Wednesday, June 30, 2010

American Habits meet Armenian Standards

Over the first few weeks of spending time in Yerevan my friends and I have realized a bunch of differences between the Armenian culture and the Armenian-American culture. These differences are not all bad things but all of them are interesting in one way or another. One of the very first things I noticed was different between the two cultures was right when we arrived to Yerevan and I met my family that was at the airport to welcome me to their country. In Los Angeles when an Armenian person greets another Armenian it is a tradition to kiss each-other on both cheeks. In Armenia they only kiss an one cheek. That is neither a bad thing or a good thing but for me even something small like that was interesting to be different between the two cultures. The next difference between the two cultures that I was informed about by my cousins was actually quite humorous for me at first. They told me that in Armenia men should always be cleanly shaved and should not have facial hair. They told me that I should shave or else local people would have the "wrong thoughts" about me. At first I thought they were joking but as more and more of them told me I just kept replying that I could honestly care less if people in Armenia judged me because of my facial hair.
After thinking about it I realized how much the Armenian culture is still part of the "old world" and it keeps its traditions. These traditions that have been kept have good and bad things in it. One of my favorite things about the traditions kept by the Armenian culture is how parents teach their kids proper respect. They teach the guys to look after the girls (some times a little too much) and they also teach the guys how to properly treat a lady. This once again is one of my favorite things about the Armenian culture. Some of the bad things that I dont really like about the traditions which keep Armenians in the "old world" is how men are superior over women. The idea that women should stay home, take care of the kids, cook and clean is still present in our culture. Even though women are going to school and working more than they ever have this gender discrimination is still present in our culture. I really love how this "gender discrimination" has inspired many women in Armenia to show the men that they can perform better in school and in the work place and I see this to be a very healthy competition.
Another "thing" that I have realized to be a bad part of the Armenian culture is how Armenians do not accept any change or differences. For example all men should wear long pants a nice shirt and even fancier shoes, no shorts are allowed even if it is over 38 degrees Celsius outside. The same goes for the women here. Girls either have to wear jean or they wear a long skirt, and always heals. Anything else and everyone automatically judges you to be "slutty"(in lack of better terms). This "Armo mentality" has even caused me to get into a few problems while I was here. During my last visit I almost got into a fight with 5 Armenian youngsters at Khor Virap because these youngsters were cussing at the girls because of the way they were dressed. Honestly for American-Armenian standards it was perfectly normal, but for Armenian standards it was something they would never see from local girls. The same thing happened this time but on a totally different level. Last week I was walking with a group of my younger friends from Los Angeles that were visiting Armenia as their senior class field trip. On the way from Opera Club to Marriott while passing through Opera Square a few local Armenians cussed out the girls on what they were wearing. This once again was getting out of hand and as soon as the guys and I started to yell at the local youngsters, the police came and split everything up. Other than being quite hostile with us, within 10 minutes everything was settled all the problems were solved and they send us on our way. But why did this even need to happen in the first place? Why aren't Armenian people accepting to see any difference in people everyday. Why do I need to get into problems with local youngsters just because American-Armenian standards dont meet local standards. These are all things that Armenians have to get used to and accept if they plan on progressing as a country. But no matter what Armenia is still my homeland and I will love it no matter the little problems that need to be fixed.


  1. Dear ARAM HOPAR,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I can recognize some typical Armenian elements in your story. Currently, I'm writing a paper for Cross Culture Management, regarding the Armenian culture, and I'm very interested in your perspective and stories. I really hope you'll be interested to help me.

    I do not know how to contact you, but I hope you will post a responds.

    Yours truly,

  2. Hi Hasmik,

    Im glad you enjoyed my blog article and would be more than happy to help you out with this paper. I think the best way you can contact me is through email. My email is

    Aram a.k.a ARAM HOPAR