Where are you from, and how did you end up in Slovenia?
I’m from Rieti, a small town about 80 km from Rome, one of the five provinces of Lazio. I lived there all my life, until I went to university, then I moved to Rome, but I still went home at the weekends. Then I spent a year with Erasmus, studying in Murcia, Spain, just next to Andalucía. I went there and I didn’t know Spanish, and my English was really bad. I went there to experience life abroad, and the whole Erasmus scene, but I learned Spanish pretty fast, because it’s close to Italian. I also lived with two Polish guys, and that was lucky. They were really patient and helped with my English. And in Murcia that’s where I met Lucija, from Laško. We started dating, then she had to go back to Slovenia, and I thought that was it. But then when I went home for Easter I took a flight to Rome via Trieste and we met again. Then she came to visit me in Spain, and we kept seeing each other when I moved back to Italy, back and forth, for three years. For that first year Lucija was still a student in Ljubljana, with the studentski boni [subsidised meals for students], so every time I came to visit we’d eat good, order food every four hours.
When did you move here?
I first moved to Ljubljana in late 2014 for an internship. This was paid by my region in Italy. It was for one year, with six months abroad and then six months in your own town. I got a small amount of money, again paid by my region, and so I worked for the company for free. Some kind of European regional fund project, to learn something and then take it back to your community, although I did exactly the opposite. The internship here was in Logatec, in the same company where I work now, MŽ Consulting & Fairs. They represent Italian exhibitions in the Balkan region, this is the core business, and it was a good fit for me. I did six months in Logatec, then six months in Italy, with a crazy company, and then I came back to Slovenia to live in 2015, after I finished my masters in International Business Administration. So finding work here was easy. Because I had the internship I could show my abilities before the company had to pay any money. Otherwise, I don’t know what it’s like starting from zero, although the unemployment rate here is low, much lower than in Italy.
Did you have any problems with culture shock?
With Slovenia it was not, let’s say, love at first sight, but I liked it more and more. It’s really close to Italy, but culturally it’s completely different. I mean, Italy and Spain are both Latin countries, so there are similar ideas about time, much more relaxed and about, say, how a waiter interacts with a customer. Here it seemed much more impersonal, with no relationship, whereas in these other countries they are more welcoming. At first I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, maybe I had offended the waiter in some way, but then I realised this is just the way people relate to the customers here. And maybe this is better, not so fake, more direct. However, it took me quite a long time to get used to the culture here, to learn some of the language. Much longer than Spain, and let’s say I’m still the process of adjusting.
What do you like about life here?
For me Slovenia is a very comfortable country, and what I like the most is that you don’t feel any big differences in social class, and maybe this is one heritage of socialism. I don’t see people who are too rich, with a Ferrari and so on. But on the other side, this means it’s not so good for your pay, because if you earn a lot then you’ll be taxed a lot. This helps keep things more balanced, but it also discourages people from being entrepreneurial, and maybe encourages them to work abroad, like Germany. That said, the bureaucracy here, it’s bad, but a lot better than Italy. It’s easy to win against Italy in this regard.
What about the food?
Before I came to Slovenia I always worked for my family. They work with pork, we cook the whole pig, porchetta, or odojek in Slovene, and sell it in markets all around the province, like Ljubljana Market, those trucks with fried fish, but with pig. I really like that, and so I have no real problems with the food here, although I think they use too much fat and salt, which is really tasty, but not so good for health. If there’s any food I miss, then I cook it at home, and I bring olive oil from Italy, because we have some of the best near my hometown. My region is famous for it. For the cheese and wine, I can live without it, but there’s lots of good stuff. Every day I eat lunch in my workplace, the boss’s mother cooks, and that’s really nice, simple food, which we all eat together. I like Slovenian food - ćevapi, burek, all the worst stuff.
When in Rieti, eat like a Rietan - Eduardo's father at work
And where do you like to travel?
Well, Lucija is from Laško, and we go there a lot to see her parents, which is good for me, because I’m crazy about spas. We have them in Italy, but they’re not so popular, more for therapy than for holidays and relaxing. Beyond that, like the coast, of course, because of the seaside. To be honest, I made more trips at the beginning, every weekend somewhere new, but now, not so much. I’d recommend Goriška Brda, though, next to Italy, with lots of vineyards.
What about Ljubljana, where do you like to go?
For Ljubljana, I like to go to Kavarna SEM, at the Ethnographic Museum. It’s near my home and nice to sit outside, then the places by the river, of course, and Slovenska Hiša, which I like because you can get some aperitif with all kinds of Slovenian food, and beer, and it’s cheap.
Would you recommend to a friend that they move to Slovenia?
If you try and move here without any personal relationships, then I think it’s not so easy. For a visit, yes, of course. I have friends, and my parents, who really like it here, but others, not so much. But just to move here, for no reason – it’s crazy.
Finally, do you think you’ll live here the rest of your life?
I don’t know. I don’t exclude it. My girlfriend is quite Slovenian and she doesn’t want to move, although she’s learning Italian, just as I’m learning Slovene.