In the interests of balance, to contrast my 10 Best Things About Living in Slovenia, I’ve compiled a ‘worst things about living in Slovenia’ too. No country is perfect, and having lived in six different nations so far, I’ve experienced the pros and cons of each.
I’ll point out that when it comes to Slovenia, a) this list is far shorter than the best things list, b) most points are not unique to Slovenia, and c) this list presents somewhat of a ‘first world problems’ line-up, in that if these are the worst aspects of living in Slovenia, then overall – things are pretty good.
And of course, this is just my personal experience of life in Slovenia. Please add your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.
1. Slovene Grammar Destroys Neurones
As someone trying to learn Slovene but unfamiliar with the family of Slavic tongues, there are several concepts which exist in the Slovenian language which are quite head-twisting for me. Though Slovenes are quick to cite the ‘dual plural’ as being the foreigner-proof aspect of their language – for me it’s the declensions (skloni) which I find most frustrating.
This ongoing mental tripwire is what I call the ‘Slovene Skloni Matrix’; a giant table of word-ending modifications which intersects six cases, three genders, two types of plural and a single type of singular, (not to mention the different endings for adjectives and nouns), that must be memorised and applied in order to end your words correctly, depending on the context.
In Slovene, even proper nouns are modified, thus my name can be: Sam, Sama, Samu, Samom, etc – depending on what’s being said.
I acknowledge that if I spent more time actually learning the grammar rules, rather than complaining about them, it probably wouldn’t be on this list.
2. Death Wish Drivers: Blind-Corner Road-Hoggers
Too many Slovenian drivers have a terrible habit of straying from their lane on blind corners. Every time I drive to Breg, at least once during my journey (and normally several times), I will come around a corner to find an oncoming Slovenian driver with at least 50% of their car on my side of the road, forcing me to take evasive action. This also triggers my ire in the form of a lengthy horn blast and some ‘Get the hell over!’ gesturing.
With this dangerous habit so common here, it’s little surprise to me that Slovenia is ranked in the bottom third of EU countries when it comes to road safety and has more than double the road deaths per million inhabitants, compared to the UK.
What does surprise me though, is that Italy is not ranked even lower than Slovenia. Whilst driving from Barcelona to Slovenia (and back) during the Road Trip From Hell in 2017, the Italian drivers stood out for being by far the worst of the six countries that we drove through.
3. The Habit of ‘Hate Thy Neighbour’
It’s a strange and somewhat sad situation here, that Slovenians seem to have an unusually high frequency of neighbourly feuds and disputes; apparently, neighbourly envy is deep seated.
There’s a well-known Slovene saying which illustrates this trait:
Naj sosedu crkne krava, če je že sami nimamo.
It translates as:
‘May the neighbour’s cow die, if we don’t have one.’
The longer version of the story goes something like this: there were three neighbours, each owning a cow. One day, the cow of the first neighbour dies. This makes the other two very happy. Then the cow of the second neighbour dies. This makes the last neighbour even happier still – neither of his neighbours has a cow, yet he still does!
But then he realises that his now cow-less neighbours will come begging for milk, so he then wishes for his own cow to die too, so that he doesn’t have to give them anything.
The rather sad meaning of the story is that Slovenians would rather see their own cow die, before having to share anything with their neighbours.
Now, I must point out that most of my neighbours have been very generous and very sharing. Despite hearing several stories from Slovenian friends and colleagues about their neighbourly problems, I took the whole ‘hate thy neighbour’ trait, as an exaggeration.
That was until I myself started having my own problems with one of my neighbours, which now makes the cow story sound quite accurate. Though my dispute involves neither dead cows nor any calls for milk, I have personally experienced the unbelievable level of vindictiveness that a nasty Slovene neighbour can go to, over the silliest and smallest things.
I’ll again say that all my other neighbours have been lovey, helpful and pleasant people, but if this really is as common as I’m led to believe from my Slovene friends, then for me it’s the most (and perhaps only) ugly side of Slovenia that I’ve so far experienced, in what is otherwise a very pleasant place.
4. Service Culture: Not Very Proactive
As with much of the rest of continental Europe, table service is the norm here and going to the bar (like in the UK) is generally not the done thing. This is good. I like not having to waste my time queuing, waving a tenner at the bartender hoping he’s going to serve me next rather than the guy who just barged in front of me.
However, in more than half of the places I go to, I find that although the table service upon first seating yourself is quite prompt, follow up attention is much less so. Normally you need to flag down the server, rather than getting a proactive ‘Would you like another drink/something else/ the bill?’ attentiveness.
I reiterate, there are some places with great service but there’s definitely room for improvement in the many of cafes and bars I’ve visited.
5. Unreliable Tradesmen: No shows and Radio Silence
It’s not unique to Slovenia by any stretch, but I’ve found it even more difficult than the UK to get tradesmen here to actually turn up when they say they’re going to turn up. I’ve had numerous dealings with various trades over the years, and more often then not, they have not appeared when they said they would.
This has been especially frustrating when I have driven two hours to Koroška on the agreed date just to meet with a tradesman, only for a no show, then radio silence, with my calls and texts going unanswered.
This has led to my default position being to expect them not to appear at the agreed time and date, and the acceptance that things always take longer than I want and require more pestering than I’m used to.
So – there it is. I suspect this list might change over the years; some things may improve (my grasp of Slovene grammar for example!) and new items may appear. I make no complaints about life overall here – but there’s always room for improvment.
UPDATE: After 4 years, I’m adding a new one to this list: Having to deal with the awful Upravna Enota
Do you agree with the list? Post a comment below.