This is an unofficial translation of an article from our partners Uniser. Original article in Italian language is available here.
As part of the MY FVG - Mobility of Young students for Friuli Venezia Giulia TOURism industry project, in February 2020, 10 young people left for Maribor to carry out internships in various areas of tourism-related work, including sales, hotel business, catering, marketing, international relations, languages, but also to have a life experience that, as they tell us themselves, they will take with them forever. Read participants' perspectives on their mobility bellow.
On 3 February 2020 my group and I left for Maribor. From the pre-departure meeting I had already made my mind of what the city would have been, with a cold climate full of interesting things to discover. We were immediately greeted in a fantastic way, when our ZNI coordinator came to pick us upon arrival to Maribor.
The first days were a little tiring for me: sleeping in a another bed, living with 10 people almost completely unknown and above all, adapting to their needs such as choosing together what to eat for dinner. During the first days we had training meetings and courses on work safety at ZNI and one day after the interview with my company tutor I started working at the hotel to which I was assigned: the Hotel Mlada Lipa. Despite some difficulties in communicating in English, I enjoyed it and they were teaching me a lot of things in the kitchen.
During the first week we made many tours around the city, we visited a museum where the curator told us about some very interesting things about Maribor in the Second World War and we went to eat in two pubs in the center. Sunday was the best day, we went to visit Mountain Pohorje, where, after taking the cable car lift, we walked to the top, climbed a tower and saw all of Maribor, a fantastic view.
The second week was much easier for me, I became familiar with the transport system and the city streets, during the days of work I had a lot of fun and the kitchen staff, as well as explaining everything I had to do, they taught me many things and new working techniques. What I like most about my work environment is that there is a positive atmosphere where people laugh and joke while working, and not a harsh climate where you have to work in silence. At work I also discovered new vegetables that I had never seen and used in Italy, such as celeriac and beetroot; I discovered new kitchen equipment such as a latest generation touch-screen oven with the screen, where you can set the type cooking for a certain food, I also discovered a self-heating blender.
In the second week my relationship with my group improved a lot, we laughed and joked together while doing all the activities we have to do such as shopping and preparing dinner. On Saturday we woke up early to go on a trip to Budapest, where we spent the whole day. Once we arrived, we visited the so-called "Citadel", considered one of the most panoramic places to observe the whole city from above, then we moved to the Church of San Mattia, a truly fantastic construction, a bit like all buildings of the city: each building had something special that I liked very much and reminded me of every city I had already visited.
The third week was the most beautiful, especially at work, the Hotel staff was fantastic, both in the kitchen and in the dining room, we joked and laughed together even if there was the problem of the language barrier. They taught me many things like: filleting fish and cleaning it, cutting and cleaning chicken breasts and making pizza and I'm very happy to have learned these things because they were the only things I still didn't know how to do independently. I also improved my technique of cutting food and sharpening knives with a steel knife. The kitchen staff also taught me to improve my technique of preparing their typical appetizers and how to roll them in the right way with foil as with pork fillets after flavoring, typical of their pre-cooking procedure.
The relationship with my group has improved a lot since the first few weeks, especially in the organization of shopping, cooking, washing dishes and doing group tasks. We also had the opportunity to visit many places in Maribor such as the escape room, where we had a lot of fun.
During the week we also tried two new restaurants, one typical of the area and one of Vietnamese cuisine, which in my opinion were fantastic especially because my passion is cooking, therefore discovering new tastes and flavors is always a great satisfaction for me. On Sunday we went to see the carnival of Ptuj, we also saw the castle and the weapons inside preserved very well. The carnival was fantastic because it was the day of the world carnival and therefore we had the opportunity to see every type of carnival typical of the territory and of Europe: from the typical French carnival to the Austrian one with the krampus and their typical clothes or the typical carnival of Sardinia.
I liked this experience very much, both in the recreational and in the working environment, where I improved to live with other people and to adapt to them and their needs.
Before leaving for Erasmus I was very anticipated but also very excited at the idea of having this experience. I can't even say what I expected, I was open to every possibility, and I only hoped to get on well with my companions, otherwise I would have adapted. Finally, February 3 had arrived.
We left and I have to say that my first impression was very positive. Since the first day I have bonded a lot with my roommate, and in general we all started to open up to each other. We all got along very well and we always had a lot of fun and our group leader was just the best, so from this point of view I was really happy.
As for the hostel, it was nice and welcoming, also we were lucky enough to stay on the ground floor, which in my opinion was the best area of the whole hostel. The city of Maribor also impressed me positively, it is nice and it was easy to understand how to find your way, even it took us a while to understand how transport worked, but once we understood we started to feel at home.
After the various training courses with ZNI, my job interview took place on Thursday 6 February. I was quite worried because I study economics and international relations for marketing, but at school we never did a lesson on marketing and I had a company "Rdeča oranža" that works mainly in this sector. This concern of mine passed when I met my tutor, my colleagues and the company in general. The next day I started doing work practice and they taught me the basics of using Photoshop, I edited various photos with this program and I wrote announcements regarding these photos. The office where I was doing work practice is well furnished and my colleagues have always been available to help me in case of need .
Sunday, 9 February we went to Pohorje, the Maribor mountain range. My roommate and I had layers and layers of clothes on us, for fear that it was cold, instead the weather was magnificent, it seemed like a spring day. We got on the cable car and the view was really nice, too bad there was no snow though. Afterwards we took a long walk and arrived at the highest point of Pohorje, from there you could see all of Maribor! Finally, we ate in a nearby restaurant where the food was very good and, to end the day with a flourish, we went ice skating. It was my first time ever but despite the initial difficulties I had a great time and all in all this first week could not have gone better!
During the second week in Maribor, I completely immersed myself in the world of work. I developed the understanding of what it feels like to work and be independent. Try to get by without, for example, the help of parents. And when I saw that I could do it, this was a conquest for me.
At work I became more and more open and I no longer felt as shy as the first few days. In addition to editing photos and writing announcements, they gave me another task: writing articles on the various 2020 marketing trends. The best thing, however, was when my tutor offered me to write an additional article for his marketing book he is writing: this proposal made me feel really important and competent and not just a 17 year old girl who is having her first work experience .
The best thing about the second week was the trip to Budapest, where we stayed on Saturday 15 February. During this trip we all showed good organizational skills, since we were able to see as many things as possible even if we were only there one day, among other things, with all the tiredness. It was a wonderful trip, Budapest is too beautiful and all the tiredness and effort was worth it! An experience to never forget.
The last week was the liveliest one, in which we did several things. At work I learned to use other programs and the photos I edited were then published on the company's Instagram profile. In our spare time we tried a Vietnamese restaurant and a Balkan one located in the center, where I ate the best Balkan food of my life, and if I say so as a Macedonian, it's true!
Over the weekend we went to visit the museum of optical illusions that although it was quite fun, there were several illusions that left you speechless and that in words you cannot describe. Sunday, February 23 we went to Ptuj, a Slovenian city known above all for the carnival, of which the typical mask are the "Kurent". We went with other groups like us: a Polish group, a Spanish and another Italian. It was very interesting, especially after discovering that other European countries also participated in the carnival.
But surely the best experience this week was going to the Maribor escape room. The escape room is a kind of game in which you immerse yourself and you must try to go out by solving various puzzles and riddles that vary depending on the theme you have chosen. I must admit that in some parts it was scary but for the rest we laughed and squeezed the brain to solve all those puzzles and above all we saw a great collaborative ability in us. Because we could never have done it alone.
This experience has been of great help to me, both to grow on a cultural and work level and as a person. At work I learned many things and I always felt useful. Even with my companions the same thing, I hope to never lose contact with them and to find ourselves all together every now and then and laugh as before.
Thank you so much to those who gave me the opportunity to participate in this project, I thank our group leader Sara - without her it would never have been so interesting! - and I thank my companions for being always available for me in case of need.
This experience opened the world to me, it was useful for many things: I made a very strong friendship with others, I learned to feel more confident about myself, I learned to be more spontaneous and not to be afraid of making mistakes.
I will never forget all of this!
When I participated in the Erasmus selection, I was very hoping to go to Perpignan, and I cannot deny my disappointment when I found out that I had been selected for Maribor. As much as I found it a nice and welcoming city, it was not what I expected from the announcement, but nevertheless I was curious about what this experience would bring me. I had not realized how real it was until I attended the pre-departure meeting in Udine with the other boys and our tutor Sara: from that moment I did nothing but think about the departure, full of worries. My fears were many: What if I didn't feel comfortable at work? What if I don't like other participants of my group? What if I can't integrate ? It was a totally new experience for me and I was quite afraid of it, but on the other hand I knew I needed it to grow.
When the fateful day of departure arrived, I was a bundle of nerves! Right from the start, however, I understood that I was in a group of pleasant people and that our group leader was not a simple boss but was trying to forge a relationship with us by supporting us in our experience. The hostel exceeded my expectations, especially the kitchen area, which gives me a home atmosphere. The first days, between training courses, city tours and beloved spas, almost seemed like a vacation and a moment to relax and prepare, until the internship began. From this point of view I consider myself really lucky, because I found people who are truly available and who make me feel at ease, make me have fun and at the same time teach me many things.The hotel where I did my work practice is really nice, but the atmosphere is even more so: I didn't feel like just an intern on duty, but like someone they can't wait to teach many things. The relationship between us companions got closer and closer, also with our tutor Sara. The thing that surprised me is the relationship with my roommate, whom I didn't know at all but we never separated.
The trip to Pohorje on the first Sunday made me have a lot of fun (as well as struggling for the climbs), because then we went to the skating rink in the center and I think it will be one of the best memories of this experience.
During the second week, the situation at work was a bit flat but this gave me the opportunity to talk more with colleagues, who never fail to make me always feel at ease, as well as giving me advice for my future career. At home, we kids made tables to organize ourselves by cleaning the common areas and the kitchen, which allowed us to be more mentally organized and understand when we have more free time; we also decided on the dishes of the week and how to combine leisure activities with those required by the Erasmus plan.
Finally, on Saturday we went to Budapest, our organized trip: it was a wonderful experience, much better than I expected. Despite the absurd times at which we found ourselves leaving, the adrenaline rushed and I felt very energetic all day, ready to discover a new city.
The third and final week was in my opinion the most interesting. In the hotel we had many more customers than the previous week, which led me to put the things I learned into practice. It was also the most beautiful in terms of food: on Wednesday evening we went to the Vietnamese restaurant, while on Friday in the Balkan, which was definitely my favorite, I didn't expect it to be so good! That same day we went to the Escape Room: it was the funniest thing of the whole experience, and we had to collaborate a lot to get out (strictly late)!
On Sunday we went with ZNI (the host organization) to the Ptuj Carnival, where we attended the parade of the various masks, including the typical Kurent and also the international ones (we found the Italians which made us happy).
In general, this experience has served me and made me grow a lot: living with ten people in a foreign country has greatly opened my mind and future prospects. I understood, in fact, that the path I had set myself may not be the one I want, I feel more mature, determined and full of news that will remain with me forever.
I thank you for having decided to undertake this journey and I am grateful for it; in the end Maribor will always remain in my heart, as well as everything we have gone through here. It was worth it.
Hi, I'm Vasile, I live in Monfalcone and I'm attending the fourth year at the Einaudi technical and commercial school in Staranzano.
Before coming here to Maribor, honestly I expected a boring city and that people only spoke in Slovenian, but I was pleasantly surprised. The city is more lively than expected and if you start socializing with the locals you can have fun easily. Almost all young people have a high English language level and therefore talking to them is not a problem at all, in fact when I had the opportunity I always talked to someone to pass the time.
The first few days were a bit difficult, but over time I got used to the city environment. Speaking of the internship, which is why I came there, I am very happy with the place that has been assigned to me. The company that was hosting me is Verus d.o.o., a marketing agency that has been in business since 2003. I thought I would be in a very formal environment and with people focused only on their work. In short, I was afraid that they would force me to make only photocopies and therefore have a marginal role but it was not so. Verus is a really nice company and my workmates as well as the tutor are very friendly. I was assigned to the office and they immediately asked me to translate documents, make flyers and market research. I was even invited to a promotion event and to accompany my tutor to Ljubljana for a meeting with the other members. The last Friday I went to a middle school for a typical Slovenian food preparation event where I also had the opportunity to taste what was cooked. When I finish my school path I would really like to find a job with a climate similar to that of Verus.
The extra activities I did have been varied and I will report my favorites here:
In chronological order the first activity was the city tour and to follow the visit to the museum of the history of Maribor. The exploration tour did not excite me too much but the visit to the museum was fantastic. Uros, the guide, explained the history of Maribor to us in a very interesting way, also adapting it to our interests. A really very good guide that made us laugh but also reflect on history in general. As a second event we had the trip to Pohorje. Later, together with my Erasmus companions, we went skating. It was my first time on skates and, although with a few falls, I had a lot of fun.
The third important trip was the trip to Ljubljana together with my work tutor who allowed me to participate in the meeting with the members that was held there, and then explore the city. I really liked the fact that the important buildings of the city are very close and therefore it was possible to see many of them in the short time I had. In addition, I made new friends, 2 girls I met made me a tour guide. I can never thank them enough.
The excursion that most excited me during this mobility was the trip to Budapest. We had a bit of a problem with ticket reservations and permits to go there, but everything ended well. A truly fantastic city full of history. The buildings were beautiful and I think I almost filled the phone's memory with photos to capture their beauty.
On Friday 21/2 we went to the Escape room of Maribor and I had a lot of fun solving the assigned puzzles and we managed to escape 3 minutes early.
As a last excursion we went to Ptuj. My companions and I wanted to go there on our own but we were fortunate to be invited there by the very kind ZNI team. We went up to the castle and then to the carnival parade. It was a nice parade but the thing I liked the most was the "kurent", a really fantastic traditional custome in Slovenia.
Throughout this month we have almost always eaten together in the kitchen of the dormitories where we had a lot of laughs telling what we did during the day. Few times we have gone out to eat and I can say that the food here is not bad. The best restaurant in my opinion was the Balkan, "Etno hiša Baščaršija". We also went to "Patrick's pub" and "Okus Vietnama". This concludes my report with which I can confirm that all in all it was a very good idea to come to Maribor. For all those who will have the opportunity to come to this city, I advise you not to get caught up in prejudice and think that it will not be a good experience because I had a lot of fun also thanks to the fact that I built an excellent relationship with my Erasmus companions and therefore it was really nice to spend time with them. The important thing is to be active and participate in the activities that you will have the opportunity to carry out.
I decided to participate in Erasmus plus because I wanted to improve my English level as I attend a language high school where three languages are studied: English, German and Spanish. In addition, I would love to become an interpreter, so being able to participate in this experience immediately seemed like a very good opportunity.
When I arrived in Maribor I immediately had a good impact with the city because initially I would have expected a little chaos and smog since it is still a city. I immediately changed my mind: it is a very clean, green and welcoming city.
I realized this in particular when we did the city tour with the tutors of ZNI; I immediately thought that this city was one of those where you can live in tranquility and peace. Also, during the city tour, we went to a museum where the curator and guide (a very cultured and funny man) explained the history of Maribor to us.
Sharing accommodation with my group companions was excellent because we all tied up, without excluding anyone from the group.
The first week I did the interview in the hosting company to which ZNI had assigned me. This agency deals with bus travel abroad in countries such as Austria, Italy and also has relations with China. Since my tutor was already ill on the day of the interview she told me to start working the following week.
For 2 days I explored the city: while walking with my tutor and other kids we met a small but very nice art exhibition, created by students and we visited it. During the weekend we also went to Pohorje mountain above Maribor with a group of Irish boys.
I think the second week was even better than the first. The tutor of the agency that was supposed to welcome me was not yet healed so they transferred me to another agency that deals with advertising the Slovenian territory. I had a great time from the first moment since they welcomed me as if I had been one of them. I immediately started to work: the first task was to make a market analysis regarding Austria and Italy. During the following days, however, they gave me the task of translating various types of brochures into Italian, German and Hungarian.
In addition to work, we also had a wonderful day trip to Budapest . We took the bus and arrived in Budapest at 8.00 in the main station. From there we went to the Central Market and then continued to Cittadella and the Budapest Castle near which there was the Matthias temple. In the afternoon we crossed the Lánchíd and then we went to Margaret Island. We had a lot of fun there because we took a rickshaw ride for about half an hour. After Margaret Island we visited the Heroes' Square and finally went to the Via Pál. Sunday was the most idle day of the week, but we deserved it, because we were all very good.
Unfortunately, the last week of our experience has arrived. On Monday I found out that I was going to spend only three days in the agency where I worked for a week and I was a bit sad because I felt like I was at home now. The next day they transferred me to another office, which is located right in the center of the city and deals with travel mainly to the Balkans. Here too I found myself very well, because even here they welcomed me as if I had been one of them, even if a part of me, however, had remained in the other agency. Despite this I was highly motivated to work there also because the purpose of the project is to learn and then to have fun.
Friday night we went to the Escape Room in Maribor and after this incredible experience we went to have dinner in the Balkan. The food was delicious, truly overwhelming. On Saturday, together with a couple of non-working kids and the tutor, we went to the museum of optical illusions, an extraordinary museum that opened my mind to many scientific things. In the evening of the same day I went to the bank of the Drava river and it was the best moment of my life: the river was pink, illuminated by the sunset ... at that moment I was the happiest person in the world.
On Sunday we went to Ptuj, a small but welcoming town. We all dressed up as something funny as it was Carnival. We went up to Ptuj Castle from which we could admire the view, a relaxing view. After an hour we got off and went to the city center to see the parade. It was very beautiful and fun; most of the people present were all in disguise and the sweetest thing was all those smiling, carefree children ... they brought me a lot of happiness.
Tuesday evening, the last day of our experience, the last hours of our internship, we said goodbye to all those who accompanied us on this fantastic journey. Unfortunately all this is over, but a part of my heart will remain here forever ... I enjoyed this trip to the fullest and I leave without remorse.