MEET THE PEOPLE: Arlette from Holland who found her home in Slovenia
It is always great to come across other bloggers out there who are bringing Slovenia to people’s attention. From meeting her Slovenian husband while on holidays in Slovenia, to building a house and her life here – by blogging about the authentic Slovenian rural life Arlette Cundric – van Driel brings Slovenia to her readers in the most profound and original way.
How long have you been living in Slovenia, where do you live and what do you do there?
When I met my Slovene husband in 1995, I moved to Slovenia and we lived here for a year. Because it was really difficult to find a decent place to live and to arrange insurance, we decided to move to the Netherlands together. After living there for 7 years, we moved back to Slovenia in September 2003.
The first 6 years we lived in Predoslje, near Kranj, where we rented a house. In 2009 we bought an old house in Gradenc, near Žužemberk, that we renovated. I haven’t been able to find a suitable job here but I’m trying to start my own business in tourism (www.myauthenticslovenia.com).
Have you already seen a lot of Slovenia? How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t visited yet?
Yes, for the most part and it’s beautiful everywhere we go! I love the nature, the mountains and the peace and quite you can still find here. And the people are usually very friendly to tourists. That’s also what I tell people when describing Slovenia to them.
Beside the language, what were the other hard things for you here? What do you miss the most from Holland?
I found it hard to really connect on a deeper level with people here. We made new friends and always felt welcome everywhere, but for some reason I never felt a sort of »bestie« connection with anyone like the way I had in the Netherlands. I always felt like there was an invisible boundary that I could not cross.
In the beginning, I mostly just missed my family and friends. Luckily they came to visit often. And luckily they always brought some of the foods that I missed like »hagelslag« and »drop«. 🙂
Tell us a bit about your My Life in Slovenia blog diary – when did you start to write it, what kind of stories you cover, who is it meant for etc.?
I started my My Life in Slovenia blog in May last year (2020) after thinking about it for several years already but never had the courage to actually start. My son Larsen stimulated me to start and helped me to put up the blog. I didn’t think anyone other than some friends and family in the Netherlands would read it but I noticed pretty quickly that other people enjoyed reading it as well and that made it more fun and gave me a reason to continue.
I have always loved to write and people told me that they liked my writing style. They say that I write like I talk. And I guess that makes it pleasant to read.
My first idea was to really just write about my everyday life here but it turned out to be more of an informative blog about Slovenia, it’s people and their habits and that’s why more people were interested because they either just love Slovenia, want to come on holiday here or are planning to move here.
I find your blog very personal and honest, quite different from other Slovenia travel blogs who are more aiming to promote Slovenia through visiting different places. What kind of feedback and comments do you get from readers?
My blog is different because I didn’t start it as a travel blog, wanting to promote Slovenia. Writing was just a hobby and I wanted to give friends and family in the Netherlands a closer look in my life here. I noticed immediately that people were interested in our way of life and the differences with their own lives and habits, so I started writing more about this. I get really nice comments, as you can read for yourself on my blog. 🙂
As a »Dutchie«, I’m a very open and direct person and I guess that shows in the way I write.
People love to read about Slovenia, many can also identify with what I write, as I have quite a few readers who are also foreigners in Slovenia. Or the other way around, Slovene people that live in the Netherlands. Others recognize things because they have been on holiday in Slovenia before.
Which of your blog topics got the most reader’s attention so far?
My most read post was about the building of our house. There are quite a few readers that are planning or dreaming about moving to Slovenia and they were very interested in what they would have to do to buy or build a house here (paperwork etc.).
One of your blogs is also about cultural differences between the Dutch and the Slovenes. Which is the one(s) you had most difficulties with or was hardest to overcome?
The fact that Slovene people almost never invite you in their homes and living rooms but they like to hang out outside, in front of their house, or in the garage or some other »guestroom«. At least in the area where we live this is the case.
Also my Dutch directness can be difficult sometimes. People here are not used to it and they can be somewhat shocked sometimes or understand me the wrong way. The other way around, I can get a little irritated when people keep »beating around the bush«, meaning that they don’t say what the actually mean.
How do people find out about your blog, how do you promote it? Since we are both local Slovenia bloggers, I’m interested to hear if you see local bloggers as important players in promoting Slovenia?
At the moment, my blog is absolutely just a hobby but if it would/could become more than that, that would be great too.
I find it difficult to say whether or not local bloggers can really help in promoting Slovenia. The more readers they have, the more important they can get, obviously.
As for myself, I haven’t really looked into the blogging business yet to see how I could get more readers or promote my blog to a bigger audience. Maybe I will do so in the future if I decide to try to make it bigger. For now, I’m happy with my 70 followers and other readers. 🙂
“The biggest advantage of living in Gradenc is the sense of freedom we have here. That is absolutely priceless!”, writes Arlette in her My Life in Slovenia blog diary.
Would you like to add anything else about Slovenia, your life here or your blog?
I would like to thank my readers and especially the people that have left such nice comments on my blog! I want them to know how much I love this beautiful country and all it has to offer. One thing is for sure, we are never going back to the Netherlands.
I also thank you, Marijana, for giving me this opportunity and for your fantastic blog. Let’s keep up the good work.
This interview was conducted in March 2021.