For the past two decades, Slovenia and especially Ljubljana have started to become a popular destination for European citizens who want to discover this whole new country. The capital city is an important hub between Southern Europe, Central Europe, and the Balkans.
Antonio is an Italian journalist who lives and works mostly between Ljubljana and Koper. He arrived in Slovenia eight years ago and has lived there ever since. He is well settled in the Slovenian capital and has changed jobs a few years ago. This Radio journalist will tell you more about working in Slovenia as a foreigner and explain the strong European feeling in the country.
This article will tell you how an outgoing Milanese journalist became acclimatized to living in a small but international city like Ljubljana. Enjoy your reading!
A Land of Opportunity for European Workers
When he arrived in Slovenia, Antonio was working in the field of European projects and founds. Before discovering our beautiful country, he had the chance to live in five different countries. The critical factor for his moving to Ljubljana was the opportunity to have European support for an assistantship in a body non for profits in the sports field.
Eight years later, Antonio’s working life is completely different. He thinks Slovenia has given him many opportunities: “I completely changed my occupation, now I’m a journalist and speaker for an Italian language program in Slovenia. I live and work mostly between Ljubljana and Koper, and I am delighted with my job.”
When we asked Antonio how he liked to describe his identity, since he is an Italian immigrant living in Slovenia for a long time, he laughed. “I would call myself Antonio. If I had to put a label, I’d probably say that I’m a European.” For him, the Slovenian capital has a lot to offer in terms of European identity: “I have a feeling that, even if Ljubljana is among the smallest European capital cities, you can find more or less anything that you can find in other bigger cities, just in a smaller scale.”
Antonio’s Social Integration Process
Living far from friends and family can be challenging for immigrants and travelers. However, sometimes, it can become relatively easy. Antonio’s family lives in Milan, about 500 kilometers away from Ljubljana. He says that “it is not so complicated to reach out. It is not too far, it can be done easily by car. It might be hard sometimes, but you can always find a compromise to be able to meet”.
When we asked Antonio about the main differences between Italians and Slovenians, he told us more about their socialization habits: “one of the major differences is that the socialization in Slovenia goes through the coffee or drink, while in Italy it is through the food. In Italy, we take espressos as a short break to refill the energy, while it is very social here to have drinks. “When I took espressos with Slovenians, they were taking long drinks instead, so I had nothing to drink while we were talking for half an hour,” he said while laughing. “We also have differences in nutrition’s habits and timing of meals, so you have to think about it when you want to go out, invite someone out to eat, etc.”
Antonio’s social skills may have facilitated his life far from his relatives. He is now well integrated into the city’s life. “I feel to be quite well integrated with Ljubljana’s life, while in the rest of the country, I’m not really sure. There is a big gap between the capital city and the rest of Slovenia. I am also pretty well connected with Koper, where I work, and that’s it. I live in Ljubljana, and most of my friends too, so I spend my free time and have more connections here.”
Did you meet many Slovenians or more other expatriates?
In Ljubljana, there is an exceptionally present international life. I’d say it is straightforward to socialize with foreigners. There is also a growing Italian community in Ljubljana, which can be helpful for Italian expatriates. Let’s consider that generally speaking, most Slovenians speak at least two languages so it is easy to communicate with them. Some cities in Slovenia have an official Italian language, a lot of people speak English, Italian, German, Serbo-Croatian, we can all communicate with others in different languages. It’s true, though, that when you start speaking Slovene, you genuinely become more Slovenian. I don’t care if my friends are Italians, Slovenians, or other foreigners. They are all my friends, and I am good with this.
Since 2012, Antonio has had some time to improve his Slovenian language skills, even if he still doesn’t know his exact level. Even if he considers it not mandatory to learn it, he thinks of it as a critical factor for integration: “when I started to speak like the locals, it was truly easier to socialize and integrate.”
After years in the country, this very welcoming Italian journalist is not eager to leave. “For now, I have no big reason to relocate somewhere else.” Slovenia is still offering him many advantages and reasons to stay!
The Pros and Cons of the Slovenian Way of Life and Organisation
Was it easy to find a job? How do you feel about work/working in Slovenia?
“When I arrived, I was working in the field of European funds in the sports environment. It was a time when the EU started to invest a lot in this field. Since I was one of the country’s first experts, I had good chances here because I brought many opportunities for Slovenia itself. To reply to your question, to be honest, I don’t know if it is easy to find a job in Slovenia. I had a great chance to be selected to work for the radio, but I don’t know if it is easy for other people. I can’t really compare this with Italy, since there is a vast difference in the population: 60 million in Italy and only 2 million in Slovenia.
What is it like for a journalist to work in a small country like Slovenia?
I run an Italian language program on a Slovene national radio, so this is an interesting compromise. Considering I can work as an International journalist when I go to Italy, it is an exciting opportunity. Many people listen to my radio program in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and other countries thanks to our web streaming, so it is fascinating. When local people start to get to know and recognize and trust you, they begin to give you “the scoops” instead of other more prominent media.
Healthcare and Real Estate for Antonio
Antonio had only a few experiences with the Slovenian healthcare system or Real Estate market, but they were always positive. He owns a flat in Ljubljana, which means it is possible for EU nationals. Maybe, he says, it could be hard to find a long term personal doctor.
What have been the upsides and downsides of Slovenia according to you so far?
I still find that the country’s infrastructures and connections are not the same as other European countries, and could be improved. The best option for transportation remains the car since airplane and train connections are quite mediocre.
Antonio grew up in a big city like Milan. He lived around in other European Capitals for a few years, so this explains a lot about his favorite things about Slovenia: “People that like nature would love Slovenia. Ljubljana is an interesting compromise between a small city and a capital city: it is very green, which is its great advantage.”
Antonio’s Special Advice According to His Experience
Would you come back to Slovenia if you had to start over?
When I came to Slovenia, I believed it was the right move, and yes, I would do it again. The first time it was, in 2008, a bit before taking the final decision to move permanently. Ljubljana changed a lot through the years if you compare it with now with how it was. It was pretty fascinating to see the city opening up and changing. I saw a part of this passage between the capital of a Yugoslav province and a member of the EU: it was exciting to see the growth of tourists visiting Slovenia year after year.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to move to Slovenia?
If you have a life-long program where an experience here can fit, then you should try. Before deciding to move on long term perspective, you should try to come here to live at first for a more extended period to test how you would feel to live in the country. It would also be useful to learn some Slovene before to be able to integrate better. It is worth it, even if it is not easy. In any case, if you are young and see yourself living here, you should probably take the opportunity and give it a try, without overthinking.
Discover More Inspirational Stories!
Thanks to Antonio, we can show another face of Slovenia, a Central European country with a strong European focus and emerging opportunities. It confirms that even avid travelers with a lot of experience in other countries can enjoy an extended stay, even permanent relocation, and find exciting job opportunities in peaceful Slovenia.
Suppose you want to read more about other expatriates’ journeys in Slovenia. In that case, our other testimonials might interest you too: for the best insider tips ever, you can discover Mojca’s point of view on Slovenia here!