a step towards this.

How did you find out about AUA as a study abroad destination?
I found out about AUA through one of my professors, Dr. Anahid Keshishian. I was taking one of her Armenian language classes at UCLA, and she mentioned that she would be teaching at AUA the following summer. I asked her for more information on the program, and the rest is history!

Why did you choose AUA to study abroad?
My dad, who immigrated to America with much of our family in the 1980s and 1990s, would always tell me and my sister stories about growing up in Armenia. We had always talked about visiting Armenia one day, so it seemed like the perfect choice for me. Plus, around the time that I attended AUA, I had also travelled to a number of other countries, so it only made sense to also spend time in Armenia, where much of my culture is rooted.

What were the challenges of studying abroad at AUA?
My biggest challenge, by far, was that my Armenian language skills were far from fluent, so it was a bit difficult to navigate around the country at first. I was used to speaking (and understanding) a less "correct" style of Armenian, so when I encountered the much more formal Armenian used in Armenia, it was definitely something I had to get used to. Although this challenge was not such a big issue at AUA, where everyone speaks English, I did struggle a bit to order at cafes, ask people comprehensible questions, etc. I do think that people found my less-than-stellar Armenian kind of charming, and they made me feel very welcomed. After a while, I adapted, and my language skills improved a lot.

Did the experience change your professional or academic goals?
I would say that the experience definitely changed my academic outcomes, as I later found out. In my final year of college, I learned that a professor at UCLA had nominated me for Phi Beta Kappa, America's most prestigious honor society. Without a doubt, the language credits I earned at AUA played a role in my eligibility to join PBK.

Did you have any concerns about financing study abroad? How did you overcome them?
I was a bit concerned that spending six weeks in Armenia would be quite expensive. It actually didn't end up being as much money as I thought.

What were some of the highlights of your time at AUA?
I would definitely point to all of the trips that we took through the Discover Armenia Educational tours, my favorite being our visit to Tatev. After a long drive and an incredible aerial tram ride, the feeling of setting foot on such a historic site was unbelievable. The architecture was beautiful, the view breathtaking. I will never forget my time there. I have photos of my time in Armenia that I still cherish and view regularly, even years later.

What advice do you have for students interested in studying at AUA?
I would encourage anyone interested in studying at AUA to just take the plunge! Anyone, regardless of their background or language skills, can have a life-changing experience in Armenia. It's a culturally rich (and safe!) country with plenty to offer. And I would wager that you will be wholeheartedly welcomed.

Christina completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology at UCLA, and is currently doing research and preparing to apply to graduate school to study psychology. Her goals for the future are to practice psychology in a clinical setting, and to become a professor.

Interested in her experience? Shoot her an email at
[email protected]