Avtor: LEIGH SAN JUAN
I have decided to answer all the questions that I am asked over and over again in order to explain a little a bit about me.
What are you doing here? Why did you come here? Why did you decide to come here?
I first came to Slovenia in 2007 on an Erasmus exchange. It appealed to my sense of adventure to visit a country I knew nothing about. I had read You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers about a man who decides to spend his inheritance by travelling to obscure places around the world giving away all the money and felt inspired to take a similar if not slightly different adventure.
Before choosing the Erasmus location, students from the year above came to make an informal presentation about their experience. The students who had been to Ljubljana painted a picture of a city full of friendly, open people who were excited to meet foreigners and great student benefits. It was enough to convince me and 5 other classmates. On the 2nd of January 2007, we arrived for a 3 month exchange. For me it was love at first sight, crumbling architecture, cute winding streets, great weather, friendly people, parties, and long lunches paid for by student coupons.
During the exchange, I met a Slovene guy and moved back to Slovenia in 2008 and have been here (with a period of absence from 2013 to 2016) since. I started working as an English teacher in 2009 and have been happily teaching English (as well as occasionally teaching yoga to adults and art, media, and animation to kids) ever since. Teaching suits my outgoing, social personality and satisfies my desire to help people develop themselves.
Where are you from?
I’m from Dublin, Ireland. Ireland is a republic entirely separate from the UK and because of this, we prefer not to be referred as being from the British Isles (just in case you were thinking of it). Dublin is a beautiful, vibrant city of 1 million people, full of history, culture, and architecture, divided by the river Liffey into North and South. I grew up in south Dublin, next to the beaches and bathing places of Dun Laoghaire and Sandycove. It’s a place full of history and tradition, where the writer James Joyce lived and wrote about South Dublin in his books in Dubliner and Ulysses. Swimming in the freezing cold but refreshing sea was a huge part of my childhood, and I recommend it to anyone thinking of visiting Ireland/Dublin.
Why don’t you have an Irish accent?
I’m from south Dublin which is one of the first parts of Ireland occupied by the British. One of the things that they left behind was Hiberno-English which is a more English influenced style of accent. A lot of people think I sound American. Oh well.
What about the North of Ireland?
The north of Ireland is part of the UK. The population have UK passports and are ruled by the government of the UK. There is no longer widespread violence like in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s, but there still is gang related crime and political instability. It is no longer an issue which affects the daily lives of the people in the Republic of Ireland.
What do you think of Slovenia, Slovenians?
Slovenia stole my heart from the very start and I’m still enchanted by this country. I like how much care people here take of their environment and how simply people live here compared to my experience in Ireland. Also one of the differences between Irish people and Slovenes is how frugal people are (or maybe it’s just the company I keep). People seem make do with less and enjoy themselves as much, if not more. Another thing I like about Slovenia is how many traditions and customs are very much alive here and how people feel such strong connection to their environment. Since Ireland was occupied so intensely for such a long time (600 years), we lost our connection to our language ‘Gaeilge’ and maybe because of that, people don’t respect the natural environment with as much pride as I see here in Slovenia.
Are you going to stay here forever?
When I am asked this question, I usually ask the same of the person who asked me. Who can actually really answer that question? But honestly, the longer I am here the more I feel also connected to Slovenia. Maybe forever, but we’ll see what happens.
Do you speak Slovene? Slovene is a difficult language, isn’t it?
Ja, govorim malo slovensko. Lahko bi bilo boljše, ampak znam komunicirati in to je dovolj zame. Zelo je težko zaradi sklonov, ampak Slovenci so zelo hvaležni in prijazni, če govoriš slovensko.
Do you like working at LanguageSitter®?
This isn’t a typical question asked by people in general but I’m going to answer it anyway. Working at a company with a positive and lively atmosphere is very important to me. At LanguageSitter® a huge effort is made to make it feel like a supportive, encouraging environment focused on good working practices and combined goals. I feel proud to be part of such a great company. Thanks, guys!
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