The Romanian chapter of my life | Ani Ghulinyan

by Nane Vardanyan

They say once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. We believe once in a lifetime studying somewhere you’ve never been before should be a challenging yet rewarding experience as well.

This year, several COAFians pursued a semester abroad due to their academic performance at top universities in Armenia. Tatev Sepkhanyan was in Spain, Anush Mkrthcyan — in Italy, and Ani Ghulinyan, a COAF alumna and scholarship-holder from the COAF-supported village of Dsegh, made it to Bucharest, Romania!

Photo credit: Erik Weiß

A student’s diary

You experience a slew of new things when in a foreign country. For Ani, the emotional ties with Romania began with her dormitory. Romania taught her to share space with people and learn to find a common language with them.

Photo credit: Foteini Tsigkeli

The Romanian chapter of her life wouldn’t be as memorable and fruitful if not the international friends she met while studying.

Road trips, hiking in the Carpathian Mountains, seaside walks, and the best pub hunts were inseparable parts of their studies. No weekend was taken for granted.

Being a student of Political Science at Yerevan State University, Ani continued her studies in the namesake department of the University of Bucharest. Being a student turned out to be less costly and more rewarding in Romania. “You get a 50% discount on public transportation with a student card,” she says with a smile.

Photo credit: Foteini Tsigkeli

Contemplating the ways youth chooses a future profession in Armenia, Ani notices that very few people she’s met before have dreamt of becoming this or that specialist. She thinks lucky are those who choose professions they’re truly passionate about.

The reflection of the war

Most of the five months Ani spent in Romania coincided with the war in Ukraine. It so happened that her roommate was from Ukraine too.

While one of the reasons I wanted to study abroad was to change my environment and get distracted from the walking memories of the 2020 war in Artsakh, I reflected on all the moments gradually as my roommate was going through different wartime psychological states, how her mood changed day by day — very familiar to me,” recalls Ani.

Soon, their college dormitory was full of Ukrainian refugees, their stories… proving that we all are human beings and the bitterness of a war is the same everywhere.

A filmmaker’s state of mind

While most people celebrate independence days with fireworks, parties, and get-togethers in their countries, Ani created an award-winning movie — An Independent Day in the Mountains — depicting a day in the life of a rural family spending September 21st, the Independence Day in Armenia, in the serene mountains of Lori, taking care of their mammals and enjoying their humble meals.

The love for movie production came from the Movie Critic’s club Ani was involved in upon the opening of the COAF SMART Center. Ani attended SMART for more than a year before moving to Yerevan to pursue higher education. She considers her SMART experience an important worldview-shaper in her life.

The moments she collects and the snapshots of life she takes might become the plot of a future movie that will appear at the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival, which she faithfully attends every year.

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Children of Armenia Fund

Children of Armenia Fund

Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is a non-profit organization that employs community-led approaches aimed at improving the quality of life in rural Armenia.