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Studying in the Netherlands vs Slovenia: Any Difference?

Date:12 December 2019
Ljubljana (Photo courtesy of Sara Turkova)
Ljubljana (Photo courtesy of Sara Turkova)

One of the best advantages of going on exchange is that you get to know different cultures and different education systems. Even if you stay within Europe and do an Erasmus exchange, there are many of them to meet. And Slovenia is, indeed, one of places you can go to on Erasmus as a student at the Faculty of Law. More specifically, you can go to the University of Ljubljana. If we were talking about the cultural differences, it would deserve an article on its own. However, this time, I’d like to point out a few points between the Slovenian and Dutch school systems.

Subjects in English?

The University of Ljubljana offers a pretty decent amount of subjects taught in English, usually 10 courses per semester. However, while in the Netherlands, where Erasmus students mingle with full time students in the courses, in Slovenia, subjects are specially designed for Erasmus students only. This is due to Slovenian law, which does not allow law to be taught in any other language than Slovene. Thus, you’ll have a chance to get to know your fellow Erasmus students better, but you’ll barely meet Slovene ones in the classroom. The level of English proficiency in classes differs as well as not everyone uses it on daily basis. Lectures are, therefore, very easy to follow for people coming from an English-speaking environment.

Packed schedule?

You’d probably expect the same system as we have in the Netherlands comprised of lectures and working groups. However, this was not really the case in Ljubljana. As the subjects are only available for Erasmus students (unless the professor designs differently), groups are much smaller. That’s why, only lectures are scheduled here. What is more, there are usually no assignments, at least for the courses I took. Of course, you are required to attend classes and, from time-to-time, write a paper or make a presentation, but it also all depends on the teacher. The lectures are usually pretty long and without a break, which means that if a class is 2,5 hours, you’ll have to survive it all at once. This is unlike Groningen, where lectures are usually divided to two parts of 45 minutes each with a 10 to 15 minutes break. In addition to that, in Groningen, there is an exam period at the end of each block. This means 4 exam periods per year. In Ljubljana, on the other hand, there are only two exam periods after each semester. The first starts in December and ends at the end of January.

Learning Environment

 In Groningen, students at the Faculty of Law generally spend most of their study time within one square – Academy Building, Harmonie Complex, Aweg, and the library. Only on very special occasions do they venture to other places, such as Zernike for an exam. In Ljubljana, on the other hand, the Faculty of Law has literally one building, which includes everything. It is a beautiful historical building, which is newly reconstructed and has many lecture halls, smaller seminar rooms and a cozy library in the middle. Moreover, if you’re hungry, there is a small cafeteria, which offers a full meal for a very reasonable price. Ljubljana is very much a student-friendly city. This means that if you get fed up being in one building, you can always go to the national library that gives you a Harry Potter-like feeling, or to the central technology library. And what is one of the biggest differences and advantages in the library here? You don’t have to wake up early in the morning, wait in front of the building for half an hour and then fight for a spot (which can happen at the UB in Groningen)! It’s barely crowded and you can reserve a seat when you come, which means that also nobody can kick you out of your own place. Isn’t it perfect?

I find the Dutch system to be very intense and on a hardly comparable level with its quality. Nevertheless, teachers in Ljubljana are on top of their career and will provide you with a high-quality education, but they also understand that Erasmus is not only about school. Hence, you’re still left with quite a lot of free time to explore your new home and enjoy your semester abroad to the fullest. Side note – even though Ljubljana is the capital, it very much feels like cozy Groningen with its size and number of students living here. Definitely one of the best options for Erasmus.

- Sara Turkova, Slovakia, International and European Law LLB student

*The full-list of exchange destinations for University of Groningen, Faculty of Law students can be found here.

Tags: llb, exchange, erasmus