Similar or different?

When I went home for Christmas, I naturally got asked about Slovenia a lot. And I realized, there really aren’t so many differences between my home country Germany and my current country Slovenia. Sure, the coffee is cheaper over here than in Berlin, and I like the fact, that you have to buy train ticket the old fashioned way at the ticket office. There also are more hills and of course a totally different language, but I haven’t stumbled upon any major cultural differences to report back home so far.  As disappointing as it is to my friends and family, I have actually found more similarities than differences. Trains always run late in both countries, there are no weird Slovene food specialties and in general life just seems to be organized in a very similar way. Also, the mostly a little grumpy and reserved Slovenes, you meet on the street or in a shop, remind me a lot of the famously unfriendly people from Berlin. It’s that attitude that makes it hard to wrap your fingers around any typical Slovene mentality there might be.  However, what has astonished me, when I was talking to Slovenes, is how far apart the opinions about their home country lie. From the older kids in school I got a lot of “Why on earth did you come here?” reactions, I didn’t really know how to handle, also someone who claimed he hated Slovenia and the whole of Europe and was going to move to Canada. I am not used to people having such a strong negative view on their own town or country, because in Berlin most people I know share my love for the City.  But on the other hand, Slovenes have also told me, how beautiful this country is, and how lucky they are, to have mountains and the seaside combined in such a small stretch of land. One of the teachers in school told me, he liked how wonderfully crazy the people are. That’s one thing I really can’t confirm so far. To me, Slovenia seems more like a giant village, a bit sleepy, slow and more relaxed, than what I’m used to. For the five months I have left, I hope to discover that other, maybe a bit more lively and surprising side of this country aswell.

Josephine Kreutzmüller

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