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Zdravo from Ljubljana

Hi everyone, I hail from my exchange semester at the University of Ljubljana! Just a disclaimer to begin with, the University of Ljubljana where I am now was actually a last resort choice after I was not able to go to Taiwan or Iceland (my first two choices!). So I guess my message is, wherever you end up, you'll have an absolutely blast. Don't be put off by the application procedure or competitive spots; go with the flow and you'll always end up with great people and a great time!

The Country I thought I'd include a little about the country because it's possible that many readers will not know a lot about it (I certainly knew embarrassingly little before I came here…) Slovenia is part of former Yugoslavia, it has a rather fraught history which involves being taken over at various points by the Austro-Hungarians, the Italians/Germans and then the Serbs from which it declared independence in 1991.

So that's the boring stuff! The stuff that will be relevant for you if you decide to come here are that it's a very very small country that manages to pack the Alps, Adriatic beaches and also a surprising amount of flat plain that looks amazingly like the Netherlands in places into about 20,000 square kilometres :D There are also very few people (about 2 million) so the capital city of Ljubljana is very similar in size to good old Groningen! One good thing about it being such a small country is that all Slovenes will speak rudimentary English or, at the very least, German. Student Life In a word: Erasmus. Think the most typical Erasmus party you've ever been to and you will find the epitome in Ljubljana. The only thing really different from Groningen is that Erasmus students are actually cool here; when there's an ESN party then all the Slovenians are queuing up outside to check it out! Clubs are pretty commercial and drinks are surprisingly expensive. Luckily alcohol in supermarkets is about half the price of that in the Netherlands!

School The University of Ljubljana is actually surprisingly good - it's ranked in the top 3% of unis worldwide, so that's cool! But luckily they take Erasmus very seriously at the faculty of Law, and they have special courses for exchange students which are purposefully easier than those for the normal Slovenians. This means it is a bit difficult to meet Slovenians, but there's a nice buddy system that overcomes that to an extent. The courses that you can take in Ljubljana are on the whole interesting, but I would say it's not the biggest reason to come here ;) I took a combination of easy courses (International Labour Law and European Human Rights) and rather more difficult ones (Diplomatic and Consular Law, Roman Law and Mergers, Acquisitions and Corporate Restructurings). The lecturers are pretty good with reasonable-good English and some of them are very very kind with their marking, but be sure to work out who is and isn't a pushover! The exams are a mixture of oral and written and most courses have some sort of paper or presentation to boost your (already rather ridiculously good) grade!

Accommodation I managed to apply pretty late for exchange which meant I missed out on the student dormitories, but I think that was definitely not a bad thing - I did the international student house experience in my first year at Groningen and I know I'm never going back! Instead I found the most amazing shared flat on Facebook and have never regretted it! We have the most awesome parties and the girls I live with are simply incredible. One tip I would give though is try and sort out housing as soon as possible because it does get stressful once terms starts and student housing is not highly abundant in the city. Food Being a former Socialist country does have its perks, and for students these come in the form of a thing called the "Studentski Boni" which translates to "student food coupons". This is a system that includes a network of specific restaurants where you can get a four course meal (soup, main, salad, fruit) for about €3-4. Because of this, we never cook because groceries are about the same price as in the Netherlands. With meals this cheap we never even need to make lunch…

I think I've got so used to eating so much food in the last 4 months I don't know what I'll do when I get back to Groningen :O

Exciting things to do The best things to do in Slovenia are most definitely the hiking and looking at beautiful leaves - in the autumn all of our eyes were on beautyoverloadomgsopretty mode the whole time :D There are some really great easy walks to do from the city centre in the two big parks in Ljubljana and if you're feeling more intrepid, you can hire a car and drive up to the Alps in the Triglav national park.

Other things to do include travelling - going to other former Yugoslav countries and Italy, Austria and Hungary are all very reachable. Two things to say about travelling in Slovenia and the surrounding areas though: trains are bad; buses are very very good. So overall, it's been a very good experience to get a glimpse of a different education system, and it's also been a very welcome break from the pressures of the University of Groningen! I wish you the best of luck for your own exchange application and I would definitely recommend coming to central/eastern Europe!

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