Despite of years of foreign influence and domination, Slovenia has remained a coherent nation. A distinct history and cultural heritage, emerald-green lake, virgin forests, and luscious green scenery, Slovenia may be small but it has a lot to offer to international students. Study abroad programs are becoming increasingly common within the nation, because Slovenia is favorably located between eastern and western Europe and controls some of Europe's major transit routes.
Geography & Demographics
Slovenia used to be part of the Yugoslav Republic until June 25, 1991, when the country separated from the republic and became independent. Located in the southern part of Central Europe, it remains one of the smallest nations with a population of almost two million people. Majority of the population consists of Slovenians of whom are mostly Roman Catholics, and the rest are mix of Croats and Serbs races. Slovenia lies between Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary. Ljubljana is the largest city in the country, and also serves as the country’s capital city.
The climate varies across Slovenia, from a Mediterranean climate on the coast to cold winters in the valleys of the east. The average temperature is above 20 degrees Celsius in July, and around freezing by January. When going to Slovenia in the summer, students should make sure to pack light clothes since the heat can be very intense at times, and generally warm. During the winter season, students should bring only the warmest of clothes to face the chilly days and nights.
Food & Culture
Slovene is the country’s official language, illustrated by the Latin alphabet. Most students find it difficult to learn the language because of the complicated letters. However, even limited knowledge of this language will not hinder the level of enjoyment for students and tourists alike. Slovenian is considered a romantic language, because it has a special dual form for specifying two persons, objects, or concepts.
In 1991, the tolar was the national currency, but in 2007 the euro (€) was introduced nationwide. The cost of living for students is pretty affordable in comparison to many other European nations, an advantage for students looking for cheaper, worthwhile study abroad experiences in Europe.
Visiting Slovenia is not complete without tasting the local food, experiencing the culture, and seeking out some adventures along the way. Slovenian cuisines are greatly influenced by neighboring countries. Most foods are served with mushroom soup and pork sour soup. One of the most popular Slovenian foods is a dessert called potica, made of tarragon, honey, walnut, poppy seed, crackling, chive, lovage, and cottage cheese; it is an interesting mix of flavors that creates a delicious post-meal treat. In Northern Slovenia, horseradish with cream is a specialty and it is often served with hearty beef dishes. Horseradish is a root vegetable most widely used as condiment, first timers should take note that it is especially spicy hot when fresh.
The family is the main social structure of society in Slovenia. In rural areas, the extended family members still live together either in one house or on one property. However, in urban areas the the number of families living together has been decreasing, since most of the young ones are beginning to seek independence and thus leave their family’s homes. Slovenes are typically industrious, respectful, honest, musically inclined, cheerful, and a little into extreme adventures. They tend to break out of their shell to deeply connect with the individuals they interact with, which makes them easy to get along with.
Between July and September, the country’s capital city hosts the International Summer Festival. This is one of Ljubljana’s oldest festivals, and the main summer event exhibiting fine operas, theater, and classical music performances.The festival is mostly held in Plečnik's open-air complex at Križanke. Another popular event in the country is the Pippi or Pika’s Festival, established in 1990 and named after Pippi Longstocking, a girl with two red pigtails, freckles on her cheeks and nose, colorful socks, and shoes too big, a well known fictional character in a series of children’s book created by Astrid Lindgren. The festival features exhibitions, theatre, dance and puppet performances, concerts, and workshops performed by both professionals and local performing groups and artists.
Things to Do
Outside the four walls of the classroom, a great number of activities await that the students can enjoy on their free time, options range from snowboarding, hiking, taking tours around the country or even across the country. Cultural events are quite popular and well attended in Slovenia especially during summer months which students who are on summer programs can take advantage of.
From the Julian Alps to the beaches of the Adriatic Sea, the nation also offers a great number of outdoor activities to international students. Slovenia is blessed with charming castles, built in the medieval era which provide historical, architectural marvels throughout the country. The country’s spectacular natural surroundings combined with its cultural attractions, makes it a true pleasure to explore.
Studying in Slovenia
There are many reasons to study in Slovenia, one of which is to delve into its abundant culture or even to learn a foreign language. As a member of the European Union, the country provides enormous opportunities for students to study abroad. It may not be one of the popular study abroad destinations, however, foreign students will be surprised how Slovenia keeps up with modern technology; when it comes to school facilities and quality education, Slovenia provides both across public and private universities, colleges, and other educational institutions throughout the country.
For living arrangements, a student can either rent a room in a residence hall or rent a private room or apartment. Foreign students can stay in a university/college residence hall if they are a recipient of scholarships of the Slovenian Government otherwise, they have to find their own accommodation. It is during September and October that has a high demand for accommodation which means the rent cost increases, too. Students should be aware of unknown hidden rent costs, and always ask about the true price up front.