University of Wisconsin–Madison

A Study Abroad Prelude: Slovenia (August 26)

Zivio readers! My time in Slovenia has come to an end, and so I have accumulated many Balkan adventures. I’ve tripped up the steps of four different castles (they were very old and very steep!). I’ve heard some amazing 1980’s Yugoslavian Music some truly terrible 1990’s Balkan Music. I’ve attempted to communicate with my great-aunt despite the language barrier. I’ve gone out with a huge group of Europeans only to abandon them for sleep at 7 a.m.

After seven cities and two countries in six days, I’ve seen a lot, in the city and in the country. I realized that as amazing it is to be in a foreign city, in some bustling City Center where everyone has conversations in a language that sounds fluid and complicated like a foreign opera, it’s even more amazing to see the Natural Attractions. That’s when you really feel like you’re someplace different. Cities are manmade, and a concrete building in Ljubljana can look very much like a concrete building in Chicago. But the caves, the mountains, the lakes: those are attractions very unique to a country. That’s when I truly felt awed, when I first saw these views in Slovenia:

Bohinj
Bohinj
View from Savica Waterfall
View from Savica Waterfall

There are two biggies in the Lake Department in Slovenia: Bled and Bohinj. Bohinj and the surrounding area was my favorite because there were by far fewer tourists.

Piran is another must-see city in Slovenia. After spending a few hours at a beach in Croatia, my cousin and I stopped in Piran on our way back to Ljubljana. Piran was the last destination in Slovenia. In a way this was perfect, because standing alongside the waters of Piran, I could see Trieste in the distance. It was my first glimpse of Italy. The next morning, I flew to Rome.

The Venetian House, Piran
The Venetian House, Piran
view from the bell tower
view from the bell tower
main square seen from bell tower
main square seen from bell tower

Image 5

Image 6

Slovenia prepared me for Rome in a few ways. Mainly: the culture shock, especially the language barrier. Being in a city where you don’t know the language is exciting in some ways. And then sometimes you miss even the most basic conversation, like small talk with the woman in front of you in line. Or generic pleasantries with people passing by. I felt relieved if I overheard an English conversation. The best had to be at the Postogna Cave… the British guy behind me asked his friend, “Shall I put my cigarette out with a stalactite or a stalagmite?” Humor is one thing you miss if you don’t understand the language around you.

I feel sad leaving Slovenia; it’s the country my family comes from. Now I’m sitting at the Munich Airport for a very long layover, and I have no idea when I’ll be back to the Motherland.

an English ashtray
an English ashtray
Inside the Postogna cave. The pamphlet dramatically describes the experience: “Catch the chill breaths which blow here from the underworld!” Everything is dark and misshapen. It reminded me of what a Dr. Seuss book might look like if Dr. Seuss were a morose, grim Gothic children’s author.
Inside the Postogna cave. The pamphlet dramatically describes the experience: “Catch the chill breaths which blow here from the underworld!” Everything is dark and misshapen. It reminded me of what a Dr. Seuss book might look like if Dr. Seuss were a morose, grim Gothic children’s author.
the river running through Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city
the river running through Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana
Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana