There are two approaches to life – you can follow the crowd and rely on fate, or you can get the upper hand and change the situation yourself, regardless of the environmental context. Alyona Sultanova has chosen the second path and she has something to share with us.
In March 2020, Alyona made a decision to enter a university in Slovenia. Together with 2TM, she chose study programmes of interest and prepared documents for admission. Alyona participated in our language courses. In October 2020, she received a residence permit and came to Slovenia. Now, she has safely started the academic process. The move to Slovenia and the beginning of studies fell to Alyona as well as to many other students at a difficult time – closed borders, constantly changing requirements for entering countries, the need for medical analyses and additional documents due to the pandemic. In an interview for our website, Alyona shared her impressions of this situation, the beginning of her studies and life in a new country.
– Alyona, why have you decided to choose this particular programme in this particular country? How have you come to know about Slovenia?
– I initially wanted to develop my career as a manager. Earlier in Russia, I received a secondary vocational education as a financier, after which I wanted to study economics and business in more depth. To be honest, I discovered Slovenia quite by accident. I was considering Europe, of course, comparing different countries according to the price criterion. Slovenia seemed to be the most favourable country because it is safe, the prices are not too high and nature is amazing, which is of great importance to me.
– How long have you been in Slovenia?
– I arrived here on 16 October 2020, quite recently.
– This begs the question of whether you had any difficulties with documents and border crossing in the light of the current pandemic situation.
– Oh, I just had a bunch of difficulties with the documents because, due to the pandemic, all institutions in Russia were closed, the deadlines were extended… I want to warn you right away, if you need an apostille for documents, try to apply for it as soon as possible.
However, there were no problems at all with crossing the border – for two reasons mainly. Firstly, I received a residence permit and only then flew to Slovenia. Secondly, I had all documents for admission to the university. I also passed a coronavirus test and received an international certificate demonstrating a negative result. Although no one has ever checked my certificate – apparently, at the moment, students can enter Slovenia without a certificate, and there is no need to follow the quarantine restrictions.
– Did you attend language courses before starting your studies? What advice can you give to future students in terms of language learning?
– Yes, I attended distance courses of the Slovenian language with Professor Nastja Radoš. I would like to tell you more about this amazing person because she is just a wonderful teacher. If you want to travel to Slovenia and are wondering how to learn the language, then I highly recommend Nastja. During such linguistic courses, students are often treated as people who just need to be provided with some information and nothing more. Moreover, this information is often of a more theoretical nature (for example, in Russia, as a rule, a lot of theory is given while the practical aspect is scarce). The first thing that struck me during the courses was the study of practical phrases and sentences – how to ask for directions, how to tell about yourself, how to receive the necessary information in a shopping centre. This knowledge is currently of great help to us. I was also pleasantly surprised by what attention Nastja tries to pay to each student, what valuable advice she gives. Frankly speaking, many Slovenes are reserved people. Sometimes it may seem that they are unfriendly or cold but, in fact, most of them are very kind. Nastja convinces foreigners that in Slovenia, they will be helped and prompted if they have any question.
– How is the academic process organised at your university and at your faculty – both in general and taking into account the coronavirus crisis?
– At my university, we are currently studying at online lectures, which I can attend directly or watch later in Moodle. I study part-time, so I have about 8 lectures in each subject, then some time to prepare for the exam, and the examination. Alma Mater is mainly attended by people who already have families, jobs, their own businesses and at the same time are in need of additional education. The university understands this, so we have a lot of private time for part-time jobs and the like. For example, my lectures in the first subject ended on 15 October and the exam is scheduled for 12 November. In the interval between these dates we have free time.
– Is it easy for you to study?
– I could not say that it is easy, since I have literally just arrived in Slovenia, and very soon I will take an exam in one of the most difficult subjects for every foreigner – commercial law. Since this is pure terminology, I must urgently learn the Slovenian language in order to pass the exam orally, can you imagine? True, when it was required to hand over a report for a seminar, they met me halfway, and I was able to hand it over in English.
– What, in your opinion, are the advantages of Slovenian/European universities?
– First of all, the advantage probably lies in the study of practical things – those that are guaranteed to be useful in the future in your profession or life in general. This is the first thing that I noticed during the short period of my studies.
– What are your impressions of Slovenia? How does it make you feel?
– I have not lived here long enough to fully answer this question but my first impression is quite positive. To be honest, I am pleasantly shocked by the kindness of the locals… and by the swans in Maribor (laughs – ed.).When I arrived at the hotel ahead of time, they tried to settle me immediately, explained where all the attractions of Ljubljana were located (I first arrived in Ljubljana), provided with useful information about quarantine… I remember how they helped me check into the hostel although I also arrived very early, how at the checkout in the supermarket they let me go ahead because I had few products, or how we ate in the street with my friends and strangers wished us bon appetite… Such things are new to me but they make me feel good!