This ICCE student completed an eight-day peer-coaching course in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They were awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of their placement.
In August of 2019 I travelled to Ljubljana in Slovenia for an 8-day peer-coaching course. I found the course through the Erasmus website, and it seemed to be one of the only peer-coaching training programmes in Europe. The course was organised by a company called Primera, and they are one of the kindest, most thoughtful training providers I’ve ever worked with. There were so many little details – they bought us croissants every morning, they organised a trip to show us less well-known parts of Slovenia, they adapted the training to suit each person’s needs, at one point the trainer even offered to lend one of my course mates her car!
Although the training was academically very useful for me and has progressed my understanding of the topic, the highlight for me was working closely with so many Europeans (I was the only British person on the course). It enabled me to understand how open, multi-cultural, and outward looking a lot of European people are, and I noticed a real difference in their outlook as compared to British citizens. I have tried to take this new perspective home with me, and to take more of an interest in things happening outside my immediate bubble. Another highlight was the food! I had a few absolutely incredible meals there, normally in restaurants recommended by the training providers or people on my course.
One of the big differences was the slightly slower pace. One of the Slovenian women commented that she found it so strange in London that we buy a coffee and then drink it as we walk along the street – ‘how can you appreciate how it tastes?!’. Ljubljana was a busy, exciting city to be in, but I felt that everyone was able to spend a bit more time focusing on the present. I really appreciated talking to the other people on my course and understanding their perspectives and how their lives are both similar and different to my own.
The main challenge I faced was that I caught a cold, and was quite ill for most of the trip. Although the training providers were very helpful and bought me medicine, little things like not being able to find cough medicine in a supermarket (they sell it in separate pharmacies) was difficult and made me miss the familiarity of home.
For students who are heading abroad, I’d recommend trying to stay close to the centre of town. To save money I stayed in the suburbs, and while it was nice to see a bit more of the city, it did mean I had to spend time on the bus commuting each day. Though, this did give me a sense of achievement: I worked out how to buy a season ticket and understand the bus network on my own. I’m glad I saved up some money so that I could eat out. It meant I got to try the local cuisine, and it was also nice to be able to sit, buy a coffee, watch the world go by, and really enjoy being there.
At the end of the training, my partner flew out to Slovenia and we spent three days at Lake Bled, which was incredibly beautiful and relaxing. As Slovenia is so small, it’s very easy to get around, and as they have so many tourists from all over Europe, everyone communicates in English. I’ve fallen in love with Slovenia and can’t wait to return and revisit the coast and the mountains.