Where did you live before Slovenia, and what brought you here?
I was born in Iran and moved to the UK when I was two years old. I lived in Cumbria until the age of 15 and then moved to London. My mum moved the family to London so I could fulfil my dreams of working in television, and opportunities for this are plentiful there. My husband is Slovenian and, to be honest, if i didn’t meet him, I wouldn’t know much about Slovenia, if anything at all. After he and I got together, we visited many times until we eventually moved here.
What were your first impressions of Slovenia, and how do they compare with what you think now?
In 2012, early in our relationship, my husband brought me a book about Slovenia. The images were breath-taking. He also brought me gibanica and a bottle of pumpkin seed oil. I loved them, but I’d never been to Slovenia and barely knew anything about it.
I first came here in 2013 and I fell in love straight away! I loved the vibe, the energy and hospitality of the people, how clean the country was, how easy it was to get around, the amazing places to see, the food, the fresh air - pretty much everything. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like. I’ve seen more of it now, met more people, made more friends and learned more. I fall in love with Slovenia more and more as time goes on.
What do you wish someone had told you before you moved here?
I wish I had the contacts I do now. I wish I had done more intense research before coming here so I would have been to more events and met people much earlier. I advise anyone who’s moving to another country to do as much research and create connections online prior to making your move more enjoyable, so you’ll settle in faster in the areas that are important to you, and for me that’s business.
Have you started to learn Slovene?
I’ve been hearing and listening to Slovenian for almost six years now so I’ve managed to pick up a few words. I haven’t yet mastered sentences or verbs, but I started classes in February and because of my experience with the language I’m finding them quite easy. I’ve heard several times that it’s a difficult language, and I can understand why so I’m even more motivated to learn.
What methods do you use to learn it?
I ask my husband and friends how to say things and I ask for translations almost every day and listen to people’s conversations. I Google Translate a lot of things, my mother-in-law only speaks to me in Slovenian, and like I said, I’ve started classes.
How did you start looking for work here, and what was that experience like?
I have my own online speaker trainer business. I teach business owners how to deliver effective and persuasive presentations to help leverage time, reach more people and make a bigger impact.
But I love doing live events, and at first I didn’t see a market for it here and I wasn’t looking in the right places, so I gave up the idea of doing those. Then I met someone and he pointed me in the right direction and introduced me to so many different people that eventually I realised that there is an opportunity for me to bring my business here, do live events and teach what I know and love in Slovenia. And that’s what I’ve started to do.
You have a young son, how is he settling in?
My son loves Slovenia (or as he calls it, ‘Felinia’). He loves čevapčiči, the road trips we take - we try to go out of Ljubljana as often as possible. He loves visiting his babi in Novo Mesto, skiing, Atlantis, Tivoli park, the castles, the various workshops for children. Slovenia is definitely one of the world’s most child-friendly countries, so as a family we pretty much settled in immediately.
What are some things from Slovenia you think your home country could benefit from?
How to deal with snow! London goes into a complete shutdown when it snows - trains stop running, major traffic jams and people don’t turn up for work. I was in Kranjska Gora a few weeks ago and it snowed heavily overnight. People started dealing with it effectively the following morning - they just started clearing the snow. By 11am, people were driving normally. Life doesn’t have to stop when it snows - and London can definitely learn a thing or two about this.
The UK can definitely have more cool spots and things to do for young children. For example, my son loves Mala Ulica in Ljubljana- nothing like that exists in London and at such a low price. He also ended up in hospital a few weeks ago they had a huge room in the paediatric wing filled with so many toys, activities and teachers. He loved it! I’ve never seen such a room in any medical centre in London. Also, cheaper cinema tickets, so an evening out costs much less than in London.
And what are some thing from your home country that you think Slovenia could benefit from?
All I can think of is how the country is marketed. I can understand why it isn’t so loud for Slovenia, but it’s such a gem of a country, and I think more people would appreciate visiting and experiencing what it has to offer. Also, I’m yet to understand why we need to drive with lights on when it’s fully bright outside. I sometimes forget to turn the lights on and I get flashed by other drivers. I’m getting much better now, though.
Where are some of your favourite places to visit here?
My favourite part of Slovenia is definitely Ljubljana - I’m a city girl. But Slovenia as a whole is such a beautiful country, it’s difficult to pick one or two places. I love Bled, I love the castles here, Bohinj is stunning, I learned to ski in Kranjska Gora, I love driving to Novo Mesto and Savica Waterfall is amazing! I really love all of it. As a family, we try to take as many road trips as possible.
How do you feel about Slovenian food and drink?
I love Slovenian cuisine. I’ve learned to cook quite a few Slovenian dishes. My mother-in-law’s dishes are amazing and I picked up various recipes from her such as goveja juha, bucna juha, goveji golaz and testani krompir. I really enjoy cooking and eating Slovenian food.
However, something I'm still trying to get over is eating horse. I couldn't believe it at first that it’s on the menu in Slovenia. Unfortunately, I did try some - I was tricked into it - but never again!
What things frustrate you about life in Slovenia?
The thing I don’t like about Slovenia is how cars can turn left or right at a green light the same time as pedestrians can cross. I think this should be stopped to allow cars to cross without putting pedestrians, and drivers, at risk. Sometimes cyclists race across whilst a car is turning, and it’s pretty dangerous. Someone once told me that they’re planning to get rid of this system, so I hope they do it soon.
And what things delight you?
I love how in Ljubljana you can get so much done in one day! Obviously, the fact that it’s small plays a huge part in that. I also feel super productive here. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but like I said, there’s something about the energy here.
Would you advise a friend to move to Slovenia?
I always do, especially friends with children. Every person I’ve spoken to who has kids and have moved to Slovenia love how easy life is here. When I tell people about the country, they think it’s too good to be true.
So do you think you’ll stay in Slovenia for the rest of your life?
I don’t plan so far ahead. Moving to Slovenia was a last-minute decision. I know for a fact that I’ll be spending a lot of time in Slovenia even if I don’t ‘live’ here forever. But for now and the foreseeable future Ljubljana is home, and I love it that way.
Where can people find out more about you and your work?