An Impeccable Journey of an Indian Student in Maribor
I always believe studying should not follow any typical paths. Studying abroad is a lifetime experience which teaches you a lot and makes you more independent and confident in life. It can be a wonderful experience. You get a variety of opportunities to learn and evolve during exchange which you might not have thought of experiencing in your home university.
Erasmus for me is not just one word but it is a mix of feelings which I experienced in my exchange program at the University of Maribor, Slovenia. When I first heard about Slovenia, I thought it would be just another small country with very few options to enjoy my Erasmus. When I reached Maribor and purchased my Welcome Week pass offered by the local ESN section, I discovered a lot of things about the city and the country.
Maribor is a very small town, it is easy to explore, and there are not many touristic places. But when I enrolled as an Erasmus student, I met a lot of new friends from different countries which made me feel like Maribor is the most beautiful place to live. From visiting the oldest winery in the world, to trying the Slovenian cuisine near the city centre, climbing up Piramida Hill, and going on night pub crawls in the most splendid pubs, I had a ball of a time in Maribor. I will always remember the bond between me and my international friends and I am sure now it will be like this forever.
The best part of staying in Maribor was seeing the Pohorje Hill during the winter and enjoying snowboarding there. Pohorje Hill is almost 10 km from Maribor, followed by either two hours of climbing, or ten minutes by cable cart. Coming back down is the major adventure as the mountain is covered in snow. I love to experience adventures in life and this was one of the best experiences I had.
I am the type of person who likes to try out new things and see what fits me best. During this exchange program, I tried a lot of European dishes. Although eating bread daily was not my cup of tea, I did try to eat every dish at least once and then make another self-cooked Indian dish the next day. While travelling to other countries, I always focused on trying their sweets and national dishes. There was one event called International Dinner in our Welcome Week, where everyone made and bought something from their mothers’ cookbook. I tried almost 20 different dishes for the first time and marked them in my list to try some more another day. I was staying in a dorm where every floor had a common kitchen and there, I made a lot of buddies who would cook passionately. I used to taste their dishes and also try to recreate them on my own under their guidance.
As an Indian, I knew 3 languages properly but for that part of Europe, English was not that effective in communication. In the country they speak Slovenian, and very few people could speak or even understand English. So, I had to learn the basics in Slovenian, which would help me at least to start a conversation. Of course, this helped me learn a new language. We can say, practice makes perfect or, in this case, exchange improves proficiency. My roommate was Turkish, so he also taught me his native language. Then, during the Welcome Week, we had an event called “Polyglot”, where a random group of 5 people had to talk to each other without using English. There, I learned some phrases in French, Dutch, Spanish and German.
Apart from Maribor, Slovenia has a lot of beautiful locations which share an ancient history like capital city, Ljubljana. The oldest town of Slovenia, Ptuj. The second longest caves in Slovenia, Postojna Caves. Celje Town. The frozen and beautiful Lake Bled and the Southmost Port of Piran. These places are the most beautiful and remain undiscovered. The location of Maribor is also a big advantage for those who are planning to travel the whole of Europe. Just 25 km to the North is Landlocked East Alpine in Austria. 90 km to the North-East is Hungary. 60 km to the East, Croatia and 220 km to the West is the Ancient Roman empire and hotspot to fashion, Italy. One can drive just for a few hours to reach many famous cities like Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb or Venice.
I am a big travel enthusiast and during my 4 months stay in Maribor as an Erasmus student, I went to some famous, undiscovered and some hot destinations in 20 cities among 11 countries in Europe. I had grabbed some coupons from local student organisations, which helped me book tickets at low prices. This way, I was able to afford to travel continuously and explore Europe as I wanted. I tried all sorts of transportation facilities in European cities like the tram, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Cog-wheel Railway, ferry, cruise, trains, Flixbus, and more. I used to travel seamlessly within countries. One more thing I liked during these travels was hostels. At very low prices, I could stay at hostels and enjoy my sight-seeing.
Indeed, studying abroad with the Erasmus Programme was an incredible, impressive and memorable experience. I am so glad that I got this opportunity to shape myself for the future and experience these amazing memories. And, if you are thinking about going on an exchange or are already planning to, then don’t even think about missing the chance. College life is very short and you need to make the best out of it to make a strong memory box.
Written by Pranav Khalikar