Europe

Slovenia – free food and bike rides!

Nadia – University of Ljubljana

Semester 1, 2019
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Media and Communication

In early February I left my job, my friends and my family behind to study for a semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Known as a ‘student city’ for its young population, lively events and student perks I am so glad for the time that I spent there. I made many lifelong friends from all over the world and was able to become more confident and independent.

Academic Life

When the semester first began, I felt overwhelmed with assessment. While QUT generally requires two or three key assessments per unit, many of my Slovenian subjects involved a presentation or essay each week. Although highly involved, these tasks only accounted for 50% of your grade in total, with a big exam making up the other half at the end. The curriculum had a big focus on group assignments, in-class participation and presentations. However, I quickly learned that despite the extra workload, a less rigorous marking process meant it was much easier to get a good grade. Once I learned this, my exchange became much less stressful and I was able to enjoy time at events and exploring the country with new friends.

Leisure

Ljubljana is a city of rich culture and traditions. On a sunny day its common for people to hike to the Castle for a picnic overlooking the city, or to enjoy drinks and a meal along the river with friends. There were also regular events for exchange students organised by two student associations. These included trips to Prian, Lake Bled, Skiing in the mountains, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and more. They also organised a student party every Tuesday and Thursday night – and karaoke Wednesdays. There was definitely never a dull moment!

Food

All students in Slovenia are eligible for BONI, which is where the government will subsidise up to 2 meals for you a day, or 30 meals in a month. This meant students could get discounted meals from anywhere in the city, ranging from completely free to just 4 euros for an entire meal. Think a burger and chips, or a whole pizza, plus soup and salad! This was many of our exchange student’s favourite part of exchange and it was common for friends to eat out regularly for lunch or dinner.

Exercise

With such cheap food many of us were worried about gaining weight. The Faculty of Business and Economics offers a range of free athletic programs that you can join at the start of semester including basketball, boxing, football, volleyball and aerobics. These classes were quite far from my accommodation, so I didn’t end up participating. Instead, I joined a nearby gym.

All gyms in Ljubljana were considerably cheaper than in Brisbane. The two main ones near the business faculty are Alpha gym and Gym24. I went to the latter and would highly recommend it – the classes, equipment and facilities were all great. Free gyms are also available at the dorms.

Travel

Ljubljana is quite small so almost everything is within walking distance. There is also a decent bus system which costs 1.20 euro for a one-way trip, you will need to use a machine to get the equivalent of a go-card first as they don’t accept cash onboard. However, myself and many other students opted to purchase a second-hand bike for the duration of our stay. I highly recommend this option. Ljubljana is pretty flat across the whole city and has a great infrastructure for bikes – plus you don’t need to wear a helmet!

Given its central location, it was easy to travel to other European countries from Slovenia. Flixbus was the cheapest, easiest and most popular way to travel. I got pretty lucky with my accommodation, which was super close to the central bus stop. From there I was able to travel to cities in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia with ease. However, if you want to travel a bit further away, flights from the Slovenian airport were quite limited and expensive. In most cases, I’d recommend taking a Flixbus to a bigger airport for cheaper flights!

My time in Ljubljana was really special. I made so many fun memories and lifelong friends from around the world that are already planning their trips to Australia! Despite the difficulties of being away from home, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I really recommend that everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to study abroad!

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi Nadia,
    I had never heard of Ljubljana before reading this post – but now I really want to go! The concept of the government subsidizing your meals is so cool and I think it should be implemented immediately within Australia. However, I feel like I too would be worried about overeating so joining a gym is such a good idea. I was just wondering, what was your favourite meal you at whilst on exchange? I’m always obsessed with hearing about the food from other countries.

  2. Avatar

    Hi Nadia,

    It’s great that you had a good time! I was wondering how did you manage the expenses and like what is your approximate budget for the duration of the exchange? Also, did the host university provided the accommodation or did you look for a private apartment?

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