2 ingredient recipe: How to piss off a Slovene just by using the SLOVENIAN LANGUAGE and your CLUELESSNESS

Oh boy! Have I thought that I am fluent and cool when speaking to Slovenes! I was so proud of myself when they kept telling me how good my Slovene is. For over a year I haven´t spoken to a Slovenian person in another language than Slovenian. I knew I wasn´t perfect and still had a long way to go, but I was writing essays in Slovenian and had all of my classes in that language, so one can guess that my confidence was high. One could also guess that this article will not be about my Slovenian superpowers. Quite on contrary. I am looking forward to tell you about one of the biggest turn-offs which I have shown to some dear Slovenian native speakers.

The phrase »ne da se« seems so innocent at first. When you say »v tem vremenu se res ne da iti v gore«, the situation is clear and understandable. It is impossible to go to the mountains in this weather. Okay. When learning this phrase, I was pleased, since we had the same one in my native language.

However… »Danes se mi ne da iti v gore«. Should have the same meaning, right?
Wrong, you guessed it.

If you say »ne da se mi«, you are basically saying to the Slovenes that you are not willing to do something, that you are either not in the mood or too lazy to do the thing.
Needless to say, I have found out about it a bit too late.

So at first, I was writing an e-mail to my professor. In a very formal way (as you do with academic authorities) I have tried to explain to him that I need to write my exam in a later term because of my other obligations. So it looked something like this:

Spoštovani izred. Prof. XY,
Zelo se opravičujem, ampak zaradi drugih študijnih obveznosti se mi ne bo dalo priti na prvi termin izpita. A bi lahko prišla na drugi termin?
Že vnaprej se Vam zahvaljujem za odgovor in razumjevanje in lepo pozdravljam.

How sweet of me! I have basically written to him:

Dear Mr. Professor,
I am really sorry but I don´t feel like coming to the first term of the exam because of my other obligations. Could I come to the second examination term?
Thank you very much for understanding and for your answer.

He wasn´t too pleased but have still allowed me to attend the second term, so I haven´t got the hint.

The other time I have apologized to my classmate that I wasn´t »able« (nise mi dalo) or- in fact –willing to work on our project because I was sick. She was angry, I had no clue what has happened. Why are all Slovenes so short tempered?

And then finally I was saved. One day my boyfriend has rushed from work to see me. I was surprised that he had finished so early because I have made some other plans before the evening. You already know what followed – »ne da se mi prej«, I don´t feel like meeting you earlier. And one argument later I felt absolutely confused. Is this some weird Slovenian manner, getting pissed off for no reason?

Way later I was told what »ne da se mi« really means. At first I felt relieved, thinking »So that´s why…!«. Then I froze for a second and started to think about all the moments when I have used the phrase in a wrong way. I guess I turned pale white and disconnected myself from the humanity for the following few minutes.

What could have been done differently to prevent this situation? I have no clue. Personally I would not feel like telling a foreigner who is speaking my native language that the rude thing he just said was probably not what he meant to say. No way. I would think this person was an asshole. Therefore, unfortunately, the rare moments of not fitting into a new language community seem to be a MUST for the most of us foreigners, however hard we are trying to assimilate.

You will have misunderstandings, you may piss some people off and even lose some good chances. But think positively. You may have said that stupid thing in the national TV in front of the whole nation. Or have written that in an official letter to the prime minister of the country. Or in a not-so-appropriate response to your potential employer, who has just offered you the job with the monthly 3000€ payment. None of these have happened? So you still will be able to laugh about it one day. Do that. It is the only way how to survive the awkward moments of being a clueless foreigner.

KL, 2016


SLOVENIA in pictures: Erasmus edition p.5

Slovenia is attracting more and more tourists every year and their excitement is really contagious! That is why we keep asking our friends from Erasmus to share their best experiences and memories from Slovenia.

This time we will visit the country with Viktoria from Vojvodina and her friends. Let´s see what her best moments in Slovenia were like!

Excited to see more? Visit our gallery!

pictures by: V. Filka

SLOVENIA in pictures: Erasmus edition p.4!

You will never remain hungry in Slovenia for too long. Wondering why? To understand what we are talking about, just visit some of the food festivals which are now booming in Slovenia! The proof is here – a little flashback documented by the Czech student Martina. This is how the chocolate festival in Radovljica in April looked like.


And if you are interested in more than just a foodporn, Martina had you covered! Here is the tourist-friendly BEST OF Radovljica:

KL, 2016

Slovakia in pictures: Erasmus edition p.3!

This time we have asked our well travelled friend from Poland to share his experience from Slovakia. Gorgeous mountains, water basins, lakes, forrests, beatiful city centres – Slovakia seems to have it all! If you need some inspiration for your future holidays, check these ones out!

Which ones of these places have you visited yourself? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂

Slovenia in pictures: Erasmus edition p.2!

The weather in Slovenia has been crazy lately, but that did not stop the tourists from exploring the country. Which of these places or scenes have you seen as well?

This time we will look at Slovenia from the perspective of the Czech student Kamila :).

Slovenia in pictures: Erasmus edition p.1!

Sometimes an excited visitor can see more potential in the country than the homecomer! That is why we asked the Erasmus students to share their experience from Slovenia.

Let´s see what caught their attention the most!

Hide&Seek in Ljublana p.2

Have you found any of the previous pieces of wall art in Ljubljana? Good job! Do not stop there, since there are many more to come! This time even the famous faces from the Slovenian literary history have joined the game. Do you recognize any of these?


KL, 2016

Hide&Seek in Ljubljana: How many of these have you noticed? (part 1)

While walking the streets of Ljubljana, talking to the friends, listening to the street musicians, trying to avoid the bicycles and deciding which cafeteria to enter all at the same time, it is really easy to not notice them.

They are all well hidden in the small streets, under the bridges or behind the old impressive buildings. And some of them are chilling on such obvious places that we simply do not notice them. Like the Slovaks tend to say: Pod lampou býva najväčšia tma (The darkest place is under a candlestick).

I have decided to take my camera for a walk and take a picture of these wall creatures. And this is where the magic happens – once you will see them, you will never unsee them again. Give it a try and let us know: How many of them have you found?


KL, 2016

A year in Slovakia: The first grey hair and friendships for life

“Slovak/Slovene for a year” is a section about those who have experienced one of our countries as foreigners. We will share their stories with you, so you can take a look at the countries from the foreigner perspective.

This article is written by a Slovene student of the Slovak language and Social sciences, who spent the academic year 2010/2011 in Bratislava.


Bratislava castle, Slovakia

The Bratislava castle, Slovakia (photo by: T. Malnar)

Zzzzzzzzzz. The sound of the alarm clock on a Sunday morning, it is still dark outside. What a horror! But this time it wasn’t hard for me to get up for I was on my way to a trip. About an hour later, I was already in Ljubljana, filled up my uncle’s station wagon with my luggage and said goodbye to the rest of my family. On that September morning my mother and I entered the car of my uncle who generously offered to give us – and especially to my giant amount of luggage – a ride to Bratislava, which took us only 4 hours.

Have I mentioned I took the whole wardrobe, if not even more? A big mistake! Clothes, footwear, cosmetics, dishes, a pile of books and dictionaries and also a few of the »necessary« local sweets, etc. Well, I applied for a 10-month student exchange and I didn’t want to leave anything to coincidence. But, of course, while I was already sitting in the car I realized what everything I have forgotten: for example my studying materials from the first year of college in Ljubljana, which I needed a lot…

We were welcomed by a nice Slovak family in a smaller town on the outskirts of Bratislava. My uncle has met them one hot summer on the Pag island in Croatia and introduced them to me in order to make sure I would do fine in the new city. So this is how I met Mrs Marta, Mr Ján and their daughters Zuzana and Daniela.

There were more amazing coincidences connected to our meeting. Firstly, Mrs Marta Botiková is a professor at the Faculty of Arts in Bratislava, which I was about to attended during the exchange. Secondly, it turned out her daughter Zuzana was going to a student exchange to Ljubljana! So at the end of the day my uncle and my mother drove back to Slovenia with Zuzana, while Marta took me to my new future home in Mlynská dolina.

Bratislava, Slovakia4

Bratislava, Slovakia (photo by: T. Malnar)

My roommate Tina who was at the moment a student of the Social Sciences Faculty in Ljubljana, was expecting us at the dorm. We have been already in touch for a few months via internet and made sure to stay in the same room. We hugged as if we had known each other for years. On that day I also ran into my colleagues from the Ljubljana faculty, who were also there to study the Slovak language. Later on Katja – who came to Bratislava to write her thesis – joined us with Tina in the room. Since they have arrived few days before me, they knew how it all worked and quickly introduced me to the timetable and the faculty activities.

Bratislava, Slovakia2

Danube river in Slovakia (photo by: T. Malnar)

The day after my arrival I was already on my way to the Faculty of Arts, which is in the centre of Bratislava. There were no big surprises, I have already visited Bratislava during the excursions with my colleagues and have also seen the faculty. I had a clue about what to expect: all the administration connected to my arrival to Bratislava, potential changes of the learning agreement content and all the other things that belong to moving to a new country and faculty. However, the stress I was going through was obvious. Not only to me, but also to my hairdresser, who has noticed my first grey hair after the exchange. But today, when I look back at it, I can finally smile.

Bratislava, Slovakia

New brige in Bratislava, Slovakia (photo by: T. Malnar)

People have asked me many times about how my exchange was. I always answer that it was great but at the same time I emphasise that it wasn’t all just wonderful. There were many problems which I had to face. I have to admit that sometimes during the first semester I shed a tear or two. And not because I would miss my close ones (thanks to the internet we surprisingly haven’t even noticed the distance) but because in Bratislava I hav found myself in situations in which I didn’t know how to react. I was suddenly all alone in a foreign country. But after all, my experience with the exchange taught me how to be independent and courageous. Now I can go anywhere and I know that I will survive. Well, maybe except for China, in that case I would have to take this statement back.

Studying at the Slovak Faculty of Arts was an interesting experience. I attended the subjects for both foreign and native students. In order to pass the classes for the natives I had to work really hard and I can honestly say that I have invested more work and energy into my studies than I would ever have at home. Therefore I have to disappoint you: I don’t have many fun stories and events from countless student parties about which I could one day be talking to my grandchildren.

What I have noticed was that there weren’t any copy shops in the vicinity of the faculty, while there are plenty of them in Ljubljana. I believe that is somehow connected to the fact that the students (at least as far as the Faculty of Arts is concerned) attend their classes regularly and that is why they are not in the need of copying the notes from each other. I got the feeling that their approach to the studies is somehow more serious and that they take the first exam terms more often.

Well, in spite of the fact that I went to class every morning like a good girl, I still have attended few parties. All the Erasmus students who spent the spring of 2011 in Bratislava will probably remember this period by the world championship in hockey that took place in April and May in the capital of Slovakia. That was when Bratislava was overflown by hockey supporters from all over Europe, including Slovenes. The centre of the town has transformed into a real cosmopolitan capital and the parties went on till late hours. According to my experience, the Slovaks are in comparison to the Slovenes slightly more reserved when it comes to meeting new people, but I am sure that there are some exceptions. Like I have already said, I have made few friends in Bratislava that I managed to keep until today, mostly thanks to the internet. I keep promising to go back and visit them for some years now.

It would be wrong of me not to mention Saša Vojtechová Poklač, the language lecturer of the Slovenian language, who is (with the help from the Slovene embassy in Bratislava) ensuring the promotion of the Slovene language and culture in Slovakia and the development of international and intercultural contacts. Numerous events and meetings at the embassy have helped the foreigner students to accommodate in Bratislava faster and feel like we are at home.

Bratislava, Slovakia5

Bratislava, Slovakia (photo by: T. Malnar)

On the other hand, the Slovaks are used to live more modestly. The Slovenes have truly left the times of Yugoslavia behind and have become consumers with the big capital C. There are no doubts that we have noticeably bigger houses (maybe even too big) and drive good cars, even if they are »over our budget«. In Slovenia many students have their own car, while I haven’t noticed anything like that during my student exchange in Bratislava. The Slovenes also give more money for fashionable clothes. The life standard of Slovaks is lower, which I have noticed soon after my arrival to the dorms. They were modestly equipped and in the desperate need of a thorough renewal. I didn’t trouble myself with that much, I just took it as a part of my experience.

Bratislava is a capital that is waking up from socialism, developing in the spirit of capitalism and opens up many opportunities. I can’t wait to observe its changes and progress the next time I visit.


Tjaša Malnar, 2016