Havala Slovenia

Havala is the Slovene word for thank-you. I have a lot to be thankful for at the conclusion of my study abroad program. I could be thankful for the tangible things I’ve acquired here like amazing gelato or my new Slovenian patch, but it’s truly much more than that.

When I looked back on my trip as a whole, it’s hard to pick one main takeaway because I have learned and experienced so much. Some of the initial thoughts that came to my mind were the raised awareness I had for global events and perspectives, knowledge on how to navigate a foreign country, an appreciation for the many people who take time to learn English, hospitality of locals and businesses, and the experience of a lifetime.

This trip to Slovenia reinforced and strengthened my passion for the environment. I hope to be more involved with sustainable practices and organizations when I return and bring that with me to my future career. I also was reassured that I am in the right major, the business-focused visits were extremely interesting to me and got me excited for the world of business in the future.

I will tell my stories of studying abroad to anyone who is willing to listen. I have had a blast in the insanely beautiful Slovenia and would not trade my experience for the world. I have a lot of people to thank including my parents, teachers, companies, the office of study abroad, and every single person who helped me get here today. I would recommend a program like this to everyone as well as the fantastic Slovenia.

DSC_0540

Miranda Roberts

Colleges and Castles

Today we started off the day with a visit to the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana. We began with a tour of the building. They had cool restaurants, one of which was sponsored by The Economist magazine. We saw their hallway art galleries and learned how competitive it was to display art there. The lecture halls were comparable to those in CapFed Hall but they had tables instead of small desks. The decor was all red which was very on brand for the university. As for branding and marketing, they did not have a marketing major. However, they did have masters degrees in Tourism Management.I really enjoyed learning about the differences between European and American universities since I plan on studying at WHU Vallendar next spring. In Europe, they don’t necessarily have cumulative grades, just final exams. But, they can retake them up to six times. Their course fees were also very affordable and supported with subsidized meals. They have optional electives, but nothing quite like our KU Core. This allows the Ljubljana students to take all their courses in the business building.

Both schools encourage studying abroad which shows just how much value can be added from such an experience. The University of Ljubljana even offers dual degree programs where one year could be in Slovenia and one in Korea. This allows students to get degrees from both universities. The global skills these universities endorse are essential for business and I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this visit, and most importantly this trip.

After our visits we got to enjoy a 5-star meal in a castle, so I can check that off my bucket list!


Miranda Roberts 

Company Lessons

Today we visited Pipistrel, ABC, and the US Embassy. All of these visits were in my top five so far. At Pipistrel, I was amazed to see a company with a building that fully sustained itself. Things like low energy bathrooms and solar panels helped to run 100 percent of the building. As someone very interested in sustainability, elements like these are things I would love to bring back to the US with me. Pipistrel also designed a low energy plane to reduce emissions from training pilots. These pilots use a lot of fuel to repeatedly take off and land.

Our next visit to ABC provided us with a look into start up companies. I currently work as a brand ambassador for Gitchi Adventure Goods, a startup in sustainable outdoor clothing. Working closely with a new business gave me a new perspective when listening to pitches today. They really emphasized how someone in a startup needs coachability as well as a strong grasp on their market. Gitchi does a good job of reaching out to their market and I believe that is why they are finding success.

Finally, the US Embassy spoke to us. Their representative ended his presentation by saying he had learned the most about his own country by leaving it. This stuck with me as I have been learning a lot of things about the US since leaving. Whether it be simple things like how our restaurants cut pizzas before they serve it, or more cultural things like waiting to eat until everyone has their food versus digging in. This shows how different countries place values on hospitality and the ways in which they show that. I have also learned a lot from seeing different business cultures and hope to take this new sense of cultural competency with me wherever I go.

Miranda Roberts

 Crossing Borders

Today we woke up ready to explore. After a quick breakfast, it was off to the bike rental in Piran. After that, we sped past salt refineries, shops, marinas, and more until we found ourselves in a national park. There we got to ride through lush forests, over waterways, and by campgrounds. The journey to Croatia was absolutely breathtaking. Before I even made it to Croatia, I knew it was a great way to start my day. 

A little over an hour and we had made it to the border. We got in the same line with the cars and got our passports scanned and stamped. Then we headed toward what looked like a toll bridge, but was actually another passport check. There, another biker helped us to get through the more confusing lanes and processes, which secured us another stamp. After that, the nice Slovene man showed us the best path to take to avoid dangerous highways. He explained how the path system used to be a railroad and what kind of towns we could find in Croatia. He stopped to show us things on a map, wait for us at customs, and help us fix our bike seats. His kindness was something that I’ve noticed in many Slovenes. This is part of what makes this country so welcoming. Everyone from the bike salesman went above and beyond to help us out, despite language or time posing a challenge for them.

The man also told us to get out and explore whenever we had the chance. He said to go out and see the world, to study abroad again. These words combined with his kindness really stuck out to me today. I want to continue to explore the world while getting to hear people’s stories like those I have encountered here.

Miranda Roberts 

A Day In Venice

We headed from Piran to northern Italy this morning for a day full of bridges, bakeries, and boats. Venice had amazing Italian food, bakeries, pathways, and more. The rain couldn’t keep us away and even seemed to clear out some of the tourists. My four hours in Venice were well worth two three-hour boat rides.

My favorite site was Saint Mark’s Basilica, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. The gothic architecture was breathtaking. I didn’t mind the fact that I couldn’t take photos inside, because they wouldn’t do it justice. I was happy to pay the two euros to visit because it was one of the most amazing feats I’ve ever seen. They had slabs of marble that were separate, yet the patterns matched up perfectly. The ceiling designs were made of gold mosaic tiles and sparkled in the light. It was fascinating to try and match the pictures to stories I’ve learned of before, like the Adam and Eve portrayal. The extent of the building itself impressed me due to the many domes making up the ceiling.


My next favorite sites were the water pathways and the Rialto Bridge. I liked seeing the boats and having an elevated view of the city’s hustle and bustle. I had never been on a bridge made up of steps so I found that to be a new and exciting change in Italy.


I had a wonderful day of exploring, getting lost, and trying new things. I could explore Venice for days and still not see it all. I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit!

Miranda Roberts 

Picturesque Piran

Today had a lot of new things in store. First we went to a company visit where we saw lots of employees building automobile tools and parts with precision. The R&D supervisor showed us the program and machine they used to test their accuracy along with a number of other elements from the process. The finished product cost thousands to make, while the finished part may sell for around $7 euros. This interested me as a business student, because I realized how important quality is. As a marketing major, I need to do everything I can to help my client feel secure about their purchase. If it does not meet their standards, you need to go back and redesign.

 After this visit, we headed to a new city, Prian. Here we were able to view gorgeous waters, beautiful architecture, and three countries at once. Standing in one spot and being able to view Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia simultaneously is very eye opening. The beauty was occupying everyone, our guide had to keep telling us to keep on walking! I noticed similar architecture styles to Ljubljana, yet many differences. Priam specialized their lunch in seafood, had a coastline, and much more clustered buildings. I enjoyed both but am excited to keep exploring the hustle and bustle of Piran!

Miranda

Europe’s Green Capital

This morning we had the opportunity to visit four companies. While the visits were all over the place, from an accounting firm to a culinary and tourism to a factory and government agency. That being said, all provided great insight that was helpful to me as a business student and a growing professional. 

One of our hosts asked why we had decided to come to her country and it was really interesting to hear the different reasons why everyone felt pulled toward Slovenia. I personally wanted a chance to explore a new country and continent while learning about one of my passions, sustainability. 

I am working toward earning a certificate in sustainability back at the University of Kansas and hope to bring that with me in whatever field I end up in. An experience in Europe’s green capital of the world is something I could not pass up. I have been fascinated to see how each of the businesses incorporate sustainability into their foundations and lifestyle. We learned today that Slovenia has nearly 0% of waste, with most everyone recycling. They also said they have some of the most forests and natural clean water. I have been shocked at the gorgeous views at every turn and it is obvious they are doing an excellent job sustaining the Earth. The Slovenian ecological model is definitely one I will share in the states.

We also had time to explore downtown Ljubljana these past few days as you can see in these photos!


Miranda