Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Final Days in Ljubljana

First and Last Day of School - 

Can you spot the differences?

Our time in Ljubljana has come to an end.  Hvala lepa to the many people, in Ljubljana and back home, whose love, friendship and support made this a great year for all four of us - and Bobo too.

A few thoughts on teaching for the first time in almost 20 years:
Teaching is a really hard, but incredibly rewarding job.  It was a rough first semester, but my skills and ability to handle the stress got better with time and practice.  I especially enjoyed teaching History and Writing.  With our tiny class sizes I got to know each student well and was able to give lots of individual attention.  New policy idea: lighter loads for first-year teachers!

Things I will miss about Ljubljana and Slovenia: 
The friends we've made; the church bells ringing; the Alps; the greenness; Tivoli Park; biking everywhere; Ljubljana's delightful Center; being so close to all of Europe; excellent low-cost wine; high quality affordable food for all; our small but very international school; a sense of anonymity; thermal spas and saunas; the outdoorsy culture -  everyone gardens, walks, hikes, bikes, skis.  And excellent cakes - I will miss those!

Things I won't miss about Ljubljana:
Living really close to the train tracks; feeling foreign, disoriented, incompetent and disconnected; being far from family and friends; all the smokers.

Things I will be appreciate more than ever when we get back to the USA -  Family and Friends!  Plus good Mexican food; Old City Java; the Smokies; knowing how things work; exchanging smiles and greetings with random people (a superficial practice according to Slovenes, but I still like it).

One big lesson learned is to be patient, with myself and with transitions generally.  Things that frustrated me initially don't bother me much at all anymore, and in some cases I think the Slovene way is better.  Examples: lots of waiting in lines; lots of bureaucracy; store hours based on worker, not consumer, convenience; no smiling at strangers; no paying at the pump; most business conducted by phone or in-person not the internet; communal interests trump individual interests; cars stop at cross walks, bikes get priority, people are incredibly patient and mostly kind and helpful.

I think Ben will share some thoughts soon.

Poslovite Slovenije do naslednjega časa!