About three months ago when I had been here for a mere three days, I spoke with someone about my move here and they brought up how Slovenia and America are very different. At first I just shrugged my shoulders. I guess? Any two countries are going to be different. But as I thought more about what he said, I realized that I couldn’t think of any similarities between the two countries. Nothing. Nič.
I guess in my mind the two countries were similar because they are both developed, but when I really started thinking about each country and its norms and quirks and everything else that makes a country a country, I realized how vastly different the two are.
For starters, the languages. Obviously. I don’t even need to point that out. And of course there is size. Slovenia is itty bitty. It only takes four hours to drive from one end of the country to other. Drive five hours in Texas, and guess what? You’re still in Texas.
While Slovenia is small, there are many different dialects depending on the region or city you come from. This causes a lot of difference in speech from city to city. It’s pretty crazy. The region my mother is from is called “Prekmurje.” It’s in the very northeastern part of the country, the head of the chicken if you will, and the dialect they speak there is so different from pure Slovene that Slovenes from other parts of the country cannot understand it. It’s basically its own language. It has a name and everything (Prekmurščina)! Now take the US. It’s pretty big. But do dialects exist? Not at all. Just some accents and a few different words. In Texas we say “y’all” while in the north they say “you guys.” Some Americans say “pop” while others say “soda.” But these are almost negligible.
My theory (that I came up with moments before writing this) has to do with Slovenia having influence from so many other languages. They border Hungary, Croatia, Italy, and Austria. That’s a lot of different languages. And Slovenia is tiny, making it easy for these languages to permeate. In the US, we may border different states, but we all speak English. Also, the majority of US states are much larger than Slovenia. So dialects are somewhat of a foreign concept for us. At least for me. I still don’t quite get them.
The mailmen here ride bikes with compartments attached to the wheels somehow that carry all the mail. Some ride motor bikes as well. I think this is funny but in a cute way. In my hometown, all the mailmen and women drive.
The students here go home every single weekend. Something I find a bit bizarre and would never want to do myself. I mean just think of all the packing and repacking and money spent on bus tickets, and for only a day or two? But as I mentioned earlier, Slovenia is tiny. Making trips across the country isn’t nearly as big of a hassle as it would be in the US. Also not nearly as expensive. Many students study in Ljubljana, which is a very central location for the country, and thus trips home are only two and a half hours at the most. There is also a lot more emphasis on family in Slovenia. In the US, parents basically kick their children out of the house at the age of eighteen. Whether this is said to children or not, it’s still a societal expectation. In Slovenia, it’s a lot more common for kids to live at home past the age of “legal adult.”
Lunch is the big meal. I really like this and have chosen to adopt it. It makes more sense and means no cooking or preparing food in the evening. I always thought dinner was somewhat of a useless meal anyway. Who actually has the time and energy for that? And what do we need that energy for? Going to sleep? Instead I just snack on one thing or another.
In terms of homes, it’s standard to wear slippers, there are no closets (just wardrobes and dressers), and balconies are much more common. In the US, most people go around the house barefoot or in socks or even shoes. Most rooms come with a closet, and sadly balconies are a rarity. They’re typically only found in nicer and more expensive homes (or apartments). Lame.
Slovenia and really just Europe in general are a lot more “green.” They separate their trash into five different bins. FIVE! Trash, paper, plastic, glass, and compost. I love this about Slovenia and wish the US would adopt a similar system. We only have recycling and trash and sadly, this causes a lot more waste within the country. My two Swedish friends told me in Sweden they separate their trash into even more specific categories. The US needs to step up its game.
Something I find amusing about Slovenes (or maybe it’s just my family) is that they are always concerned about whether I’ve had enough to eat. I could tell them I’m full a million and half times and they would still offer me more food. I always end up giving in. I can only say no so many times before I feel rude.
There are many more differences I could list. There are some I cannot think of at the moment that I know in a few days I’ll be like, “Oh yeah! I could have written about that!” So maybe a part 2 will be coming your way? We shall see.
Merry Christmas everyone!