Saturday photo and video dump.

Street art.

More street art.

Fountain on Mestni trg.

The greatest street food ever: burek.

Some traditional Slovenian dancing:


Another quick rundown.

I strongly urge anyone and everyone in Ljubjlana to go to the International Center of Graphic Arts for their installment for the 27th Biennial of Graphic Arts. I thought it was a terrific show.

On a sad note, I didn't make it to the films tonight for Terminal00's Week of Balkan Art. I was just too tired today. Hopefully someone else was able to attend and give me their impressions? I will be going to the two shows tomorrow night, though.

And I'm almost over this cold.


A quick rundown.

This incorrigible cold is still clinging to me.

Today I checked out a couple of venues for the 27th Biennial of Graphic Arts and I cruised through the City Museum of Ljubljana.

Although all of the works displayed in the Biennial were superb, the one that stood out for me was a short film and prints from Rafael Trelles entitled In concrete: Urban Graphics at the Island of Vieques. Trelles is a Puerto Rican artist who uses a pressure washer to etch anti-war images into the grime and soot that blankets the urban landscape.

At the City Museum (which I recommend) I learned an interesting historical tidbit. Did you know that the first Slovene commune was established in 1970? The commune was opened in Cedilnik house in Tacen. After two years it dissolved and the members settled in Brod.

There's more to come.


This week in Ljubljana.

Yesterday I drew up a tentative schedule for this week. I plan on attending some local events before I start school on October 1st. Here's a preview of this week's adventures:
That should keep me occupied. That, and the mountain of homework on my desk.

Addendum: I'll also be watching the France Marolt Academic Folklore Group perform traditional dances by the Ljubljanica River. This is happening on Wednesday at 6:30 PM, at Dvorni trg. I'll be checking out the City Icons exhibit at the City Musuem of Ljubljana.


The storm.

On Tuesday night, we experienced a violent storm - torrential rain and roaring thunder beseiged Ljubljana all evening. I've seen my share of storms so I didn't think anything of it, until Pengovsky wrote an update today on the storm's aftermath: seven victims, two flooded towns and the Franja Partisan Hospital washed away forever.

My thoughts go out to the vicitims' families, and I'm saddened by the lost of such an important historical site. I had a chance to visit in May.


They are coming through the roof.

There are contractors on my roof. They've been renovating all summer. They are still here. All day I hear a constant pounding and slamming, like someone is tossing huge sacks of shoes and quarters and flour onto the roof from the neighbouring building. I work from home.

And now I'm certifiably insane.


Adventures in applying for a student visa.

Since I'm classified as a student, my allotted time in Slovenia exceeds the three month limit most visitors are allowed. That's why I had to renew my student visa today.

The office that distributes visas are located in a former tobacco factory, so imagine a complex made up of massive brick warehouses and that's where this office sits. I asked the clerk at the International Student Office for directions, and he told me he wrote an exam there while his faculty was being built. That's actually pretty cool. I had no problem finding it - I just looked for the crowd of people clutching their passports and looking distraught.

After asking two people I was directed to the right office. The building's interior is very sleek, painted in pale colours and the offices were separated by glass walls. A very modern facility, by the looks of it. I took a number from a touchscreen computer and waited for my number to come up on a HD television attached to the wall. I waited ten minutes and I had to walk through another set of doors, which were under the television, when I was called. Although I was able to pay for my visa, I required more documents, including a copy of my health insurance in Slovenian. I kept asking myself: How the hell am I supposed to get that? Luckily, the lovely staff at my faculty's international office offered to call the passport office and translate my health plan for me.

So, a warning to potential long-term visitors: make sure you have all your documentation before applying for a visa. Although I was merely inconvenienced, unprepared applicants are in for a surprise.


Immigration and multiculturalism in Slovenia and Canada.

This week in the Wall Street Journal a small article appeared regarding the new immigration policies the EU parliament is voting on at the moment:
[They] recommend that illegal aliens be held no more than 18 months before deportation, [. . .] prohibiting the expulsion or detention of unaccompanied children and granting those suffering from a serious illness a residence permit giving them access to medical care.
Although these laws are already in place in most individual nations, a comprehensive set of immigration laws that apply to the EU as a whole is still being crafted among parliamentarians.
Also this week a front page article in the Globe and Mail featured a group of Quebec government office workers issuing a complaint about political correctness allegedly blocking meaningful discussions on whether or not religion has a place in the public sphere. In Quebec (and the rest of Canada), public offices are deemed secular. This has caused some tensions among the workers. For example, Christian employees cannot openly display Christmas decorations, but a Muslim employee washes her feet in a sink used by the rest of the staff prior to her daily prayers. The same old argument is trotted out: if immigrants are to live in Canada, then they must abide by Canadian cultural norms. If Canadian citizens visit another county, they must observe the local customs, right?

I can tell you from experience that this is not the case. I'm a Canadian living abroad, yet I openly speak English, eat food that approximates "Canadian cuisine" and I don't always practice the local customs. However, I learned to take my shoes off and slip on a pair of copati when I visit another home and I try to start most conversations in Slovene. Living abroad is a balancing act. Immigrants cannot simply toss aside their ethnicity - that would be impossible - but newcomers (and visitors like me) have to somehow relate to their new home. In order to adapt to their host country, a degree of compromise is required.

In Canada, there are three dominant culture groups: Anglophone Canadians, Francophone Canadians and First Nations. These groups are large simply because they've been residing in Canada the longest. Other ethnic groups either came along shortly after the French and English arrived or only began immigrating to Canada recently. Canadian society is based on a multicultural "mosaic," a patchwork of different ethnic groups residing together yet retaining their cultural identities.

Given that the EU is now seriously discussing immigration, and that tensions arise between ethnic groups in Canada, what does that mean for Slovenia? Although there are some ethnic minorities here, such as Croats, Bosnians, Italians and Roma, how would an otherwise homogeneous society manage a possible influx of immigrants? Does Slovenia have trouble with illegal immigration? Am I wrong in assuming Slovenia is a homogeneous society?

Making Čokolešnik.

I was told by a friend that Čokolešnik makes a delicious breakfast, so I gave it a shot this morning. I should have realized the instructions were in Slovene - here's my first attempt at making a local favourite:
Bring the milk to a boil.

Pour the milk into a bowl.

Get yer Čokolešnik!

Add two tablespoons to the milk.

Overall, it came out well. Čokolešnik tastes like Cream of Wheat but not as thick and with a healthy dose of chocolate and hazelnuts thrown inside the mix. So, yes, I liked it. However, I have a feeling I may have erred. Maybe it was too runny? Did I boil too much milk?



My cold reached its peak last night, so I'm holing myself up for the weekend. I have plenty of books (and homework) to keep me busy.



I finally arrived. My flight was rather unremarkable except for a brief episode in the Frankfurt airport. I must have met the most enthusiastic and friendly security guard in the history of . . . well . . . airport security guards. I had to go walk through another luggage check before I boarded my flight to Ljubljana from Frankfurt. I gave the security official my backpack so he can place it the tray that is sent through the x-ray. He held it and bounced it in his hand.
"Oh! Do you have a laptop in your bag?"
"I do."
"Could you take it out please?"
I opened my backpack, revealing seven or eight paperbacks crammed together inside.
"Your bag is full of surprises! HAHAHAHAHA!"
I laughed along with him, just in case he decided a cavity search would uncover more surprises.

On the flight from Vancouver I met a musician and filmmaker who was on his way to India. We sat next to each other and I discovered we both had many interests in common: we are both vegetarian and we're into meditation. We made fun of the films (Mr. Bean's Holiday and Arthur and the Invisibles - both were lukewarm) and chatted to pass the time. I told him I was a nervous flier and during some heavy turbulence over Greenland he asked me if I was alright. Such a nice guy.

A dense fog covered the city early this morning and now the sun is cutting a swath through the murk. I found out that our landlords and I have to register with the immigration office and the student international office won't issue me a student card because I'm not an Erasmus student (Canada is not a participate in the program) but, despite all that, I was able to procure a bus pass. European bureaucracy never ceases to amaze me.

Although I'm getting a cold I was able to drag myself outside and start my day with a burek and a coffee. It's nice to be back.

(Pictures from my walk this morning)


Notes from the departure lounge

After some running around and last minute errands, I managed to get Jay on a plane this afternoon. We even got to the airport early (a first, I think) and had time for beer and nachos before he had to go through security. Slovenians: keep an eye out for a bleary Canadian with a blue backpack tomorrow afternoon. And take good care of him for me, wouldya? I'll see you all in November. :)