When a Slovene meets a foreigner the first question they usually ask is the standard, 'Where are you from?' - which is understandable. But if you answer 'the States,' nine out of ten times the follow-up question is 'Why do you live in Slovenia?' I've always found this strange, not the question itself but the surprise with which people ask it - especially given the fact that most Slovenes are (rightfully) proud of their country and more or less live here by choice as well. Therefore I thought that it might be a good idea to provide some answers, and hopefully help solve this profound mystery once and for all.
For the sake of brevity as well as entertainment I'm going to skip all of the boring usual suspects (i.e. the people are lovely, the city is beautiful, Turbo-folk is awesome, etc). Anyway, in no particular order here are some of the reasons why an American would choose to live in Ljubljana.
Cobblestone: Probably the single biggest reason why I live in Europe. I love the stuff. I love the way it looks on narrow windy roads that lead up to castles and churches. And I especially love the way it sounds when expensive German-engineered cars drive over it. In the States we barely have any of the stuff.
Socialism - or at least social democracy: In America most of your right-wing Slovene politicians would be considered dirty leftist commie heathens for supporting such treacherous things as universal healthcare, affordable higher education and other basic social benefits.
Advertising: That 5m billboard on Kongresni Trg with nothing but a pair of large soapy breasts on it would sadly never be allowed in the US, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about American advertising, as well as our views on nudity and sex in general.
Rog's old school Pony bicycles: These things could never exist commercially the States due to their comically inefficient design, but they're so cute I can't help but smile every time I see one - especially if it's being ridden by a man in a business suit or anyone over the age of 60.
Well, I hope that helped. Next month I'll try to clarify things a little more when I discuss slippers, weddings and accents.
The Slovene version of this article appears in the 2 November 2009 issue of Ljubljana's City Magazine. You can read Part II here.