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The Differences Between Canada and Slovenia: What Lonely Planet Won't Tell You

The Differences Between Canada and Slovenia: What Lonely Planet Won't Tell You

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Published by Christopher Haynes
A comparative analysis of Canada (where I am from) and Slovenia (where I lived for a year). Learn about the culture, economy, food, drink and more of both countries. If you are going to Slovenia, especially if you are from Canada, take a look!
A comparative analysis of Canada (where I am from) and Slovenia (where I lived for a year). Learn about the culture, economy, food, drink and more of both countries. If you are going to Slovenia, especially if you are from Canada, take a look!

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Published by: Christopher Haynes on Jun 09, 2009
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05/11/2014

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The differences between Canada and Slovenia: what Lonely Planet won’t tell youWhat you should know before reading this post is that much of what I write isgeneralisation. It does not make sense to take everything as “true” because of theimpossibility of considering everyone in Canada or Slovenia the same in any way. Those people who tell you that everyone in their country shares similar traits do not know whatthey are talking about. There are always exceptions. My comments are merely generalobservations that will help Canadians and Slovenes understand each other better. Asalways, if you disagree, I would be happy to argue with you about it.CultureI will start with one similarity: I like neither Canadian nor Slovenian music. In bothcountries there are a few musicians that are both talented and popular and a whole lotwho are either no good or unheard of. My favourite music that is popular in Canada isAmerican. My favourite music that is popular in Slovenia is Croatian, Bosnian andSerbian. The significance of the music of these countries is that Canada and Slovenia both get their most popular music from their bigger neighbours. When I say bigger, of course, I mean in population. Canada is a big country in area. That affects mindsets morethan you might think.Slovenia is a small country and Canada is a big one. I never realised how much thisdifference affects mindsets until I went to Slovenia. You see, when you live in Canada,and can afford to fly from one end of the country to another (say, five hours fromVancouver to Montreal), it is not an especially long distance. It is, of course, only fromone end of the country to another. All Canadians I know have friends or family in another  part of the country. Slovenes often go their whole lives not knowing people who comefrom 200km away. To a Slovene, the thought of taking a five hour journey by any modeof transportation is almost inconceivable. Since it takes five hours in the car to get fromLendava to Koper, you have to be highly motivated by something to take so much time tomake the journey. Most Slovenes have no desire to see many other parts of Slovenia,except to visit the coast. As a result, I, as a tourist and friend of people from different parts of the country, have probably been to more places in Slovenia than most Slovenes.In fact, there are differences in unemployment in different regions of Slovenia that could be largely cured by more internal migration; and yet very few Slovenes will travel or move more than 30km from their birthplace to get a job. That said, the same is true of Canada.
 
 Nevertheless, Canadians are more open to moving to different parts of Canada (or other  parts of the world) than are Slovenes. Many European families have lived where they livefor generations, and so they would not consider moving. This concentration in one spothas led to an amazing variety of dialects.LanguageSlovenia has a different dialect for every little town you go to. It is fascinating to me,someone interested in languages and speaking Canadian English, to see the differencesamong them. Someone a mere 100km (or less) away from you will not understand your local dialect. As I began to learn Slovene I thought that everyone would teach me“slovensko”, the official language, as distinct from their dialect. Well, they told me theywere. But as I said certain words to some people they would laugh and tell me “no no,THIS is how you say that word.” I would take that word to someone else, who would inturn laugh because I was speaking a different dialect. It was confusing and I eventuallydecided it was much easier to learn and speak to people in their dialects rather than learnstandard Slovene, which nobody seems to know anyway. I realise that many other countries or regions of the world are similar in this respect, but coming from Canada andhaving been taught North American and British English (which are almost the same, apartfrom a handful of words and accents), I am used to little variation in English. You see,English was spread around the world only in the past few hundred years, and the Britishempire only ended in the past 60 years. Moreover, English speakers were more connectedto each other through things like railroads and colonial administrators. For that reason,English is similar from place to place because it is based on recent British English.Slovene, on the other hand, is an old language, and people in different places had far lesscontact with each other and simply less in common.In fact, the contact they had with other countries is just as likely to have influenced thedevelopment of each dialect. For anyone who knows Italian, you will hear Italian wordsused in Slovenian dialects that come from near the Italian border (anywhere west of Ljubljana). Likewise, there is a considerable number of German words in many dialects because many Slovenes live close to the Austrian border. There is, of course, Croatianinfluence in the south of Slovenia, but Slovene is already similar to Croatian so it is lessnoticeable. As for the eastern border, in Lendava, where they learn Hungarian in school,they speak the closest thing to standard Slovene I have ever heard. Foreign influence is afeature of all languages, of course. In both Canadian English and French, the influencecomes primarily from the United States. Foreign influences also affect Slovenian food.Food and drink 
 
Italian food is popular in Slovenia. All of the classiest and most expensive restaurants arestocked with a wide variety of pasta dishes. I don’t know why, but the pizza in any decentrestaurant in Slovenia is better than any I have had in North America. Those who have been to Italy assure me it is better than Italian pizza as well. Along with Italy, a lot of food in Slovenia (the best, in my opinion) comes from the former Yugoslavia. Čevapčičiand pleskavica, a kind of pork sausage and patty respectively (although their ingredientsvary with the country), are perhaps the most widely eaten, and come, according toMacedonians at least, from Macedonia. So does ajvar, a kind of red pepper and eggplantrelish that Slovenes eat with čevapčiči and pleskavica and Macedonians with bread.Some people eat burek, a pastry filled with meat, cheese or pizza toppings (although inother countries you can find other kinds of burek), hot dogs, hamburgers and evenhorseburger, a rarity in Canada. Drinking is pervasive in Slovenia and alcoholism is moreof a health issue than it is in Canada (where obesity is more the issue). But instead of focusing on the bad side of alcohol, let’s look at the good side!Slovenian alcohol is good and I want to point out my favourites: borovničke, a liquor fermented from blueberries; medica, another liquor, this one from honey; and Laško,generally regarded as the favourite beer of the Slovenes. On top of these I drank a lot of wine—unavoidable in a country that has several regions that consider themselves to bethe wine growing region—mixed with coke (bambus) or fanta (mišmaš) or water (špricer). What a strange idea this was to me. I had never considered mixing wine withanything. I don’t like wine, even after all the wine I drank in Slovenia, so I prefered itmixed with something else. But it was still a wild idea. Most wine one buys in Canadacomes from other countries and I have never seen someone mix it. I’ll consider doing thatmore often when someone offers it to me in Canada. “Wine?” “Do you have any coke tomix?”There is not much native Slovenian food—or at least not much that is popular—but thereare some desserts such as gibanica and potica that almost everyone eats, and for goodreason. Canada has very little homegrown food as well. There are still some indigenous people in Canada (about 2% of the population) but the food they bring to the Canadiantable is not widely eaten. Most food eaten in Canada is fast food, Asian food or, likeSlovenia, European style meat and potatoes. Fast food’s popularity in Canada could infact be one of the reasons that prevalence of obseity amongst Canadians is nearly as highas amongst Americans. By contrast, I did not see a single Slovene I thought was obese,and very few I would have considered overweight. In fact, Slovenes generally all look thesame.Ethnicity

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