Foreigners Self-Isolating in Slovenia: Do You Feel Safer? Andy B, from New York City

By , 06 Apr 2020, 13:29 PM Lifestyle
Foreigners Self-Isolating in Slovenia: Do You Feel Safer? Andy B, from New York City All photos from Andy B

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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 Andy B and I’m originally from New York City.  I’ve been living in Slovenia for the past 12 years with my Slovene wife (who I met in the US) and our two boys who are 8 and 12.  Our oldest was born in the US and the youngest was born in Ptuj (a place I still have a problem pronouncing).  I met my wife when she was living in Detroit, MI and attending school.  After finding out where Slovenia was and visiting this lovely country two times, we were married and soon decided to move to Slovenia since she has a larger family here than I do back in the US. Currently I am working as an English teacher with a large language school and teaching both adults and children… now in a virtual environment.

Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

I am with my family, my wife, our 2 boys and our cat, in a relatively large apartment with a balcony in the lovely border town of Rogatec.  Although we are mostly at home, we are able to take walks and we have 2 supermarkets within walking distance.  During the week our boys get school work and are occupied with it for a good part of the day. My wife and I are both working from home, but we have enough computers for everyone. We’ve got conversation, books, board games, PlayStation, phones and other things to keep ourselves entertained.  Am I going to tell you our kids are angels who are playing well together and making creative project together without parental influence? Nope, I’m not. 

My and my wife’s sanity levels are very good. We are calm and managing to approach each day to get what needs to be done. We are not freaking out nor are with putting that kind of stress on our kids. We have the opportunity to go outside and there isn’t a lack of food in the supermarkets.  Quite honestly, I’m looking forward to sitting on the balcony with a nice cold beer as the weather gets warmer. I know my kids are bored and they miss playing football with their friends, but luckily their friends are just a phone call away and they can play video games with them online.

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

I realized it was going to be a big issue when the media started making it a big issue.  Soon after that, the governments around the world started closing schools, restaurants, restricting public gatherings and all the news was focused on death counts in various countries.  Now most of the conversation is about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 because there is not much else to talk about when you see an acquaintance at the supermarket or on a walk.

What is your impression of the way Slovenia is dealing with the crisis?

I feel very safe. Living in the countryside, there is more space (even though one of the outbreak’s hotspots is two big towns away, in Šmarje Pri Jelšah) and in the town of Rogatec, where I live, the supermarkets were very quick to provide hand sanitizer and gloves to its customers.  I think Slovenia is dealing with the crisis relatively well, but I think that has more to do with the character of its citizens than the government.  People here seem to be very resourceful and they seem to be able to easily adapt to a situation like this.  I found it funny that in the US there was a lack of toilet paper and here is Slovenia, there was a lack of yeast.  It just goes to show that Slovenes were thinking of how provide food for their families during this crisis. I mean, without food, there really is no need for toilet paper…right?

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How are things compared to your home country?

That is a really hard question to answer.  The US is a country of 330 million people vs Slovenia, a country of 2 million. Each state in the US has its own government and the concentration of people is much higher in the major cities.  Slovenia has a relatively homogenous population with the general attitude of helping each other out, or at least following instructions. I would imagine that it is much harder to make sure that the varied population in the US is following the guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus.

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

 I believe that because of its size, it is easier for the communication to be quickly passed on to the population. In the evening, my wife watches the news for the latest information and I can rely on publications like this one to provide me with the information that lets me know what is going on.  Again, it’s hard to compare the US and Slovenia. In the US there is 24 hour news channels that are recycling the same stories over and over and probably stressing out people that are constantly watching it.  The communication from the US government is constantly questioned and argued over which just adds another level of stress and confusion to the situation. 

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

I suppose since I’m in a village and not a city, I don’t feel like I’m in self-isolation.  So it’s not so dramatic for me and my family.  We can go and get food when we want, we can go for a walk/bike ride, we’ve got TV/internet/video games/books… I’ve got my guitars, etc. We’ve got everything we need. What we miss is the ability to go to a restaurant or travel somewhere nice for a day trip as the weather gets warmer. Oh, I know… I wish we had bought and installed a dishwashing machine.

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

I haven’t learned anything new about myself because of this crisis. This is just another situation that is part of life that we need to figure out a solution for or to manage how to deal with it.  I approach this problem as I would any other… rationally and trying to figure out what needs to be done to keep life for my family as relatively normal as possible.

My high opinion of the population of Rogatec was reinforced by the way that everyone is working together to make sure that we make our day to day interactions limited and safe for everyone.  I’m impressed with the stores, and especially with the people who work in them, that they are still doing business as usual, albeit from behind a Plexiglas partition and everyone wearing gloves and masks.  This small town solidarity is something that I’ve never really experienced before moving to Slovenia, and I appreciate it.

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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