Benjamin’s Story

1.       So, tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Benjamin, I’m 22, I live in Lille (north of France) where I’m preparing the exams to be a professor of economics and social sciences (hopefully next year). I spent one year in Ljubljana in 2011-2012 in the Faculty of Social Sciences and I had the privilege of helping ZVEŠ there.

2.       Why did you choose to come to Slovenia?

Actually I had to spend one year abroad as it is mandatory in my curriculum. I was mid-table in my school ranking system which meant that I could choose to go anywhere in the EU. I was a bit disappointed as I would have liked to go to the Middle-East or Asia. The thing was that I didn’t want to go to a country I knew of, I wanted to discover a new country, a place that would have been totally unknown to me. So I picked up a few of those “strange countries down there in Southern Europe” and I ended up in Ljubljana.

3.       What was the process like for coming to Slovenia to live and study? Talk me through what you needed to do

It was actually pretty easy. As an EU citizen and as a student I was able to enrol for the Erasmus program. There was only one big form I had to download from the Erasmus program website, I filled it, had the documents they were asking me for and everything was set in a month’s time.

Then, once I arrived in Slovenia I met with the student organisation (the ŠOU) which helped me to find an accommodation within a day.

Finally, as I was staying for the whole school year I had to get a resident permit, which took quite a long time as the immigration office was pretty slow but otherwise it is pretty simple once you’ve found some national to translate the immigration office letters and instructions for you.

4.       Tell me about one highlight, and one disappointment or struggle during your time in Slovenia.

That’s a tough question! However I would say that the one major highlight was the first two weeks I spent in Slovenia. I was absolutely ignorant about this country, its history, its language, its culture and so on. I didn’t know what to expect. Upon my arrival I started to learn and discover this country which is both so European and so alien. I didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this awesome country.

One particular struggle was to live as a Christian student in an Erasmus setting which is often all about party, alcohol and sex. As a result I never got totally integrated in the Erasmus community (I didn’t really wanted to) and yet I was marked as a “foreign student” which made it hard for me to mingle with Slovene students.

5.       How do you think you were able to serve God and others in Slovenia?

As I said earlier I had the opportunity to serve with ZVEŠ during my stay in Slovenia. We were two foreign students (Christine, a girl from Germany, and I) and we helped to organise a bible study group every week and from time to time some occasional events such as a “Real Christmas party” or surveys about students’ faith in the faculty for example.

I helped in a language exchange group as well, this wasn’t directly ZVEŠ-related but it was a way to get in touch with students from other faculties and a nice way to make friends too.

6.       Looking back, how do you think you grew closer to God during your time in Slovenia?

My year in Slovenia was definitely an important season of my life and it did affect my relationship with God in a significant way. I’d say that the major lesson I learned was dependence. I was recently converted when I arrived in Slovenia and I learned what it meant to start everything from scratch in a new country. To adapt to a new culture, to make new friends, to find a new church, to study in a different language, everything was very new and at times pretty confusing.

Through all this I learned to trust in God first, to make the daily decision to submit to him and to trust in His power and in His plans (which are always way better than mine). This was even truer when Christine asked me if I wanted to help her to set the bible study group, I feared that I would not be up to the task as I was newly converted and not much of an extrovert. Yet I believe that God provided and made up for my shortcomings as Nenad and Leon (who were in charge of the ZVEŠ team in Ljubljana) offered to give us some sort of training, and as the bible study group gathered student who were blessed with gifts that covered for my lacunas.

7.       On a lighter note, what would you recommend as a “don’t miss!” when visiting Slovenia?

That’s a tricky one. Slovenia is a small country and yet there are plenty of places and activities “not to miss”. Obviously you have to keep on visiting Ljubljana all through the year, all of it; places keep on changing with the seasons. The touristic cities (Bled, Piran, Isola…) are very nice as well and Slovenia is a perfect starting point to travel to Italy, Hungary, Austria and the Balkans!

However I cannot stress enough that you HAVE TO go on a hike-trip in the mountainous region of Gorenjska (in the north-west of Slovenia). The days I’ve spent there and the landscapes I had the chance to admire are among my best memories of Slovenia!

8.       Finally, any last advice for people considering studying in Slovenia and helping ZVEŠ there?

I would advise them not to hesitate a second longer! It is true that Slovenia is still one of the most anonymous countries of the European Union for most people; however it definitely deserves to be discovered, enjoyed and valued at fair value. Moreover Slovenia is one of the less Bible literate countries of Europe and it does need Christian students willing to love and serve other students in order to reach them with the good news of Jesus Christ!


Benjamin has kindly allowed us to publish his email address, so if you want to contact him, you may do so on our contact page.