Pozdravljeni še enkrat!
I’ll start this post with the relevant information for the future exchange students. Hopefully, not the only one in this blog series (1st part here). The best thing about the Erasmus is you can do whatever you want. Party every day, yes, it is possible. Not to party at all is also possible despite the Erasmus reputation (okay, at least one is a must). Or one can study hard whole week, on Saturday go to school and on Sunday go to church. Take things seriously or be irresponsible. A student can save the grant money, use them on travelling or spend all of them on drugs. It is up to you, everything. After few months you will get back to real reality, till then you should explore places and do things you have never done before. Or don’t, it is only your decision. Laugh or cry, find the friends or stay alone, get lost or find your place. Choose one. Or all the above, as I did (Actually, no, I didn’t spend all my money on drugs).
“Why did you choose Ljubljana, Slovenia?” was another question I often had to face. Putting aside the fact my options were constrained (mainly due to language requirements and available courses), it is harder to find reasons why not to go to Slovenia. At first it wasn’t my desired destination, but it turns out to be a great decision.
Slovenia has everything. The mountain and the sea, lakes and rivers, woods and fields, earth and sky. Not to forget about culture and history. Even the pathetic claims like “the grass is greener here” are true due to the sunny weather with the evening storms. And it is one of the unique places, where everybody cares about the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia. Except that “Slovenska republika” in Slovenian language means Republic of Slovenia and in Slovak language it is, you know, Slovakia.
The mountain and the sea…
In spite of Slovenian also belongs to the group of Slavic languages, there are only few similarities. Fortunately, everyone there speaks English. That is another reason why Slovenia is good Erasmus destination. Especially for students incoming from other Slavic countries, because it is not completely strange. Some students were able learn Slovenian to understand enough, some could even keep a simple conversation.
Then there’s me – language is not my friend. I hoped my English will improve, it was one of the reasons I decided to go on Erasmus (I had many reasons, starting with simple: Get the hell out of here). After my arrival my English was not very good, but I still had the hope. At the end it was not great, no hope, but at least I didn’t have a problem with it. Not sure what others would say, according to mandatory language assessment taken before and after the mobility, my level of English decreased. Well done.
…lakes and rivers…
Talking in English became easy and not a challenge anymore, nothing special, whoever can do that. So, I tried Slovene. I remember ordering food (food! except “Dober dan” only phrases I need), I motivatedly began in Slovene, somehow added a bit of Slovak, continued in English and helped with hands. All I wanted was a sandwich with cheese and vegetables. Next time I should try to speak in Dothraki, switch to Python with binary accent and use the eyeballs movements for the vintage effect. It would be better. Only official language I will ever accept is mathematics – the language of the Universe. It’s not just numbers, but structures, patterns, order, ideas, relationships (only chance to have one!).
The most eminent symbol of the Slovenian nation is Triglav. The mountain they are proud of. The challenge. The big attractor. Or the big repeller for those who are out of breath and their heartbeat increases after using a long escalator. Don’t go there unless you are experienced and fit, or unless you can afford to call the taxi in the form of a helicopter to rescue you. ;)
…woods and fields…
Back down to describe Ljubljana. Lovely city, small but capital, calm but vibrant, cozy but modern, active but comfortable, no big sights but perfect for citizens, charming. It is very green city – in the amount of greenery as well as in the environmental terms. The green can be smelled in the air (especially around student dorms). But what do I like about the city the most, right after all the above? The bike traffic (now I can hear how eager drivers are rolling their eyes).
Cycle routes everywhere, masses of cyclist riding various bicycles, drivers are considerate and respectful – unbelievable. In the city, the pedestrians are in the first place, then bicycles, electric vehicles and buses. No cars are allowed in the city center. Cycling is undoubtedly the best (and the fastest and the healthiest and the most eco-friendly and, of course, the fanciest) way how to move around, transfer from the one point to another or just explore the city from the bike.
Everywhere, literally. What is a better question, how or why?
I quickly became an addict, I stopped walking and using public transport. No exceptions, nothing is too close or too far, there is no such thing as a bad weather for cycling. Almost change my mind while slightly sliding down on the heaps of melting snow. That ugly melting snow, which is basically a liquid water holding its shape against thermodynamic principles and good manners, just to piss everyone off.
Still better than riding a bike in Bratislava. Here the cyclist can choose the road, where they feel highly unwanted and endangered or sidewalk, where they feel like criminals and unwanted too. Third option is using the bicycle path, but this is possible only in the head with rich imagination or in the alternative perpendicular universe. When a lucky cyclist finds a piece of bike path, for example far away from the city center in the woods of Dunajske luhy, he must remain alert. Even there that poor one can be found by an unscrupulous angry driver, which wants to tell him how he hates cyclists. Autonomous cars, please, come.
…not to forget about culture and history.
Return home, going back after months away was awkward as (parenthesis in) this post. Every story has the end. This post ends here but will continue with the 3rd part. Next time I will sum up few thing, give some advice and you will find out whether the Erasmus is
- one big party
- the few months long, government sponsored vacation
- the unforgettable experience, in a good or a bad way
- finding a way how to actually live a life
- the survival drama in the hostile environment, the constant lonely fight against decadent reality
- or, nothing too dramatic.
Se vidimo naslednjič!