Elena Starchevich, a Student from Bosnia and Herzegovina: Slovenian Diploma Is Recognised Internationally

A student of the University of Ljubljana, Elena Starchevich, came to Slovenia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The girl chose Slovenia as the country of study despite the fact that she had previously planned to study in Belgrade. Now, for several months, Elena has been studying under the Politology programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana. In her free time, she is engaged in handball at the Olympia Women’s Club.

In her interview with 2TM, our interlocutor told about her experience in studying Slovenian language, cooperation with 2TM and future plans – both in education and in sport.

Photo: © Elena Starchevich

– Hello, Elena! Tell us why you have chosen education in Slovenia, and not in the originally planned country?

– The main reason for my moving to Ljubljana is that the diploma obtained in Slovenia is recognised internationally. This gives me a guarantee that after completing my studies I will find a job here, which is not the case with my home country.

– Thanks to bilateral agreements, education in Slovenia is free for all citizens of the former Yugoslav republics in all state and some private educational institutions. How have you found out about this advantage?

– Approximately in the end of February, representatives of 2ТМ from Ljubljana visited my secondary school in Doboj and presented the benefits of studying in Slovenia for foreign students. The representatives of 2TM told us what they do and what services they offer. I repeat, I was most attracted by the fact that Slovenian diploma is recognised internationally, and, of course, it was nice to hear that education is free for foreign students.

– How have you overcome the difficulties of the initial stage of studies – understanding of lectures and materials in the Slovenian language?

– Indeed, all subjects here are instructed in the Slovenian language, except for the New Politics subject, which is instructed in English. At first it was difficult for me, but I am pleased that several foreign students study in my group. We help each other by communicating. Other groupmates are Slovenes. They are also very polite. They try to translate and explain to us what is incomprehensible. Thus, I can say that now, two months later, it is much easier for me.

– What is your experience in learning Slovenian?

– Frankly speaking, in my homeland, I studied it a little, first of all, some basic phrases. However, the fear of language was the only fear that had haunted me before coming to Ljubljana. I can say that it is similar to my native language, but it has certain features that differ from the Serbian language. Now, once a week, I attend the Slovenian language courses that the Faculty has provided to us, foreign students, in the framework of the Year+ programme.

– In Ljubljana, you are professionally engaged in handball. Please, tell us more about this hobby. Which club do you play for?

– Handball is the second reason I came here. I decided to continue training in Slovenia, because here they have the best conditions for continuing your career and achieving good results. I play for the Olimpia Handball Club. In September, I came to the first training session to see the club, training conditions, and decide whether I would like to train here. The coaches treated me very well, praised the way I play and work, and as a result, I started regular trainings in October. I am very satisfied.

– What had you known about Slovenia before coming here to study?

– Frankly, I had never been interested in Slovenia and had not thought about studying here, because, I repeat, I’d been sure in choosing one of the study programmes in Belgrade. When I first came to Slovenia, I was pleasantly surprised by your culture and mentality. Everything is different here, and I am more than pleased with my choice. I can say that I would have never changed my decision. If I had to choose again, I would have chosen Slovenia again.

– The education system in Slovenia offers students many advantages. What issues could you personally highlight?

– The system takes into account the needs of students and deserves praise. Starting with the Urbana card (a monthly pass for using public transport), which is 50% cheaper for students than for other residents. Then it is worth noting student bonuses (“bons”). For one month we have a little over 20 bons, which is more than enough for eating. It costs us, students, about 50% cheaper. The cost of renting a bike for everyone is just ridiculous. I am happy with everything.

– Do you miss Bosnia and Herzegovina?

– No, I don’t. Since I’ve received a residence permit, I went home twice. This weekend I am going there again, besides, my parents come here to visit me. I have already settled here and feel great.

– What are your professional plans for future?

– With regard to sport, I would like to continue playing handball, combining all my academic and athletic obligations. At the same time, studies still remain my priority. In Slovenia, I plan to stay for at least 5 years, since it is exactly the time I need to graduate from my study programme (3 + 2 years). I want to receive the Master’s degree, and then we will see. At the moment, I cannot plan anything, but, frankly, I want to stay in Slovenia and not go back to Bosnia.

– How do you evaluate the cooperation with 2TM?

– I advise every foreign student who decides to receive education in Slovenia to cooperate with 2ТМ for one simple reason – thanks to their assistance, my family and I did not have to constantly go to Ljubljana and back. They provided me with all the necessary information and told me which documents to prepare. My parents and I did not have to search for additional facts about the entire admission procedure. Everything was simple – I just sent the scanned documents by e-mail. For us, foreign students, this is an ideal option. If I acted on my own, I am sure that I would have to go to Ljubljana several times. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the 2TM team for all that they have done for me in the six months of our cooperation.

Author: Lydia M. Kusterbein

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