I moved to Gyumri exactly one month ago, and again I chose the option to stay with a host family. At first, when I arrived in Armenia 7 months(!) ago (yes I am a papik/grandpa), the main reason to stay with a host family was that I wanted to learn Armenian as fast as possible. Ever since, my Armenian has improved a lot. From zero to being able to have a basic conversation. Truth be told, the first week is kinda hard, because you don’t know the people you are living with and on top of that you/I have the language barrier, which can be useful sometimes too, because you can play the ‘I don’t understand card’ whenever you don’t feel like answer questions. At my Gyumri host family I didn’t need to adjust at all, they were so welcoming and it felt like home right away. We had surj (Armenian coffee) and Gata (Armenian cake/dessert) together and a good conversation (in Armenian), so no language barrier anymore. I even talked to my host sister (Gayane) who is studying in USA. I found out that my host mom is an amazing baker and known in town for it. That made me happy and sad at the same time… I have to explain, I gained 5 kilo’s in Yerevan and I promised myself to lose weight in Gyumri. But, having to live with an Armenian host family, losing weight is utopian. So I thought I might as well learn how to cook like a boss. My host mom (Anush) was very happy and excited to teach me. By the way, in Armenian you say the word ‘Anush’ when you offer food to someone (coincidence..?). Making gata took me ‘only’ 2 days (12 hours to make). According to Anush, I am one of her best students though…oh and I am ready to get married (who isn’t here when he/she reached the age of >20). Contrary to Anush, my host bro (Zhogher) was less proud when he saw me in an apron... We made 120 gata’s (including baklava, napoleon, paneerov gata etc.). We invited our girls’ soccer team and my boys from the orphanage to our house. They unanimously approved my gata, and no one had stomach ache afterwards…I think. Being with such lovely host families makes it easier to be away from your ‘biological’ family for such a long time, but ‘ma niet jaloers zijn, ik mis jullie wel hoor’!