isn't "studying" the same thing as "learning" ? why isn't that an option here?
No, they're not exactly the same.
"To learn" ("a învăța") means to acquire some new knowledge or skill, by whatever means or methods. The emphasis here is on the actual acquisition of that knowledge or skill, i.e. the person doing the learning is gaining something useful.
"To study" ("a studia") means to make some effort and use specific methods, with the intended purpose of learning (acquiring) some new knowledge or skill. The emphasis here is on the actual effort and/or methods used (usually reading, careful observation, etc.) in order to acquire that knowledge or skill.
Native Romanian speakers often confuse these two because of the pervasive usage of "a învăța" when referring to, for example, reading for some upcoming school test. But remember, just because you're studying doesn't necessarily mean you're actually learning something, or vice versa.