Benny’s Experience as an Italian Ph.D. Student in Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country, but it has a lot of opportunities. More and more people move to the country every year in search of these possibilities. Whether you are working or studying, Slovenia can be the place for you.

Benny is an Italian Ph.D. student who has been living in Slovenia for about four years. He is both a student and a worker here, so his story can be perfect for inspiring you if you are thinking about moving here, no matter what you do.

We interviewed Benny and asked him about his life in Slovenia, his difficulties, what he liked, and what he disliked. Let’s take a look at Benny’s journey together.

Who is Benny?

Benny has been living in Slovenia since October 2017, and this is his third year in Ljubljana. He was born in Germany to a German mother and an Italian father from Napoli. Before moving to Slovenia, he spent most of his time in Italy.

How do you feel about living in a different country than your friends and family?

“With the pandemic, it is quite different, but if I look back to what I was used to, it was ok because my family and friends do not live very far away. I kept a lot in touch with my parents and friends. I used to go there twice a month.”

Benny wanted to continue his studies as PhD student. “I applied for several PhD positions in Europe. One of my possibilities was here, and in the end, I chose to come.” Since he is a PhD. student, he is also working as a young researcher in Slovenia. 

On the side, he is also an amateur photographer. According to him, Slovenia is an excellent country for photography. “I’m not a professional; it is only my biggest hobby. I love to take pictures (especially around Slovenia) when I have some free time.”

Studying and Living in Slovenia

When asked about his study program, Benny explained he was expecting a plan with more preparation than what he is getting. “I follow some seminars and lectures, but this could be better. I think, first of all, there are many places to do a PhD in Europe, and this one is good, but it might not be the best.”

For now, Benny is not thinking about leaving Slovenia because he has to finish his Ph.D. before anything else. “In general, I like living here, I feel like there is less pressure in this country. It also has its disadvantages, when I compare it to Italy: I had much more interactions with my colleagues, for example.”

Since he arrived in Slovenia, Benny had more relationships with other expatriates and immigrants than Slovenians: “Let’s say that the people with whom I could get a really good relationship are mainly expatriates, even if I have some Slovenian friends. I think there are many factors for it: it depends on your own habits mainly, because there are cultural differences to consider.”

Did you meet many people in Slovenia so far? Are they Slovenians or other foreigners?

“If you come to study, you can meet many students and establish relationships easily, so I’m ok. I think it’s different in a working environment, it depends on many things but in general, at the workplace, a foreigner will have some difficulties to establish strong relationships with their colleagues. I was trying to, with my Slovenian colleagues, but we have really different habits, concerning how we spend our weekends, for example”

To integrate into the country’s life, Benny took classes to learn Slovenian: I was following a course for foreigners at the institute where I work for a couple of years, so I learned at least the basics and the grammar. I know how to speak: it is enough to say what I want when I go to the open market but not much more.” Anyway, frankly speaking, it is always better to learn the country’s language, even though English is usually enough for work.

Now, Benny feels integrated into the country’s life because he gets along with the people. “I like to experience life here and being able to see both the differences and the things we have in common. That’s something that it inspires me.”

Many foreigners are living in Slovenia, and most European immigrants call themselves expatriates. It is Benny’s case: I would call myself an expatriate. I had never really thought about it. It is probably just a feeling, because I feel really European, a citizen of Europe. Since Slovenia is within the borders of the European Union, it is of course not like being in your homeland but It feels like a common home anyway. I think it might be different for people coming here from outside of the European Union.”

Benny’s Thoughts On Quality of Life in Slovenia

If you plan on relocating to Slovenia, you will want to know about life in the country. Benny’s story will help you determine whether it is the country for you. 

Was it easy to find a job? How do you feel about work/working in Slovenia?

“I think in general, if you have some high-level education, it is probably a bit easier than in Italy, but otherwise, I don’t really know. In my experience and for my study background, it is been easier here.”

“The daily work routine is a bit different than the Italian one; people are less eager to spend time and discuss with their colleagues about work stuff. The striking difference is that in Italy, people try to be relaxed and do not pay much attention to the timing compared to Slovenians. I understand them, but I’m not concerned about how many hours I spend at the office. I was not used to this. I concentrare more on having the work done instead.”

What do you think about Slovenia’s healthcare system?

I don’t have much experience, but I don’t think it could so different than in Italy for the little experiences I had.

Is it easy to rent a property?

In Ljubljana, as it is the biggest city and the capital, there is a lot of speculation. It can be complicated to find something affordable that is not too small or too big. In general, I would advise taking into account the possibility of living outside of Ljubljana and having a car, especially if you like to be surrounded by nature. There are amazing green areas just 10 min driving outside of the city center.

Should You Live in Slovenia?

Generally speaking, Benny would recommend moving to Slovenia to someone looking for some excellent opportunity to find a good qualified job position in Slovenia or someone who wants to grow its own company. “There is not much bureaucracy for businesses compared to other countries. Here, life is quite good.”

“The lifestyle and the welfare are excellent, you can even get help if you want to make some important changes to your life.” However it might get complicated to find an affordable place to live in Ljubljana, which is the biggest downside of the capital.

Public transportation is good in the city but not so much developed and organized for connecting outside. You could feel sometimes isolated from the rest of the world if you don’t have a car and you are used to traveling a lot.

After living in Italy and Slovenia, Benny noticed a few differences between the two countries and their inhabitants. “The biggest one is the lifestyle, Italians are usually more inclusive, and we tend to establish more relationships with people at the beginning, at least at the workplace. I feel there is less flexibility here in the local daily routine, as in the management of the free time and holidays. Italians to me are more spontaneous. Here, the mentalities mostly follow well-organized schemes.” It’s also true maybe it’s us, Italians, to be too much disorganized! (laugh). But we usually put all our passion for what we like to do”

If you had to start over four years ago, would you change anything?

“I wouldn’t change anything. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going. It is a fulfilling experience, which can elevate consciousness and understand what the future can be. I recommend to anybody to do it, it is a nice experience to do, living abroad.”

Discover Other Stories

Benny’s experience underlines again the fact that it is nice and worth it to live and study in Slovenia for a long time. He managed to follow a good education here in Slovenia, even though it is not exactly as he thought it would be at the beginning. Also meeting plenty of people and helps to fully integrated into the country’s life.

If you are still not sure about moving to Slovenia, more testimonials of people we are interviewing might help you to make the right choice in the end! Let’s discover together the story of numerous other expats and their vision of Slovenia.

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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