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Armenia: Stories told by a foreigner

21:20, August 23

By Iga Kowalska

Armenia is not a popular destination in Poland. It is really hard to find a guidebook about this country. You can check some information on the Internet of course, but talking about Polish websites and books is not enough. There are some organizations in Poland, that care about Armenia or Caucasus in general, but the knowledge about it among young people is very poor.

Most of my friends were very surprised or even scared of my idea to come here. People often wrongly think that Armenia is a Muslim country, it can be dangerous and I should not go there alone. Ok, every country can be dangerous, but the more you know, the more you can be prepared for. And after my two weeks in Armenia, I would say that it is even a safer place than Poland.

Most of Polish people I know are not very interested in Armenia. I don't know why, because it is the most fascinating and surprising country I have ever been to (and I am traveling a lot). And it has actually longer Christian tradition than Poland! I just realized how such ignorant we are as a Catholic country!

What is the most surprising about Armenia for a Polish girl like me? People. They are so open, they are so open, that, I’m sure, some of my friends would run away. When somebody comes to talk to you on the street in Poland, it is usually someone who wants to sell you something or tell you about his religion. Here is completely different from my country, because people just want to know you, tell you their stories and hear yours. And this is the most beautiful thing I noticed here.

What else? Minibuses (marszrutki). They are so small and crowded, and there is no timetable! In Poland we always check the time of buses we want to go. But maybe the lack of timetable is the reason that a lot of people with whom I arranged the meeting were very, very late. I have already got used to it. To live in Armenia, I have to change my way of thinking, be very flexible and know that everything is changeable. Maybe it is not something bad, maybe you can enjoy life more, because it is slower and calmer?

In my opinion, the differences make traveling so excited and unexpected. This is one of the reasons I am here, and I am curious about everything, I want to experience real Armenia – a  small country with great tradition, religion and people with great hearts. I cannot wait to experience more.

Iga Kowalska, 21, is a volunteer who came to Armenia within the framework of AIESEC exchange program.


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