My Erasmus+ journey to Ljubljana began when I saw the offer for an internship on the international office website of the University of Bremen. I was about to graduate quite soon and I was looking for some new challenges for my life after university. On the website I found a description for a Graphic Design internship with a further focus on UX and UI Design, which fitted perfectly my interests and previous experiences. So I got in contact with Andrej Zupanec, the CEO of “Triforce Ventures”, a young start-up from the city of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It turned out that Andrej actually studied in the same master programme in Bremen as me and was looking for students from the same degree to help him with building up his start-up. From his time in Bremen he knew about the focus of the programme and the required skill set, which fitted his company’s needs very well. I graduated two weeks before I actually left for Ljubljana and the timing was perfect for me as I wanted to get some more practical experiences after writing my master thesis and before looking for a job.
After my successful Skype interview, I started looking for a place to live. As my internship planned on starting in mid of September I was in the same time frame as the Erasmus exchange students, whose semester started at the end of September. As I was part of the Erasmus+ programme I was also eligible for similar benefits as the exchange students. This was a huge benefit for me, as it made it very easy to connect with young people and also take part in their events.
Although finding a private shared apparent (“WG”) was a bit tricky, as most people there were looking for someone, who is staying for a longer time period as me. For my apartment hunt I joined many different Facebook groups – there are many of them – and also check different housing platforms. I found my final place to live on “erasmusu.com”, which lists flats and shared apartments tailored for Erasmus students. There I found the “Aladin Hostel”, which hosts – beside being a regular hostel – also Erasmus students for the period of their stay. The hostel prices are quite cheap. For a single room (with a shared kitchen und bathroom) I paid monthly 240€. Moreover, the hostel is situated in the district of Šiška, which was quite convenient for my work, as I could take the bike through the Tivoli park on my way to work. As my neighbours were also there for their Erasmus, it was easy to make new friends. The hostel itself is not of the highest standard (especially the windows were poorly isolated), but I did not expect that for this price. However, I have to praise the hostel owner Tim, who was all the time super helpful and friendly and he made my stay very comfortable. All in all, the hostel as a good fit for me and my needs there.
I am more than happy with my choice of company. As the start-up team is rather small with three employees, I had great insights into the organisation of a start-up and the team highly valued my opinions. All members was super friendly; they cared a lot about my professional development and even helped me with career tipps beyond my internship. From the start my boss helped me out with a few things to settle my life in Ljubljana, like getting a Slovenian SIM card, the “Studenski Bon” (see below) for food, the public transport card etc.
As my internship was advertised for “Graphic Design” most of my tasks were Design-based, but it was not limited by that. I was also the UX, UI, Logo and Corporate Designer of the start-up. This enabled me to try out and practise various application areas, which helped me a lot to grow professionally. Another benefit of my work placement were the flexible and comfortable working hours, which started mostly at 10 AM and ended at 4/5 PM. As start-up are usually short in budget, I did not get a competitive salary, but my lunch, public transportation and field trips were covered. Moreover, the Erasmus+ scholarship covered my rent, so that was convenient.
My boss is a very active and motivated person, so he was also eager to include some “extras” for me. We went on a flied trip to Venice to visit the “Biennale” to gather inspirational ideas and concepts; we went to a cryptocurrency conference – as Slovenia is a hotspot for cryptocurrencies; and he invited some extern professionals, like a Theater and Stage Designer and a well-known Slovenian Actor.
All in all, I benefited from my internship at “Triforce Ventures” a lot and gained new skills and insights.
Living in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a small capital, but a very charming one. Especially during the summer months it is a very nice place with many possibilities to relax in the park areas and at the river side. One of the benefits of its size is the mode of transportation. Many people are taking the bike there (there is also a “City Bike” company with very fair prices) and you can easily walk around the city centre. One of my favourite places is the castle “Ljubljana Grad”, which overlooks the city and on clear days the close mountain range can be admired from up there.
For using the public transport system I purchased a “Urbana” card, but only the top-up version. The monthly card was not attractive for me, as I mostly took my bike. The public transport in Ljubljana is alright as there are “only” busses, but its covers the most important parts of the town. However, during the late evening it is a bit more difficult to get back home due to the limited time table, but luckily the taxi prices are reasonable.
The monthly “Urbana” card is especially attractive for students, who take the bus on a daily bases, as it is a monthly flat-rate. For getting this card you need a certificate of a Slovenian university proving that you are a student there. Or if you use the bus less often you can get the same the top-up card as I did, which is available for everyone and cost you one time 2€ and then ca. 1,20€ per ride. The top-up card can be bought at multiple kiosks, most of them are right next to a bus station.
Probably one of my best decisions was to take my bike from home, as I love to bike in the mornings. As I am not the biggest fan of public transport I highly appreciated to have this option and be less depending on the time table and the stuffed (especially in the winter season) busses. Moreover, my shortest way to work was through the Tivoli Park and there was not a good bus connection for that. Although Ljubljana has a well established public bike system, I preferred to have my own one. If you do not want to or can not bring your bike, there are many possibilities to get one there by checking the Facebook groups etc.
One of the best thing about the student life in Ljubljana is the “Studenski Bon”. Every student (or even Erasmus+ interns) can get this discount. You only need a Slovenian SIM card and your proof of immatriculation or a learning agreement (in my case the Erasmus+ internship contract was enough, but I also had some help from my boss for translating etc.). The student discount is valid for restaurant student offers, which is super convenient. Quite many restaurants support this and you get, e.g., a very delicious Thai curry with a soup for 4€ instead of 7,5€. Apart from the food offer, some free gym classes are also included, which are only accessible for the exchange students, who are enrolled there, and not for the interns.
The Erasmus life is quite vivid in Ljubljana. The ESN is very active there, various events are organised, like field trips to the country side or even trips abroad for good prices, parties or city tours. You can subscribe to their newsletter or keep yourself update by following their Facebook activities or join their groups. Their Social Media service is very fast and helpful, I can recommend contacting them via Facebook for getting a fast response.
To sum everything up, I can recommend Ljubljana as an Erasmus destination. Although, I would now choose to stay there during the summer period, as autumn and winter are a bit bleak there. I especially liked my choice of company for my internship, as I learned a lot and gained many new insights, which I highly values and also helped me professionally.