October 16, 2018
The Erasmus scheme lets students from countries within the EU travel and study abroad, with a fair number choosing to do so in the Slovenian capital, bringing some welcome international spirit to the university, and doing their part to move the European project forward, while having, so it seems, a lot of fun.
With classes now having started again we decided to learn more about the program, and so got in touch Julien Chemin, who came to Ljubljana as an Erasmus student and was determined to make the best use of this time here.
Where do you come from, and how did you get involved with Erasmus?
I am a French Student at Kedge Business School in Bordeaux. I got involved in the Erasmus by studying International Business at the Faculty of Economy of Ljubljana (also called FELU). Once I participated in an event and then eventually decided to propose my help. This is how I started to be really involved with the YOLO Team.
How do students benefit from the Erasmus program, academically and in other ways?
The first benefit I can see is the cultural differences. Even though we are in Slovenia, we work together with all kind of nationalities. The expectations and the spirit are not the same from one country to another. It’s also an occasion for you to build a network. By this, I mean that you sometimes create links that you will keep forever.
For everyone, it’s a very great way to improve your English, since as you are studying in English, you have to understand what you are doing. The professors also bring you another perspective, since they have their own view about – in my case – the economy and business world in general.
What is also important about Erasmus is that it brings you values. As we all say during the Erasmus: “Sharing is caring”. This does not only includes old exams, courses and advice, but also experiences, cultures and food.
What kind of support does Erasmus offer students in Ljubljana?
With regard to housing, Erasmus offers a very good opportunity since there are usually cheap dorms. To be honest, this is not very convenient if you like to have a lot of privacy but it’s Erasmus, so why not try it!
Outside of dorms, as far as I can see, if you do not looking early enough then it is hard to find a private room in Ljubljana because of the many scams. However, if you start looking early, a lot of Facebook posts can help you and our team is always here to answer questions (especially Sara).
About the food, you benefit a lot in Ljubljana because, as an Erasmus student you’ve got the “boni” deal, which allows you to eat a nice dish for 3 - 4€. This is really useful, because you can use them almost any time and you have one each weekday, so five a week. (Learn more about the “boni” system here.)
Finally, the social support you get is huge. If you come as an Erasmus student alone in Ljubljana, you will never leave alone. There are many trips organized by the YOLO Team which not only allow us to discover Slovenia but also to meet a lot of people. The other big part are the events. Every Thursday night is the Erasmus party, where you can always find new people. You usually have to follow a theme during this event to make it even more fun. Once I came with a white and green beard and hair for the Irish party.
What advice would you give to a new Erasmus student, how to make best use of their time here?
Well, on of the most important thing is to make friends. If you do so, then you will have a huge network of international people.
The second advice I would give is: take the time travel. As most Erasmus students do, you have a lot of opportunities, a lot of trips organized. I love organizing trips because there’s always something happening that will make you remember it forever. Another advice is to do a trip organized by YOLO. since you will discover Slovenian culture. When I go on our trips, I always discover some part of Slovenia I’ve never heard of before.
Erasmus is also an occasion to learn from people. For instance, you can learn work techniques to be more efficient.
But the biggest advice I can give is: don’t be shy! Even though I am 100% sure you will meet people, it’s important that you go to people and present yourself, so that you don’t miss out on all the opportunities available to you.
What events do you organize?
The main event we organize is the Thursday evening party. Every Thursday there is a party organized in a nightclub with a theme, and pictures are taken. It starts with old pictures taken the year before to promote the event on Facebook and WhatsApp. Then we take pictures when no one is there to show what the place looks like, and finally we take pictures of people during the party (with them).
As far as I can remember, one of the biggest events was the Beer Olympics, which consists in drinking beers fast and with style. Of course, the number 1 Team is rewarded.
What events are most fun for you?
Well I really love St Patrick’s Day. This day, I colored my hair and beard in white and green. It was a crazy event because at that time I was sharing my flat with three amazing Irish girls. That put us in the mood to party.
I also loved the Beer Olympics, since I was the one with the microphone to keep it lively it. It’s really fun and people enjoy these games.
In general, to me, the best events remain when you go to a nightclub for the first time and you don’t know anyone. It’s crazy how easy it is to make friends when you are in Erasmus.
Apart from Bled, where should people visit outside of Ljubljana?
This is for me one of the best part about Slovenia: travelling around is as easy as finding friends in Erasmus. Obviously, I have travelled all around Slovenia, and I can recommend Bohinj Lake, which is a bigger one than Bled, but also Postojna, which is a really impressive cave, Predjama – a castle in the rock – and a lot more! But my favorite is to go around Soča River, which has amazing colors and a very clean water.
However, this is just inside Slovenia. During summer or spring, I advise everyone to go to Croatia (only 1h 15min to the border) and to Split and do a road trip along the coast! I also loved Sarajevo in Bosnia, which was very wild, and Montenegro, which is also one of my favorite destinations.
During the winter semester, I enjoyed a lot going to snowboard in the Slovenian Alps, but you can find better snow in Austria. It’s also close to go to Budapest for some party time, and visit and Bratislava to discover Slovakia. If you are a fan of architecture, Vienna is heaven.
Finally – some bars, clubs, places to eat and hang out – where do you like to go in Ljubljana?
There are many bars in Ljubljana. As far as I know, the best ones are in the center because they are close to the clubs. I don’t have a favorite bar, it depends on the mood; My favorite club in the center is Gig. If you want the fanciest club in town, you might want to go to Top 6. If you are a fan of underground techno, you better go to K4.
Finally, if you just want to chill outside and meet some people, drink beers and listen to old rock songs or metal, you might want to go to Metelkova, which has a bunch of bars and clubs and people chilling, drinking and smoking outside.
One of my favorite things is the outdoor event every Friday, Open Kitchen. Many restaurants from all over Ljubljana set up stalls behind the cathedral and offer many types of food, which gives you a large choice.
Finally, you must hit the streets in December, because there is a lot of mulled wine in and nice stands.