This is an unofficial translation of the 2nd part of article from our partners Uniser. Original article in Italian language is available here. We invite you to also read the 1st part of the article, which can be found lower on this page.
Participants of MY FVG - Mobility of Young students for Friuli Venezia Giulia TOURism industry project were doing their work practice in Maribor in February 2020. Here is the 2nd part of their point of view on the whole experience!
I decided to take part in the Erasmus + project because my dream is to go to work (and maybe even study) abroad once I finish high school. For this reason I thought that Erasmus would be the perfect opportunity to test myself in the world of work for the first time, but also to connect myself with new people, learn from them as well and maybe be able to open up a little more. Before leaving I would have loved to be able to go to Perpignan or Paphos, Maribor was the last city in my ranking. This was mainly because of the weather (I definitely prefer the warm climate) and because Maribor is a city that I had already visited in the past, so I would have liked to go to a totally new place. So I can't deny that I was a little disappointed when I found out I was going to Maribor. Anyway, I decided to face this experience in the best way, open to any type of teaching that the city and its inhabitants could offer me. And I'm glad I didn't get down! Because my experience has gone a thousand times better than I ever could expect!
The city surprised me. First of all, I realized how little I remembered from my previous visit; incidentally, only the oldest vine in the world. I can therefore say that my stay in Maribor was a completely new experience for me. I really like the city. It is small and not confusing, very livable, but at the same time it is active and lively. I love having movement around me to feel part of something bigger, which rarely happens in the tiny village where I come from. The outskirts of Maribor also caught me! The bus ride every day was a magical experience for me; thinking about how many different stories intertwine on those seats is a deeply comforting feeling. I love to fantasize about the story of the people I meet or those I don't see physically, but whose tangible traces I can see (even a simple receipt fallen on the bus floor).
Not only did the city surprise me, but also my group. I was afraid of not being able to integrate at the beginning. I am by nature a rather reserved and shy person with people I don't know, but I think I am managing to overcome these limits of mine, also thanks to this project. My companions are all nice and funny and it was a pleasure for me to spend time with them (although I always needed some time to spend alone with myself, to recharge my "social battery" ).
Unfortunately at the beginning of the experience I had some small health problems. Because of this, I was unable to attend training meetings with ZNI and I also had to postpone my job interview and the actual start of the work practice. Either way, I was lucky enough to recover rather quickly to enjoy the rest of the experience to the fullest .
On the first Saturday, Culture Day, I was not at work, unlike many of my other companions, so I and the few left in the dormitory decided to take a tour of the city and maybe discover some new places, or check which museums were open being a national holiday. We visited an art gallery, as small as it is, it is splendid in my eyes. The atmosphere was comfortable and warm and I loved the works on display, which were the result of a course held within the small drawing school. Later we decided to have a drink in a bar and have a conversation together: an excellent opportunity to get to know each other better and get a little more confident! In the evening we met with some guys who had just finished working and had dinner together. Together with mature and not frightened people I was able to face even more thorny speeches; it was a really nice evening.
Speaking of hostel, I found myself very well. I confess that the first impact was not the best, I was afraid of not being able to adapt because the structure certainly did not offer all the comforts of my home. However I must say that I managed to settle in immediately, so much so that when I entered the apartment I had the feeling of being at home. Sharing the spaces with the other girls might have seemed like a challenge before leaving, instead everything worked much better than I thought!
The first Sunday we went on a trip to Pohorje mountain together with another group from Ireland. The trip was organized by ZNI. Fortunately the weather was in our favor, there was a bright sun and it wasn't even too cold, so I was able to enjoy the landscape and the view from the top of the observation tower. I would have liked to see a little more snow though! The only snow that was there was the one on the slopes, and it wasn't natural. The highlight of the day was the skating rink. We decided to go skating together with the Irish group and it was a lot of fun. Actually I don't know how to skate at all, but perhaps this was the beauty of it. Some guys tried to teach me, we danced together on the ice, competed and laughed endlessly.
In the evening, however, I experienced some anxiety at the thought of having to start work the next day. I had never had a work experience before that moment, I had never even had an interview, so I was definitely tense. In hindsight, I can say that anxiety was absolutely unnecessary. I had a great time in my workplace, the MarTura tourist agency. My tutor and the other colleagues were all young, friendly and helpful and immediately made me feel completely at ease. There has never been a time when I felt out of place, and I have always been assigned numerous tasks to never leave me idle. Studying languages I was in charge, together with my classmate Miriam, mainly for translation work (in Italian and German), but also for more particular tasks such as market analysis. I had never heard of them before and I thought I would be in great difficulty, instead I received precise indications and I managed rather well, also receiving many compliments from the tutor.
I think this was a wonderful opportunity that will leave me very much, both professionally and personally.
I was completely involved in the company immediately, which I absolutely did not expect being a simple intern for a couple of weeks. Instead after ten minutes of conversation I had already been proposed to participate in an international tourism fair in Serbia! It would have been a great opportunity, but unfortunately I was unable to participate because I am not yet of legal age. In any case, I could have used the time I spent at the fair to spend time with my companions and to explore the city even better.
On the second Saturday we decided to take a short (but extremely intense) trip to Budapest. It was a wonderful day! In such a short time we have been able to see most of the most important attractions of the city, at least from the outside, and I had a great time. The icing on the cake was the perfect weather conditions to say the least: it looked like a real spring day, hot and sunny. The sky was crystal clear and from the various elevated observation points, such as Citadel and Buda Castle, we could see the whole city. I fell in love with Budapest instantly, as soon as we got off the tram in front of the Central Market, our first stop, and I would love to be able to go back to visit it at its best. During Erasmus there was not only work and effort, but also a lot of fun and personal and cultural enrichment.
Obviously, however, some difficulties were not lacking. The management of the activities, as time went on (very fast!), has become quite complex. Deciding who would cook, wash, do the washing machines and allocate various days to all other commitments (such as reports, internship diary, English course, but also more fun occupations such as dinners in restaurants and visits to museums) wasn't simple, because coordinating a group of eleven people is certainly not like managing the commitments of a single person. This is also a great lesson from the project: learning to live together and share the various tasks to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
The last week has been really intense. Until Wednesday I continued to work at the MarTura agency, but on Thursday I had to change the hosting company because my tutor and his colleague had to leave for the Belgrade fair, where we couldn't go. So, on Thursday, Miriam and I were assigned to another travel agency, the Van Gogh Agency. I also felt comfortable in the new work environment, where I was assigned the revision of Italian translations of the company's tourism programs and a search for Italian travel agencies to contact for any collaborations. However, I must say that I felt more comfortable in the first company, because in my opinion the environment was more friendly and free; I almost didn't feel like working, it was a pleasantly spent time. So maybe it was good for me to experiment with a different context, a little more rigid than the first one. In this way I will be prepared to face different (work) situations in the future.
As for fun, one of the most beautiful evenings of the entire Erasmus period was the one at the Escape Room. It was recommended to us by our magnificent accompanying tutor Sara, who has always been very concerned about our duties but never neglected the pleasures, making the experience rich and unforgettable. The escape room was a lot of fun and one of the most adrenaline and tension (positive) moments of my whole life. It also put our teamworking skills to the test and I think it made us a more united group.Paragraph. Haz clic aquí para editar.
On the last Sunday we went with the Polish and Spanish boys to the Kurentovanje (carnival) of Ptuj . Almost all of us dressed up and attended the parade, watching the characteristic Kurent and many groups from Slovenia and all over Europe parading before us. The day was a lot of fun and I'm happy to have been able to take part; the same applies to all the extra-work activities that have been proposed to us, as they have contributed to making this experience truly interesting and unique.
As I mentioned, however, Sara did not compromise when it came to duties (documents, reports to document the experience, the video presentation of the project ...). In fact, the last week has been very busy also due to all the formalities. I must admit that I have not been very good at managing times and meeting deadlines, but certainly this has served as a useful lesson for the future.
When I found out I was leaving for Maribor, I expected it to be a modern and chaotic city submerged by snow, perhaps because I knew that the world ski championships are usually held in this city. Instead, there was no snow on arrival, the city is quiet and very living-friendly, but despite this, Maribor has offered us many different attractions such as the Escape room, various museums and also several restaurants like the Balkan and Vietnamese. The thing I liked most about this small reality are the multiple bridges in the middle of the city where you can enjoy an incredible view.
As for the internship, I wished to do it in the pastry shop: this was because in the previous internship, I had discovered my passion for this specialization.
On 3 February the moment of departure arrived. Upon arrival, the first impact with the hostel was fantastic, everything was very clean and well maintained and the coexistence with the companions was easy and immediately started well.
In the following days, after the training days, I discovered that I would have spent my internship hours at the Nana Coffee and Bistrot, a bar restaurant located in the central square of Maribor which is usually always very crowded, having many seats inside but also some pretty tables outside. Unfortunately, during the period of my internship, the main square was home to renovations and customers could only sit inside. The work at the beginning did not go in the best way because there were some problems, such as the pastry techniques or the language barrier, which made communication with other employees difficult. For this reason, during the first few days my attitude was not the most positive, despite being a sunny person. The first working week then started uphill.
Fortunately, however, the weekend arrived and I was able to spend some free time with my Erasmus friends. Thanks to ZNI, we went to Pohorje: we climbed the mountain with the cable car and took a walk to see the panorama. Here we made friends with an Erasmus group of Irish people with whom we decided to go ice skating: it was all very nice and fun and time flew by: in the blink of an eye it was already time to go back to work. Before doing so, however, Aurora and Sara, our group leader, looked for a solution to improve our working situation: we downloaded an app with the voice translator in Slovenian and we showed off our best smile as soon as we entered the Nana door. Our technique worked and we broke the ice.
In fact, the second week went much better than the first: I made friends with one of the chefs who started me to entrust more and more complicated tasks, as confidence in me grew. For example, he started to explain all the preparations of the dishes on the menu and even made me prepare some dishes for the customers, including pancakes. Of course, in the dead moments or in those with the greatest turnout when they did not have time to follow me (such as on Valentine's day), I also had to continue to carry out ordinary tasks, but this is also part of the job.
And so another working week was over. On Saturday we chose to go to Budapest . Arriving at the station, we headed straight to the center to start our tour as tourists: first we went to see the central market and then we moved to the Citadel: to reach it we had a nice walk to get to the top, but it was worth it because the view from here is wonderful . After that we went to visit the Buda Castle and the Matthias Church, which surprisingly I really liked it.
Then we saw the shoes on the Danube, Margaret Island where we rented a rickshaw to go around the island and I had a lot of fun, while the Japanese garden was a little disappointing because it did not correspond to what we had seen on the web before departure ... perhaps seen in the summer it would have been more beautiful with all the flowering trees. Finally we went to see the Parliament and the Heroes' Square, really beautiful. It was a very nice experience and I had a lot of fun, for sure I will be back.
In the last week we have done a lot of things in our free time for example we went to eat at the Vietnamese restaurant, for me a new culinary experience that I really liked and we also tried a Balkan restaurant where we ate really delicious typical dishes.
This experience was really beautiful especially thanks to the group leader Sara who made us feel immediately at ease thanks to her very sunny character and always willing to help. This experience certainly made me mature even more because I learned how to live alone and how many things you need to do without the help of your parents, such as washing your kitchen uniform every day and ironing it, getting food, going grocery shopping. I would recommend everyone to have this experience because first of all you have a lot of fun even if you have to work every day, and then because you can do many cultural and recreational activities that make you discover a new world.
Hi, my name is Aurora, I am attending the fourth year of the hotel in Grado and I am studying to become a cook. I chose to participate in Erasmus plus to be able to learn a lot of things in different areas, especially new dishes to cook.
Before leaving for Maribor I expected a beautiful city full of people at any time of day or evening, since it is also a university city. When I arrived, I realized that Maribor is actually quite similar to other places in Slovenia that I have already seen: living not far from the border I had already visited some of them and Maribor did not seem to me to be so different. At first, I wasn't excited about our hostel. Despite this, thanks to my spirit of adaptation I knew that it would not be the biggest problem. Fortunately, coexistence with the others in my group went well from the start and after only one week we have already made friends and made a group and over time this bond has significantly strengthened.
With the internship at the Nana Coffee and Bistrot, the same place where Silvia did it, initially there were some problems such as making yourself understood in a foreign language that I don't know. Later, however, thanks to a voice translator, an app that listens to your voice and immediately translates it into the entered language, we had a significant change: we started talking to the cook on various topics, we translated the terms that made up the orders and we have proved to be much more autonomous. This has led some chefs to trust us more and in fact the tasks have become increasingly demanding and stimulating.
During the first weekend we went to Pohorje, the mountain above Maribor, where the ski world championships are usually held at this time. Precisely for this reason, all of us were excited at the idea of being in the snow for a while, but in reality there was a climate that seemed like spring. We also found that the championships this year would be in another city for this very reason. A little disappointed, we decided to make a change to the day by going ice skating: it was a great choice because we had a lot of fun. The following weekend, on Saturday we went to Budapest , a really beautiful city, full of people and fun opportunities. The thing I liked most was the Heroes' Square and the shoes on the Danube bank.
The Erasmus experience was wonderful, above all because it is a moment of growth, in which new experiences are made and new people are known. This month away from home has made me mature a lot for the simple fact of having to get by myself in every situation, from washing my things independently, to preparing meals even if you are tired ... in short, it offers you a world view from another perspective, without parents being there to help you at all times, even with the support of a tutor ready to give you advice in every moment of need.
Finally, I recommend this experience to everyone because in a month you change your thinking, your lifestyle and make new acquaintances that you would never have thought of before, learning to know people "equal" to you and at the same time also completely "different", so the secret lies in finding the right compromise to be comfortable with everyone in harmony.
Before leaving for Maribor, I expected the city to have a very gloomy climate with little life. Instead when I arrived I found a large city as a whole, but very quiet as Amsterdam and Turin, large cities very suitable for lovers of calm and families.
Maribor is a city rich in history as we could learn from Uros, the guide of the Liberation Museum. He told us a lot of anecdotes about the family who first had electricity, his ties to Hitler and the communist regime period. From the museum you can see the pyramid overlooking Maribor dedicated to Mark Burg, from which then the city took the name Markburg. When Yugoslavia was formed, the city took the name of Maribor: Mar-i-bor which means cure and battle: because of its beauty but also because of the blood that was shed. In addition, Maribor has a very particular feature of having the oldest vine in the world and I was really excited to see it.
I found myself in Maribor really well, it is a city to which Italy must take as an example as punctuality is respect for the highway code.
Our hostel had all the facilities to live well including a gym and it is above all nice to eat together as a family. I was doing my work practice at Nana, a truly professional bistro where I was learning to make real paintings on the coffee drinks: latte art. I felt comfortable around colleagues, which were always ready to teach me everything and to make a wonderful work day without the stress.
There I started understanding that the job of bartender is not only to serve but it is also art!
On the weekend we had fun because we went on an excursion to Pohorje mountain, famous for the ski world championships where I was able to taste goulash. Finally we went ice skating in the city center where after several falls we also tried to dance on the ice.
In the second week we all organized together on the homework to be done in the hostel. At work I made progress with latte art and learned a few words in Slovenian.
During the weekend we did the most awaited thing of the whole trip: the visit to the city of Budapest . We visited practically all the monuments of the city and it was something unique: we saw the citadel, the Buda castle, passing through the Margaret island which is located in the middle of the Danube, where we took a ride with the rickshaw and then did a last trip to Pest, where we visited the wonderful heroes' square and finally, to top it off, the historic Via Pál, an integral part of Ferenc Molnàr's majestic novel.
Unfortunately, the last week of this incredible journey that made me feel free and full of life came. After having regularly carried out my work, we had time to make new experiences, such as the typical Balkan restaurant where we ate together with the Irish boys and the Vietnamese restaurant, which even if it is not native it was like diving for a now in the world of Southeast Asia.
Our group leader Sara proposed and accompanied us to the escape room, where we had to solve logical quizzes to try to get out of the room with a Maribor setting during the plague. On the last Saturday I enjoyed a breathtaking fiery red sunset on the bank of the drava with a lot of swans. On Sunday we participated in the carnival of Ptuj, very beautiful and characteristic.
Finally on the last day we held a final meeting with ZNI on the rooftop garden on top of the skyscraper with an amazing view of the Maribor skyline.
This experience was truly beautiful, especially because it will be unforgettable: it is very educational both from a working and a domestic point of view, in fact you learn to manage your time and your commitments in a completely autonomous way, so you learn that as soon as you do the duty, you will have time to enjoy the pleasure of your free time, in my case with a group that is truly special.
For these reasons I would recommend an Erasmus experience to anyone, an opportunity to discover new mentalities, cultures and traditions!
Hi, my name is Raffaele and on 3 February I left for my first Erasmus experience in Maribor, Slovenia. The first impression of the city was nice, in before arrival I expected a small and quiet town, instead it overcame my expectations, proving to be a much more lively city than I expected. Maribor also has an incredible story, people are really friendly. The first imoression of the hostel was not bad either, except for the receptionist who welcomed us: at first glance she seemed very grumpy and angry, but then I realized that actually "Slovene way" of working is normally a little colder than we are used to in Italy.
The company is wonderful, we made friends immediately the first few days, with some earlier than others, but I couldn't ask for anything better. The work went very well, no problem, there is mutual respect and they make me do various tasks: since I study economics they have entrusted me with the task of cashier, but in addition to that I do a lot of other tasks, like taking inventory, cleaning the products and shelves, helping people find the product they need, arranging the shelves, in addition, the colleagues are really nice, and they speak English very well. Our shop sells handmade souvenirs and typical Slovenian products of excellent quality. It is a pity that in this period there is not a large influx of tourists, probably also due to the cancellation of the world ski championships.
During the weekends, when everyone was free from work commitments, we did various activities: the first Sunday we went to Pohorije , where we met a group of Irish boys. We went for a walk in the mountains, climbed to the top we found an old metal tower, from the tower you could see all of Maribor, a really nice view! After several photos we went to eat, where I took the opportunity to taste new things: I tried the goulash and I must say that it was not bad at all. In the afternoon we went skating, where between falls and races we had a lot of fun.
The second week I started working more independently, I talked with customers and I used the cash register alone, I also had to take care of cleaning the products and shelves and I took care of taking inventory, then I helped colleagues to "produce" some products, in practice I painted a stone that my colleagues appreciated very much, in fact they exhibited it among the products to see.
Over the weekend we went to Budapest , where we saw many monuments such as: the church in the rock, the citadel, the Buda castle, the Pàl street, the general market of Budapest, the Heroes' Square, the shoes on the Danube and many others : it was a great trip, I had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed exploring a new city.
During the third week my job was completely independent, I helped several customers and I used the cash desk alone, I also did the daily earnings account, in addition to the other tasks already mentioned. On Monday and Tuesday we organized ourselves to fill out the internship diary, the logbook and the video, while on Wednesday evening we went to dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant where I tried different types of culinary specialties. On Friday we went to the escape room, where we had to solve several very funny riddles. Afterwards we went to dinner in a Balkan restaurant where I ate the "prebranac" with sausage, a dish made of bean soup, onions and peppers. On Saturday we went to the mall to make the last presents and on Sunday we went to the carnival of Ptuj, where we visited the castle and the collection of weapons and we attended the parade consisting of Kurent and other typical and non-typical masks.
I had a lot of fun in Erasmus and it is an experience that I would recommend to everyone, since it is very formative and educational. The thing that has made me grow more and a tip that I would give to those who have to leave is this: calculate that in addition to the working hours there is also an English course, a report to write about the experience and a video to be made. In addition, every day there is grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning everything, including clothes, all within the closing hours of the shops and the curfew in the hostel. Do not always postpone and give yourself goals to have as much free time as possible because in Erasmus time flies and 3 weeks seem like a lot before leaving but they pass in the blink of an eye.