My first foray into Slovenian academics has been part stressful, part surprising but mostly rewarding. The two classes I wanted to register for were a bust: Protection of Minorities is only half-taught in English. The part taught in Slovene, which looks at minorities in Slovenia, was the reason I wanted to attend. The class goes on a field trip to minority communities and write on topics relating to the treatment of minorities in this country. The section taught in English has an international scope, and that's not really my focus. The second class, Sociology of the Arts, isn't available at all.
However, my current classes are equally exciting. I'm taking Sociology of Everyday Life, which is pretty self-explanatory; Sociology of Sexuality, again, the course name says it all; Theory of Ideology, a political theory course that incorporates cultural and social theory; and Literary Journalism, a class taught by a working journalist on the techniques used in this particular genre. If I'm going to continue in journalism, in some fashion, this is what I'm interested in.
The classes are structured much like home, although I only have one exam. Classes are once a week, from one to three and a half hours, and essentially the classes use lectures, group discussion and projects as pedagogical methods. The profs teach in English, although some are a little embarrassed because they feel as though their language skills are inadequate. I have never had a problem understanding them, though. Some of them ask me for reference while they lecture and despite my own embarrassment of being singled out as the "outsider" (never mind there's other international students in the class) it is nice being the class expert.
There are some differences. The schedule lists the times and days for classes, but that's just for the first meeting. Some profs move the time and day around after the first week, which makes it confusing for students who missed the first day. Also, you need to get a membership for the library. Each faculty, located in a different building scattered across the city (unlike UBC, where all the buildings are clustered together), has its own library. International students used to buy memberships, but that policy changed last year and now it's free.
If a class has less than ten students, the prof doesn't cancel the class. Instead, the students meet with the prof for a one-on-one consultation. That is cool, and Canadian universities should consider that approach. However, I do feel as though I'm taking grad level courses here. Most of the work is done out of class, and topics for projects are completely freestyle. I know some profs teaching undergrad courses have the same technique, but generally that's not the case. There are no textbooks, by the way. All the readings must either come out of the library (my copy of The Social Construction of Reality is one) or the prof leaves a master copy at the copy center for students to pick up, for a nominal fee. Sometimes profs upload texts online for yout to download, like a piece by Wallerstein.
My faculty (Faulteta za druzbene vede, or Faculty of Social Sciences) is not the only one with a sociology department. There's also the Filozokska faulteta (Faculty of Arts) which offers courses like Sociology of Drama. I take it that department focuses on cultural studies, whereas my faculty tends to lean towards . . . I really don't know, since my faculty also teaches Sociology of the Arts and Cultural Anthropology. The structure is confusing, because my home department is in one building and under one faculty. It's not like the situation is blowing my mind or anything, but I'm curious about the philosophy the structures the university in such a way.
As time goes on I'll be writing my classroom experiences in further detail.
Most households in the city have their own washing machines, so laundromats are a rare sight, and expensive. Before we moved into our flat, there was a woman who also considered renting it, but didn’t because there wasn’t a washing machine installed. This makes me wonder why – in Vancouver, there’s no short supply. In fact, most apartments and even rented houses don’t have private laundry machines, either they’re shared or are not there at all.
Is this a chicken-and-egg argument? No one wants to manage a laundromat (or there is no infrastructure to support them, or people customarily did their own wash and never required commercial laundry services) so the public purchases their own, or everyone has already bought a washing machine (and / or a dryer) so laundromats would be redundant.
There are a few laundries, mostly in the student dorms. I visited the dorms in Rožan Dolina, which look somewhat like the ones back at UBC, and found the laundromat; but instead of a self-serve laundry, you had to give up your clothes to someone behind a glass barrier. The total cost was 10 Euros, but I had to wait twenty-four hours. I can’t go commando for that long. So, I’m still looking for a coin-operated laundromat. I miss sitting inside one, with the flowery smell of detergent permeating the air, and the constant hum as clothes are tumbled around and around in dryers.
Wish me luck.