My name is Malachy Mitchnick and I am a rising Junior at Occidental College. My Majors, International Relations and Comparative Studies in Language and Culture, covers a variety of topics ranging from global politics to Linguistics. Over my first two years at college I developed an interest in the Middle East - specifically Iran. This is where my desire to learn Persian started but I did not have the opportunity to start learning the language until the last semester of my sophomore year. I knew I wanted a rigorous summer Persian program but I did not want to spend my vacation in a college classroom somewhere in the United States. I wanted a cultural experience, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to get real life exposure to what I was studying - Enter ASPIRANTUM.
I was nervous coming into the program; I knew that virtually all the other students were older and more experienced then me. I walked into class the first day, stacked my books neatly on the table, and tried to look as confident as I could. Luckily, none of the nerves nor faked confidence was necessary. Ani (our teacher) was not only helpful but one of those teachers that makes it impossible to be embarrassed in her class. Her materials, lesson plans, and attitude made it so that even though I was behind on the language skills I could keep up with the class. On top of this Khachik (the program director) was not only welcoming but accessible during my entire three week stay in Armenia - making me feel even more comfortable and relaxed in such a new setting. The class, homework, and tests were all rigorous and I had many moments of frustration and mental fatigue but, after the three weeks, I came away from the program ahead of where I hoped to be and with the confidence of a student who knows that no matter what, he can learn this language. This was yet another gift I got from ASPIRANTUM nothing felt rushed or incomprehensible. Between the teachers, curriculum, and accessibility of ASPIRANTUM staff I left the program not only with new language skills, but with the know how and the confidence to continue my studies outside of the class room.
For me the out of class experience ended up being just as important as the in class experience. Weekends were spent exploring the Armenian country side with all its stunning views, amazing foods, and important historical sights. In addition to the actual scenery traveling with the group became a source of great pleasure. Another thing I loved about this school was the degree of freedom each student got. You could live where you wanted and as long as you did good work you could spend your free time doing almost anything. I spent my free time exploring Yerevan's bustling nightlife and their vibrant food culture. I was able to explore the entire city without worry - both because of how safe it is and because of how cheap everything is! I even made it to Tbilisi on my last weekend! All in all I got more cultural experience then I could ever have imagined in my three weeks with ASPIRANTUM.
After being home a week and reflecting on my time in Armenia, I am truly happy that I went and grateful to all the people that made my experience possible. I, like many other students, put huge importance on free time. Between school and work we really do not have very much of it, and the time we do get generally wants to be spent with friends and loved ones. But, although this program is time consuming I feel like not a second was wasted. I am not only walking away from my program with greater knowledge and newfound appreciation for language, I am leaving Armenia with a whole knew understanding of the world and the people in it.
Interested? Check Upcoming Persian Language Courses!
Our courses are open to anyone with upper elementary or intermediate knowledge of the Persian language. The lectures are organized with the academic interests of the participants in mind to ensure that BA, MA, PhD students as well as post-docs and professors who work in Iranian Studies and relevant fields can benefit from it and learn Farsi at a rapid pace.Check Upcoming Courses