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Chapter 2 – September to mid-March

Ok, I’ll start by saying, maybe I should do these more often because right now I have A LOT to say. I think I left off after my on-arrival training, way back in September. I’ll try and be succinct but I can’t make any promises, so this will probably end up being a two-parter.

End of 2022

After Zreče, I came back to the coast and got to work. I learnt how to play wizards and introduced everyone to cactus (a card game) (I apologise for this by the way, didn’t expect it to be so popular). I started talking to the kids, they taught me some Slovene words like numbers and “orehi” which is really random but it means walnut and you never know when you might need that. Alberto and I went to my first karaoke where I got to see him perform as the (self-proclaimed) King of karaoke. Beginning of October, my new roommate Ana arrived. We got on really well, and spent her first night talking about feminism and books on the balcony while drinking wine (am I allowed to mention alcohol in these blogs?). We started handball, then stopped because we were the oldest on the team by like 10 years. We also went climbing a few times with a friend whom we met here. At some point during the month, we went for drinks in Mandrač and then went swimming by night in the sea! (Sent my mum a pic and she made this *amazing* edit). End of October, we had the Halloween party in EPI where Alberto, Ana and I planned an escape room, sort of. Then, Ana, Ualid (another volunteer) and I went on a short visit of the country. We went to Maribor, then Celje and finally Ljubljana. This has become my go-to trip when I have visitors.

In November, I went back to France for a few days for my godson’s 10th birthday (that’s a big one in France). When I came back, Ualid and I went to see our first Marvel movie together, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the start of our tradition. (Sidebar: nachos in the cinema in Slovenia? Awesome!) Ana and I spent most of our weekends in Ljubljana because the European Women’s Handball Championship was happening there. It was super cool and we met up with other French volunteers to cheer on the French team (I accidentally got over excited while shouting and spilt some beer on the medals). I also went to visit my sister for her birthday at the end of the month (this was a pain travel-wise because my flight was delayed and stuff but it was cool to see my sister and my mum, who was also visiting).

In December, we went to Ljubljana with the kids and saw all the Christmas lights. It was really nice but I have to say some of the decorations were… surprising. I think the theme was science or something but at least one decoration looked like something out of the pages of a sex education book. We also celebrated Alberto’s birthday. We dressed up as Italian things (I was a wooden spoon because Italy always lose at rugby at that’s the trophy they get). Unfortunately, Ana couldn’t be there (sad) but her cousin Paolo came (yay!). We played beerpong, with Alberto’s rules which are that if the ball bounces, you may catch it. If your team throws the ball and catches it = extra blind shot, if the other team does = keep playing as normal. Obviously, I got really into this and was throwing myself on the ball. We also did our own version of XFactor, which was super amazing. At the end of the month, I flew back to France to see my family for a few days, then went to Scotland to see the other side of my family.

Ok, I tried to keep it short for last year, now: 2023.

In January, Alberto, Ana, Varja and I went to Gimnazija Piran and explained what being a volunteer was about, it was really fun, especially because we knew some of the students from EPI. One weekend, around the middle of the month, Alberto, Julia, Francesco (two other volunteers) and I drove to Treviso to see a rugby game. It was soooo cool. The boys had never been to one before and didn’t understand why I was clapping for the opposite team. I had to explain that, in rugby, if there’s a nice action, you celebrate. I think they mainly enjoyed the beer. Almost forgot to mention (I have no idea why because it was so amazing): I got pics with two rugby players that I loooove (Matteo Minozzi & Niccolo Cannone)! After Treviso, we went to Palmanova and then decided we might as well go to Umag in Croatia for a drink. Fun fact: with this, between the 23rd of November and 15th of January, I had been to 8 countries: Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Croatia. After this, my sister came to visit and I took her to Celje and Ljubljana (didn’t have time for Maribor, but, if I’m being honest, there’s not *that* much to see anyway, no hate though).

I don’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary in February, except the Queen’s birthday of course. Also, I helped with some Italian homework! I must have picked some up from Alberto. More stuff probably happened but, at least at the time of writing, I can’t think of it. We likely went to another karaoke? Varja, Ana and I watched the sunset on the “beach” one night while eating peanuts, that was really nice. Oh also, we went to Ptuj for Kurentovanje! Ok so I remember more stuff now haha! Sooo, a really funny thing happened: Ana and I decided to dress up as journalists and spent hours working on our props (see photos). At one point, a street was cut off and we wanted to know why so asked a security guard, he waved us through to another to answer us, so Ana and I, followed by like 7 friends, walked down this aisle to ask what was going on. The second guard spoke English and was answering our questions for a minute before looking down out our press passes, homemade microphone and cardboard camera and saying “You’re not the real press are you?”. Obviously, I answered no, so he kicked us out. Guess our outfits were quite good?

In March, Ana and I met some friends for International Women’s Day march in Ljubljana. It was somewhat underwhelming: I was expecting more people but I still had fun. At some point this month we went to a quiz night in Koper. We got a *little* competitive but finished second by like one point or something. March is also when we said goodbye to Alberto (sad), and hello to Ibon (happy). As expected, we had a goodbye party, where we played beerpong and I got bruises (yay!) but Alberto said we had to stop because I was “too violent” (boo, and not true).

Ok, so, as expected, this is getting quite long. This seems like a good time to take a break. I’ll stop here and write a second blog for the next few months until now.

Thanks for reading and getting this far, and hope you read the next one I guess

Clara xxx