It’s very hard to believe that I’ve been living in Ljubljana for almost three months now. I can remember being so sure I wouldn’t get the position and thinking that it was just a good way to practice writing up a cover letter. To my absolute surprise, my application was well received and before I knew it my alarm was ringing at six in the morning on a frosty January morning: time to get up, get to the airport and move to a city full of strangers!
As a pretty introverted person the idea of starting a new role was scary enough. But living in a new city, in a country I knew very little about, was even more terrifying. Thankfully it wasn’t soon after meeting my new colleagues that I felt at ease, as the team at Pride were (and continue to be) incredibly warm and friendly. Entering a working environment where I was an outsider was intimidating, and honestly sometimes it still is, but I felt totally at ease with my colleagues. The culture in the office is one I’ve not quite experienced before – things are kept professional, but it’s also abundantly clear that this is a community. People are genuinely invested not only in the work they do, but also in one another.
It’s thanks to this environment – and especially my mentors in the office – that I’ve been able to already begin to develop new skills, both professionally and personally. Despite my main responsibilities being social media management and digital support, one of my favourite things about volunteering with Pride is the variety of tasks available as there’s a million different ways to help out. One day I’ll be recording lip sync performances at the lesbian bar, the next I’ll be proofreading a document on strengthening organisational representation. Working with different members of the team to support different projects has helped me get to grips with the wide range of work Ljubljana Pride undertakes – even though it might seem small for an NGO, it feels like there’s no end to the ongoings of the organisation, which also helps keep things fresh.
Although there have undeniably been times where I’ve felt homesick, lonely or overwhelmed, the whole experience has been such a learning curve. Ljubljana is a lovely city that I feel I’m only just starting to properly appreciate, from the gorgeous mountain-clad skyline to the community that greets newcomers with open arms, and I know I’ll miss it once I head back to Manchester in December.
That being said – I’m only a quarter of a way through my position here, and there’s still so much on my list I want to tick off. In less than three month’s time it’ll be the height of the 2020 Pride Festival and I can’t wait to see the fabulous fruits of the Pride team’s labour; things certainly might be stressful at the moment, especially with the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I know it’ll be an incredible experience.