So. We arrived in the lovely city of Ljubljana three days ago, around 2:00 PM. We stumbled to our hostel (where we are still residing) called Celica, a former prison, and spent the rest of the day exploring our new home.
First impressions? The city is fairly laid back, with pockets of intense pedestrian activity coupled with incredibly fast cars speeding past you at the intersections. Unlike London, where it is always active, Ljubljana does have the occasional oasis.
The photo on your left is good example. Yesterday we hiked up to the Ljublanski grad, a castle situated on a hill overlooking the entire city. The walk up is beautiful, with little painted cottages mixed with sizable estates crammed together on either side of the road leading up the hill. The view is awesome; you can see the entire city.
This is our faculty. The building is only a few months old, with decent-sized classrooms and designed to look like a research facility from the future. Which is great. Also, there's dorms on the top floors. Living in the same building where you study? That's nuts! We checked in on our first day, then found the International Office (in an another part of town in the student service building) and got our student cards and bus passes. Also, students are entitled to meal vouchers at certain restaurants and shops. For a few Euros (I don't remember the amount) you get as many tickets to cover all the working days of the month. Okay, so far so good, right?
The next step is finding a home. The International Office offers a home-finding service: someone looks up the flats available in the classifieds that match your preferences and calls them up to arrange a meeting with the potential tenant. Fair enough. We were sent to a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city near a "thermoelectric" power plant, in the industrial area. Although the apartment buildings were decent enough, the one we looked at had writing scrawled all over the walls, angry people yelling at us in the foyer (Lisa tells the the story better) and the best part: when we entered a darkened hallway, which is traditional here - no one keeps the hall lights on in apartment buildings, someone on the other side of the wall started an incredibly loud power drill, sending a horrible, metallic grinding sound reverberating all through the hallway. We nearly jumped out of our pants. We dashed out and caught a bus back to the city.
We were pretty demoralized. Today we're hanging out in my current favourite café beside the student services building, waiting for the housing coordinator to show up at the office. Last night, we had a few drinks with someone I met through the exchange program who lives in the city. She's taking off for a month, but left us in the care of her friends. We were told finding an apartment in this city is difficult, but not impossible. An Australian offered us an apartment in the old town for sixty Euros a day. Yeah, nice part of town but a little out of our price range. But we do have some locals keeping an eye out for us now, plus the student housing folks are working for us too. It is only a matter of time.
Nonetheless, we are happy.