Foreigners Self-Isolating in Slovenia: Do You Feel Safer? Adam E. from Houston, Texas

By , 03 Apr 2020, 12:30 PM Lifestyle
Foreigners Self-Isolating in Slovenia: Do You Feel Safer? Adam E. from Houston, Texas All photos Adam E

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Do foreigners in Slovenia feel more or less safe sitting out covid-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? All the stories in this series are here. If you' like to contribute, see here or at the end of the story

Who are you, and how did you come to be here?

I’m Adam E., and American expat from Houston, TX.  I’ve been living in Slovenia since Christmas Day, 2018, but didn’t move here directly from the USA.  I’ve been bouncing around Europe for the past 10 years or so, teaching English, working in tourism, and getting my Master’s Degree in Anglophone Literature and Literary Theory.  I currently work for a children’s book publishing company based in Ljubljana.

Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

I feel very, very fortunate with how I’m currently doing.  I know things could be a lot worse.  I’ve been sheltering in place since March 13th (incidentally Friday the 13th).  I’m in my apartment with my girlfriend and our kitten, so thankfully I’m not alone.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s been smooth sailing the whole time.  To be perfectly frank, we’re both getting a little stir-crazy, but we also understand that we all need to sacrifice something for the greater good.  So, if that means staying at home and taking the necessary measures to protect the most vulnerable, so be it.

When did you realise that coronavirus was going to be a big issue?

I spent the month of January and most of February in the United States finalizing my Slovenian visa.  I could tell then that COVID-19 was going to be a global issue, not just one affecting China.  My return flight was through Charles de Gaulle in late February, and, by this time, there had already been a few reported cases in France, so I wanted to take every precaution I could.  I had two N95 masks at my house in Houston from a painting project my family had done awhile back, so I wore one of those and washed my hands every chance I could.

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What is your impression of the way Slovenia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now I’m no political commentator, but, from what I’ve been reading about some of the measures the Slovenian government has been taking, it seems like they’re doing a great job of turning extraordinary circumstances into a great opportunity to enrich themselves and enact quasi-draconian measures that would never have been able to get passed otherwise.  I remember when 9/11 happened in the USA, and the Bush administration enacted the Patriot Act, one of the grossest breaches of civil liberties and the right to privacy ever in the history of the USA, to resounding applause from most (but not all) of the general public.  I’m afraid the same thing might be happening here under our very noses, and I’m also afraid I’m showing my hand in terms of which way I lean politically.

With that being said, there has been far more transparency and coherence regarding the government’s response to the virus directly.  It’s been clear which steps are being debated, and the results of those debates are released to the public both in Slovenian and in English.  These measures seem to be slowing the spread of the virus, which can only be a good thing.  They took quick, decisive action, and it’s saving lives.  However, there is one caveat.  It’s been reported that there has been far more clarity in the messages written in Slovenian compared to English.  And while I’m a very happy guest in this country, my Slovenian is not good at all, which has led to some slight confusion on my part about what I should be doing.  Other than that, and the aforementioned political scheming, I’ve felt safe and like there are grown-ups in charge.

How does that compare with America?

The response in Slovenia is diametrically opposed to what I’ve been seeing coming out of the USA, which, pardon my language, has been a shit-show at the best of times.  It really never was going to be anything but that if you see it as part of a nearly 4-year continuum, but I sincerely hoped that it wouldn’t be as bad as it is.  The steps taken here in Slovenia were decisive, the word of experts was heeded, and there has been a modicum of transparency about what has been happening.  America?  How much time do y’all have?  It’s a prime example of a failure of leadership from the highest people in power.  Luckily we have a more federalized system of government, and states’ governors have stepped in to fill the leadership void left by the blowhole-in-chief, but without that, COVID-19 could (and still can be) an absolute disaster in the USA in terms of loss of life. 

There has been no sense of what we as a nation should be doing.  Furthermore, everything has become so politicized in the United States that if it’s the right thing to do but delivered on the wrong channel depending on how you sway politically, it’s dead wrong.  At the very beginning, in early January, Fox News was claiming that COVID-19 was a leftist scare tactic.  I truly hope things will get better, but I highly doubt it, and that is incredibly depressing and disheartening.

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What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation?

There isn’t much we’re lacking for here where I live in Ljubljana, but there’s one thing I do wish I had during self-isolation, and that is a yard.  I live in an apartment, so to have some grass, a bit of space outside, that would be fantastic.  The weather is getting nicer, so to be able to go outside and garden or kick a soccer ball around, that would be most welcome.  Other than that, I feel very fortunate to have so many local delivery services around to get fresh, local produce, a meal every once in a while, and some really nice local wines as well.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis?

What I’ve learned about myself is that, when it comes to self-isolation, I’m pretty good at keeping away from others.  I’m a social person, so I thought it would be very difficult to not see friends, but I’ve had some amazing conversations with my cat, and she’s now bilingual in English and Slovene, so apparently I’m a good teacher as well.  I’ve also been impressed with how the vast majority of Slovenians are doing their part to take care of each other.  Sure, there have been some exceptions to the rules, but for the most part, it appears that they’re all taking this very seriously and pitching in whenever or however they’re needed.  Maybe it’s culturally significant that this is Ex-Yugoslavia and collective action might be part of their social DNA, or maybe it’s just because they’re a more neighbourly people, I don’t know, but I’ve learned a lot about solidarity, and I must say that I’m very grateful to be here during these difficult and uncertain times.

If you’d like to contribute to this series please answer the following questions and include a paragraph about yourself and where you’re from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum (including at least one of yourself) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Subject: Corona Foreigner.

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that coronavirus was going to be a big issue?

What is your impression of the way Slovenia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Slovenia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis.

 

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