Lepo mesto

Živjo!  Jaz sem Kristen.  Sem iz Amerike, ampak živim zdaj v Ljubljani, v Sloveniji.  Študiram tukaj na fakultet za geodezio za eno leto.  Moje stanovanje je v centru pri eno veliko cesto in park.  Ljubljana je zelo lepo mesto.

The German adventure has ended; the Slovenian one has just begun.  On September 1, I took a train from Erlangen, Germany to Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I will now be living for the next year as a student of the University of Ljubljana.  The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of events, classes, and apartment-hunting, so I apologize for taking so long to put up my first post!

The train ride over here was a fascinating view of the ever-changing scenery in Europe.  Southern Germany is filled with rolling hills and farmland with intermittent forest.  Iconic red roofs and church steeples popped up every few kilometers, reminding me that no matter how far you go in much of Germany, you can rarely truly get away from the sight of another human being.  That’s one of the things I missed most while in Germany; the ability to drive for hours through nothing but forest.  It’s even more incredible to think that all those settlements were sprawled all across Germany long before the U.S. became a country.  Austria quickly turned to towering mountains which were just a shade lighter than the dark cloudy sky that covered most of this leg of the trip.  What I found even more curious though was the distinct difference between the Austrian and Slovenian forests.  In Austria and Germany, the forests are populated by few tree species which dominate the land cover.  The forest somehow seems orderly; or perhaps that’s just what came to mind once we passed into Slovenia.  As we rode into the Julian Alps and made our way towards Ljubljana, I couldn’t help thinking that the Slovenian forest looks more like a lively garden that someone had just let overgrown.  Vines and other plants crawl over each other on the forest floor, and deciduous trees crowd themselves among the pines.  The small houses nestled among rolling hills and the base of mountains look just like they might in a fairy tale.  So cliche, I know, but there’s really no better way to describe it.

I booked an Airbnb for the first nine days in the city, and thank goodness I had that much time as my search for an apartment took up pretty much every afternoon of those nine days.  At 9am I went to my language course, and by 1 or 2 in the afternoon I was out to see two, three, four apartments in a day.  Since I’ll be here for a year, I didn’t want to settle on the first apartment that I saw.  That’s what many Erasmus students have done since they’ll only be here a few months, but Ljubljana is a small city, and living a few kilometers out can really feel like a long way away when the center is the real meeting place.  Thankfully, on my last night in the Airbnb, I had a girl contact me to let me know she’d be happy to have me move into her apartment, and I was moved in the next day. I really couldn’t have asked for a better roommate.  Sofia studies international relations, the same as what I studied at GV, and speaks Spanish (and how nice it is to hear a South American accent when everyone else here is from Spain!).  I’ve already tried speaking some Slovene with her and her friends, and though I speak about as slow as a sloth can move, they say they don’t mind.  With a bit of study and a lot of practice, that should greatly improve in the next few months. 🙂

My intensive Slovene language course started a few days after arriving in Ljubljana.  I am actually quite surprised at how much we were able to learn in just three short weeks.  Of course, it’s also left me dead tired every day and has greatly increased my appreciation for a good mid afternoon nap.  Honestly though, it’s so easy to practice the language while at the store or making plans or…well, okay, mostly at the store.  The ability to speak “malo” (a little) slovensko is great to start conversations with people here.  Once my vocabulary is exhausted, we can easily switch to English, which pretty much every person here from university students to food truck vendors to the smallest shop owner can speak with relative fluency.   I’m sure that will change though once I head to actual university classes, which are taught in Slovene.

Ljubljana is the capital and the largest city in Slovenia.  The city can quickly start to feel like a smaller town though with its 300,000 population.  This works just fine for me.  The many cafes lining the Ljubljanica River, music on the streets, and generally relaxed atmosphere almost remind me of the small towns that dot the coastline of Lake Michigan.  I’ve also been able to try plenty of great (or not so great) restaurants around town, as one perk of being a student is getting reduced price meals at many restaurants throughout Slovenia.  An entire prosciutto pizza, broccoli soup, salad, and an apple for less than four euro?  I’ll take it!  And that’s about as expensive as the meals get.  Lunchtime has become a ritual after class.  I spend much of my time with a group of girls from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, and we have been trying new places to eat almost every day.  Let’s hope we can keep this up once classes start and schedules start to get a bit more crazy.

One of my reasons for coming to Slovenia was because photos of nature here looked absolutely beautiful.  Each place has been just as wondrous in person.   From the Julian Alps to Lakes Bled and Bohinj to the riverbank of the Ljubljanica River, I only wish that my camera could capture the true beauty of this country.  Thank goodness  I have a whole year here, because there is certainly plenty to see!  Most of the photos below are from weekend trips to the lakes, and one weekend to Rijeka, Croatia.

That’s it for now.  I’m headed tomorrow morning to hike through the Šoca River Valley.  After that, it’s time to relax for a few days before classes start.  I’m sure some baking, biking, and tea by the river will fit in there somewhere. (:

 

But of course, pictures!  Here’s some photos from a weekend at Lake Bohinj:

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And then on a day hike by the Soca Valley:

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And from some strolling about the city center:

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What trip in Slovenia would be complete without a day at Lake Bled?

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And what better way to start the year than with a trip to the beach…in this case, Rijeka, Croatia:

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Se vidimo!

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