A Student of the University of Maribor, Bekzhan Alymbaev: Mastering Slovenian Gives Me an Opportunity to Find Job

Our today’s interviewee is a student, Bekzhan Alymbaev. Last time we communicated with him in January 2018. Not so long ago, his life has changed greatly due to his studies in Slovenia. Now, we want to talk about these changes as well as about the experience of language learning and student employment.

Photo: © Bekzhan Alymbaev

– Good afternoon, Bekzhan. We are glad to meet you again!

– Good afternoon! I am also very pleased to meet the employees of my dear 2TM company.

– Almost a year has passed since our last interview. During this time, an ocean of various important events have happened in your life. Please tell us about them.

– Yes, time flies inexorably. At the time of our previous conversation, I was new to Slovenia and did not know what to expect from this country. I did not know its customs, culture, traditions. There were more questions than answers. However, the 2TM Company kindly responded to all of them. It was with your help that I entered the university in Novo mesto.

Novo mesto is a small town. However, this is its main advantage! All people know each other, all communicate with each other, all help each other. Therefore, I did not have any particular difficulties in adapting to the life in this town. Although the mentality, of course, is different.

The Faculty of Industrial Engineering (FIE), where I studied, is considered one of the best in Slovenia. It produces qualified specialists and cooperates with large industrial institutions. While studying there, I gained invaluable experience in the automotive industry by participating in a project organised by SIEVA.

FIE teachers do their job perfectly well. Lectures are held in various languages. I want to note that in the first year I did not know the Slovenian language. However, in spite of the fact that my programme was mainly intended for the Slovenes, I successfully completed the first year studying in English.

– Nevertheless, you say that you have transferred to another university. Tell us, in more detail, what caused the transition?

– At the end of the academic year, I realised that my programme did not quite allow the achievement of my life goals. Therefore, I began to look for an appropriate option within the civil engineering and technical programmes. After a while, I had to leave friends, acquaintances and all the old environment and leave Novo mesto, since there was no suitable faculty in this town.

The best programme options were in Ljubljana and Maribor. I chose Maribor. The reason for this was the lower annual tuition fee as well as the famous Maribor bridges. As a future builder, I have been interested in them almost from the first days of my stay in Slovenia.

I was also attracted by the architectural beauty of the city. There is a large number of beautiful places and institutions. My favourite place is the Pyramid Hill. Upstairs it offers a panoramic view of the surroundings, where the city is visible in full view. Most importantly, all sights are close to each other. The city is convenient and walk-around size.

– How did the transfer from the previous university to the new one pass?

– The process of my admission to the University of Maribor lasted two months. I turned to my friends in Kyrgyzstan to send me documents. The most exciting moment of admission was waiting for a response from the University of Maribor. However, after receiving the approval, my fear passed, and joy appeared.

– Was it difficult to say goodbye to the university in Novo Mesto?

– The year in Novo mesto just flew by. That was a short flight, but you cannot even imagine how many stories and adventures this flight contains…

Probably the hardest thing before the move was a farewell to my friends, rather than to the town itself. There was a feeling of leaving school for the second time. However, the whole of Slovenia is very small, so I can safely get from Maribor to Novo mesto, as I did many times before.

I only have positive memories and emotions about Novo mesto. My friends saw me off and wished me success in Maribor from the bottom of their hearts.

– Did you apply for the services of 2TM when moving to the new university?

– This time I decided to do it without the help of 2TM, because I wanted to go through the process of entering a foreign university myself. However, nothing could be done perfectly for the first time, so I occasionally needed the advice of the 2TM team.

– Share your first impressions of studying under the new programme.

– My programme is called Industrial and Civil Engineering. I am currently satisfied with everything. My group mates are friendly. Each lecture is more complicated than the previous one. Studying here involves many plans for the future.

– You call Maribor a city of students. Tell us more about the extracurricular life of students in this city.

– Maribor is one of the largest and most populated student cities in Slovenia. Therefore, any youth representative has something to do here in his or her free time. There are many clubs, societies, creative centres in Maribor. Many sport competitions are held here. I love to walk in the nature, so I always look for an opportunity to go on a camping trip with my friends. The last time we went to the Črešnjevica forest and played the military-tactical game Airsoft.

The university organises many activities for students along with various student organisations. For example, there has been recently held a contest for skateboarders attended by students from neighbouring countries. I like student life in Maribor and I actively participate in it.

– What about traveling?

– Many believe that Slovenia is the centre of Europe. Therefore, it is a sin not to go to neighbouring countries. I believe that if there is such an opportunity, then it is imperative to go somewhere. However, I am still limited by finances. The only time I left Slovenia was this summer. My friend from Montenegro and I went to Zagreb to watch the broadcast of the World Cup match between the national teams of Russia and Croatia. Unforgettable emotions and memories!

In the near future, I plan to go home to Kyrgyzstan, because I have not been there for more than a year…

– Tell us about your experience in mastering the Slovenian language. How easy was it for you?

– I started learning Slovenian on my own, while still in Kyrgyzstan. Upon arrival in Slovenia, I began to attend free courses organized by a volunteer company. I learned about them from my roommate. Classes were held three times a week on an individual basis. I cannot say that the classes were professional, because all the teachers were simple volunteers and not qualified professors. However, it did not bother me, because I began to learn the language from scratch. The courses lasted for half a year, and when the course ended, I could already speak Slovenian. I had no particular difficulties.

Of course, I do not think that now I can speak Slovenian perfectly. I cannot say that I am pleased with myself. However, I think that in order to consolidate success, I just need experience and a Slovenian environment. I can say that I learned 90% of the language by speaking. In my case, practice played a big role. Mastering Slovenian gave me an opportunity to find a job, because without knowledge of the Slovenian language it was hard to find a job. In turn, the work gave me new friends, a lot of experience, as well as financial independence from parents.

– Can you give any advice to future students about language learning?

– I know for sure that communication is real help in learning a language. Feel free to talk and do not be afraid to make mistakes!

– You said that you already have experience in side working. Tell us about it in more detail, please.

– I started with physical work, because without a language I didn’t even fit the position of a waiter in a cafe. Six months later, when I could already communicate in the Slovenian language, I began working in the service sector. At the moment, I want to find some interesting project at my Faculty.

– Have you ever applied to the Student Service?

– Registration in the Student Service was required wherever I worked. This centre is convenient, but in my opinion, the taxes are too high for some students.

– What is your opinion about the “bons” (student meal discounts)? Have you “tasted” them?

– Student bonuses are a convenient and necessary thing for students. I have tried all kinds of dishes that can be received for “bons”. I think they are not very nourishing, but they can kill hunger for 4–5 hours. Student bonuses tend to end, so sometimes I eat at home.

– Do you cook your own national Kyrgyz dishes in Slovenia?

– Kyrgyz cuisine is very specific and complex. I am not good at cooking, so I have never treated my Slovenian friends with our national dishes.

– Now, when you are a full-fledged student of the University of Maribor, looking back, do you regret that you studied for one year at the University of Novo Mesto?

– In the final analysis, I am very grateful to this university for everything it did for me. Despite the fact that I applied for admission to the first year a month after the deadline, the faculty still allowed me to study under the chosen programme. I am grateful to this town for new experience and for new acquaintances.

– Thank you for your answers. We have been glad to hear from you again!

– I am also happy to help future applicants and students!

P.S. The useful information on the topic of transferring to other study programmes and other universities is available here.

Besides, for the successful mastering of educational materials, we recommend applicants to take Slovenian language courses. You can apply for the language courses lasting 3, 6 and 12 months (100, 300 and 500 hours, respectively). Detailed information can be found here.

Interviewer: Polina Avfukova

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