Raquel Pereira in Ljubljana, Slovenia:

…IT’S BEAUTIFUL, ECOLOGICAL AND EXTREMELY CLEAN. HAS THE PERFECT SIZE (BICYCLABLE EVERYWHERE) AND HAS A LOT OF GREEN SPACES AND NICE PLACES NEAR THE RIVER TO RELAX.

[On the left: Raquel at a coffee shop at Ljubljana, Slovenia. On the right: Raquel at the EILC course, Koper, Slovenia.]

Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2011/2012

Home institution: ESAD.CR, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal.
Course: Sound and Image.
Host institution: Visoka šola za umetnost, Univerza v Novi Gorici, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Course or field of study: Digital Arts and Practices.

Why did you choose this school?
I didin’t have many choices and I had already decide in my mind to go to Istanbul, Turkey. At the last moment a new partner appeared: Slovenia. I’ve always wanted to do Erasmus in Eastern Europe and this unknown and small country seemed perfect to me.

Did you like the school?
Yes, very small in size, students and workers, what makes possible to have a very familiar environment. With just a few classrooms  the school was created in order to be possible to change the space to serve every subject needs.

[The school.]

How far was the school from the city?
It’s a very small city, from the center 10/15 min.  by bicycle.

Your field of study is well developed in the school?
In Caldas I’m studying sound which is not a well developed subject there in Slovenia. It’s better for another areas like video, animation and photography but since I knew a little bit more of sound I was asked many times to  help with other students projects.

What other areas of study are developed in this school?
Animated film, Videofilm, New Media and Photography.

[The school.]

How did you relate to native teachers and students?
It was very easy to addapt, everybody was friendly and willing to help since I was the first Erasmus student there. The classes were in Slovene but my colleagues were always  the first to ask to change the class to english every time I arrived. Familiar and relaxed environement.

This school is “ideal” for… Animation and Video and to develop personal projects accompanied by very good artists and professionals.

Other information/Experiences:
Everybody speaks a good level of English so it’s very easy to comunicate. However the EILC course was one of the best experiences I had there, I recommend it.

Where did you stay?
In shared flats.

[My flat.]

How far was the flats from the school? And from the city?
In 1st semester I was in a flat 15 min. by bicycle to the center and 35/40mi.n to the university. It’s a very small city and even like this is ok the distance but in 2nd semester I changed to a flat right in center, 10 min. from university.

The flat was good?
Yes both of them were good.

How much did it cost?
In first semester I was in the smallest room – 116Euros (just rent). In second semester 180Euros (just rent). Bills are around 60e in winter and 50Euros in summer.

What did you think of the city?
Ljubljana is seen many times as  a ‘dolls city’ (cidade de bonecas). It’s beautiful, ecological and extremely clean. Has the perfect size (bicycable everywhere) and has a lot of green spaces and nice places near the river to relax.

[Ljublijana – City view.]

Did you experience difficulties with the language?
It’s a difficult language, much different from ours. However, the EILC course helped me to know the basic things and also all Slovene people speak almost a perfect english so it’s easy to communicate.

Did you think of the food?
It’s influenced by all the countries around, you can find food from everywhere: italian, austrian, spanish, mexican, thai, chinese… It’s difficult to find a tipical slovene restaurant however they have very good sweets. Meat is the main ingredient so vegetarians be careful!

How was the standard of living?
Similar to Portugal, some things are cheaper, others are expensiver but in the end I think they get even. It’s the best country to be a student, a lot of facilities and discounts.

[On the Left: City Center. On the right: Metelkova – an autonomous social centre in the center of Ljublijana.]

Did you visit other cities?
I visited almost the whole country and a lot around because it’s very small, easy and cheap to travel there.

What do you think are the major cultural differences?
More closed people than we are but very kind, open and curious to foreign people. There is no garbage on the streets, Slovene people are very clean and polite. Very rare to see homeless people sleeping in the city. The cold weather in winter is also a good and different experience for us which have to follow their steps to better addapt. Almost no criminality which gives you a lot of comfort and safety.

Other information/experiences:
Coffee, beer and olive oil are expensive and there is no draft beer as we are used to drink.

[Raquel in Velika Planina, Slovenia.]

Did you receive a grant?
Yes.

Did you make friendships? Yes.

Do you plan to go back?
Of course as soon and as many times as I can, to visit friends and feel beautiful Slovenia again.

What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?
A bigger knowledge of Balkan culture and also about my own culture which is kind strange but since we have to show other people our own origin and culture is amazing how much we learn about our country and ourselves. On a professional level it’s much easier for example being a student and work at the same time in Slovenia than in Portugal however the crisis is also coming and affecting a lot of people in this country.

[Bohinj – is a 20 km long and 5 km wide basin within the Julian Alps, in the Upper Carniola region of northwestern Slovenia.]

Did you experience some adventure or strange situation you’d like to share?
One time I was coming from a long and fun night by bicycle and it was so cold that I though the whole way home that I was going to die frozen in the middle of the street. Good to know that I had a lot of clothes, gloves, scarf, winter jacket, boots and hat, things I would rarely use in Portugal.

A recommendation for future “Mobility Students”:
Get yourself a bicyle as soon as you get there, it’s easy and cheap to get one and is the best and fastest transport around there. Very safe to drive and the best feeling ever. Be also careful with really expensive fines related with driving a bike and with the only crime in Ljubljana that I ever saw: stealing bicycles, get yourself a very good lock and use it all the time.

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