Slovenian postgraduate Denis Marin on his life and study in Brisbane

Denis Marin and Ana Robic
You arrived in Australia one year ago. First of all, why did you decide to leave Slovenia and what guided you in your decision to settle in Brisbane?

Reasons to leave Slovenia were many, the main one was my wish to complete my masters degree in the chosen field in a foreign language and at a high ranking university. Other reasons, such as the climate, economic stability in the country and employment opportunities also played a role in my decision. Brisbane was chosen due to the fact that it has the only high quality university that offers the program I truly wished to complete.

Are you planning to return to Slovenia when you complete your studies?

Upon completion of my studies my girlfriend and I hope to find work here in Australia. Even though it is gradually becoming harder for migrants to find employment here, I believe it is still easier than in Slovenia. Australia is a country where good, high quality work is appreciated and well-paid. Slovenia is a lovely country to live and enjoy life; however, the current economic situation is not conducive to enjoyment, thus we have no wish or need to return to Slovenia.

How do you view your chances of finding work here in Australia and what are your career prospects in Slovenia?

The Australian employment market in significantly bigger than the Slovenian market; consequently there are more career opportunities here. Having said that, one needs to keep in mind that competition is also so much stronger. As everywhere else in the world, it is important to know people who can throw in a good word for you to the prospective employer and thus increase your chances of getting a job. Even though Australia too is currently facing some kind of economic crisis, I believe our chances of finding work here are better than in Slovenia.

How do you find living in Brisbane?

Life in Brisbane is in many respects very similar to life in Ljubljana. It's just that Brisbane is bigger. People are friendly, always ready to answer any kind of question and help you. In comparison with other Australian cities, Brisbane is relatively small and quiet, very appropriate for someone who wants to study and have some fun. It has 2 million inhabitants who came from all over the world. Despite its religious and cultural diversity the city is very safe. Brisbane is always alive, something is always happening here, from smaller cultural events to high profile concerts. I must say I was very surprised to see that big concerts start at 4pm or 5pm and end at 11pm or midnight when in Slovenia they would only begin.

How are you supporting yourself during your studies?

Life in Australia is more expensive than at home and that does not include the university fees. Nevertheless, casual work is paid well enough and as a student you can survive. On a student visa, we are not allowed to work for more than 20 hours per week. Without some help from our families it would definitely be much harder, especially in the time of exams when we spend all our time studying and can't work.

What is the main advantage of living so far away from home and what is the main disadvantage?

The main advantage of living so far from home is networking, getting to know new people, building the social capital, if I use this modern term. Becoming familiar with new social and cultural traditions is also an advantage.
The main disadvantage is being so far away from home, from your family and friends - and you have to deal with this challenge every day. When my girlfriend and I arrived in Brisbane, we didn't know anybody and we literally started from zero. For both of us this was a serious shock as we had a lively social life in Slovenia.  

Do you know any fellow Slovenians in Brisbane? How and where did you find them?

We got to know three couples from Slovenia who arrived in Australia in about the same period, that is, in the last two years, with the view of building a better life here. Unfortunately we live at different places, about an hour drive from each other: in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. We talk over the phone which is the most convenient  and meet about once a month. We have a BBQ, speak Slovenian and have fun; we also exchange information and experiences, especially in relation to job opportunities and visas.

Are you aware that there are two Slovenian clubs in Brisbane and its surroundings, one in Brisbane and one on Gold Coast? Have you been to any of them?

I am aware of both clubs, my girlfriend and I also had the opportunity to meet two members of the Slovenian club in Brisbane, Mirko and Anica Cuderman. I am afraid we haven't found time yet to visit the club and usually we are not aware of events organised by the club. I believe the club is not taking advantage of new technological opportunities to advertise and connect people. As a result, it is losing its appeal, character and opportunity to grow.

What are your plans for the future?

It is hard to predict future in today's fast-changing environment: my wish and vision is to stay in Australia. 

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