Please find below a conversation with a 22-year-old Macedonian, a student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana (the Politology study programme), Igor Janevski about studying and living in Slovenia.
After graduating from basic school, Igor Janevski moved to Slovenia together with his parents from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. “I saw a better perspective in this country than in Macedonia,” says the 22-year-old student, who was pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness and the order in Slovenia. He also finds the Slovenian system of education to be the best one.
Igor’s father received a job at the Embassy of Macedonia in Slovenia and moved to this country. The family first stayed in Macedonia, often coming to visit Slovenia. A year later, in August 2011, just before the start of the new academic year, the whole family moved to Slovenia. “Before moving, I did not speak the Slovenian language,” notes Igor.
Although it was assumed that after the expiration of the father’s 4-year mandate, the whole family would return to Macedonia, Igor, being 15 years old, decided that he would continue his studies in Slovenia. During the last year of studies at the gymnasium, he lived with his best friend and classmate. When he entered the faculty, he rented a house with roommates.
Igor studies Politology with a degree in Democracy and Governance at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana. His older brother, an engineer, decided to study in Slovenia as well. He graduated from the Faculty of Maritime and Transportation of the University of Primorska and currently works as a technical control inspector.
In addition to his studies, Igor received a job at one of the major stores in Ljubljana through the Student Service. “In the morning I go to lectures, after the lectures I have lunch, as a rule, with my girlfriend. Then I work until the evening, maximum until 9:30 p.m.,” he describes his day.
“The most interesting situations happened to me during the time when I still did not know the language. When I started working in the hypermarket, a client approached me and said that she had found a toy in the freezer. Since I did not understand her, I suggested with excitement that she returned the toy. The client was shocked and went away fast. It was very unpleasant and funny when I found out what I really had said,” he recalls his first days in Slovenia.
Igor has already visited all major cities of Slovenia. He likes Ljubljana the best. According to him, this city is his favourite due to its architecture and people who bring life to the city. “I probably liked Ljubljana very much because it is about the same size as the city I come from,” he notes.
“When I first came to Slovenia, I was pleasantly surprised how neat and clean this country is,” recalls Igor. “Unlike Macedonia, the system works better here. It seems to me that everything functions as it should, and with a little effort, you can achieve even better results.”
Igor also finds the educational opportunities in Slovenia to be the best ones. “In Slovenia, they demand much more from you, but, frankly speaking, you can also learn more and receive more from studies,” he believes. “The relationship between teachers and students is also completely different. People in Slovenia are more likely to help you. Your work is appreciated.“
Igor thinks that the evaluation system is also more fair. “In Slovenia, having personal relations for example with school staff will never guarantee you higher marks, which is a common practice in Macedonia.”
Today Igor keeps admiring the beauty of Slovenia each day. However, he also noticed that the life of foreigners in Slovenia could be quite difficult. “We have other rights than the citizens of Slovenia, which, however, is understandable,” he says.
“With regard to the life of students from the so-called third countries, there is a number of shortcomings,” he explains. Thus, a foreigner in Slovenia has no right to have a free room in a dormitory. Igor specifies that in Ljubljana, students pay about 70 euros per room with a separate kitchen and shower. “I’d rather rent an apartment with my roommates than live in a dormitory, because here I have more freedom, and the price is about the same,” he says.
At the same time, Igor emphasizes that he tries not to place his financial burden on his relatives. “If I have difficulties, my parents help me, of course, but I pay for everything myself, because I want to be independent,” he explains.
According to the RMSI contract, he is entitled to have free basic insurance in Slovenia, which is valid only in emergency cases. “If you, for example, are taken by the ambulance. All the rest should be paid: examinations, prescriptions,” Igor adds.
Another drawback noted by our interlocutor is the necessity to pay an extra tax. Since he is employed through the Student Service, about 15% of his income goes to cover the disability insurance and to the pension fund. Besides that, as a foreigner, he still pays income tax at a rate of 22%. A total of 37%. Thus, if he, for example, earned 100 euros, he would actually receive only 63 euros.
“I have a feeling that people here are more self-restrained than in my homeland,” says Igor. “The Slovenes, as compared to the Macedonians, keep more withdrawn.” Despite this, Igor drew attention to the fact that they are always ready to help.
“Since I have arrived to Slovenia, I have never felt like a foreigner, because both teachers and classmates supported me at school every day,” he recalls studying at a secondary school in Ljubljana. “With their help, they undoubtedly made it easier for me to adapt to the Slovenian society. I met new people with whom I see a common future now. Thus, I can say that I am very happy in Slovenia.” As Igor mentions, in Slovenia, he has also met his girlfriend, who studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences as well. “Slovenian girls, unlike their Macedonian peers, do more sports and lead a healthier lifestyle,” Igor says enthusiastically. He notes that he is very fond of such a sporty lifestyle. “In both countries, life is very dynamic, and people are experiencing stress. The difference is that the Slovenes spend their weekends in the mountains, near the sea, or choose a different type of outdoor activities, while the Macedonians are mainly engaged in household chores and communicate with family and friends over a cup of coffee,” explains Igor.
“Most of all I miss my family and friends. It’s hard to be far away from them,” the 22-year-old boy notes. “We write to each other and talk every day, but this is a different feeling,” he says.
Igor visits his native Macedonia twice a year. Due to his academic requirements and the new life he leads in Slovenia, he has little free time. “In the summer, I travel for two or three weeks, depending on my employment schedule in Slovenia. I drive home if some kind of family event happens. If there is a wedding, for example,” he says.
“Since I went to kindergarten and basic school in Macedonia, I have friends there as well, with whom I constantly keep in touch,” Igor explains. “Besides studying, almost everyone works, because in Macedonia, it is difficult to live a month without a good salary.”
Igor certainly sees his future in Slovenia. He believes that he will be able to find a better job here and build the life that he seeks with his girlfriend. “I want to stay in Slovenia, because I think that I have a great future here,” he concludes.