Vida Matičič Malnaršič comes from Inner Carniola, namely from Rakek. She currently resides in the Netherlands where she moved to study solo singing. At the Conservatory of Music in Amsterdam, she first got a Bachelor’s degree, immediately followed by a Master’s degree. Now, she works as a freelance artist. She performs in concerts, cooperates on various projects and sings in one of the best opera choirs in the world – The Dutch National Opera Choir from Amsterdam. Her biggest fan is her grandmother Jožefa, who this year had a chance to hear Vida live at the Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet in Ljubljana, where Vida performed in front of the local audience. She wishes to someday return to back to her homeland but that will only be possible with sufficient job opportunities.
You currently live in the Netherlands where you initially went to study. What convinced you to stay there? What was it like to study in the Netherlands and how do you remember your student years?
I studied classical solo singing at the Conservatory of Music in Amsterdam. After completing the bachelor’s program, I enrolled in the master’s course. My master’s thesis entitled Singing in Slovenian is interesting because it enables foreigners to sing in the Slovenian language. Studying in Amsterdam was certainly very different from studying in Slovenia due to two factors: firstly, because it was conducted in the English language and because the environment was internationally oriented and, secondly, because in Amsterdam, you have to pay a tuition fee in order to enroll in university. My bachelor’s degree studies were partly and generously supported by the Slovenian Ministry for Culture. Later on, I worked alongside my studies, which is the regular practice of all students around here.
What do you miss most from Slovenia? Would you import anything to the Netherlands and what would you like to have left behind?
I miss my family and the Slovenian nature the most. I would love to bring my whole family here. That way we could be more close together and I wouldn’t miss out on all the birthday parties and family gatherings. I would also import a hill or two that I could use as a vista to have a broader view of all the beautiful flower fields, sand beaches, and windmills – these are my favorite Dutch things. I only see them from above when I’m landing with an airplane. What I wish I could have left behind my fears and questions whether this was the right decision or not. Unless you try, however, you can never know.
What is the life like in the Netherlands compared to life in Slovenia? Can you draw any parallels or point out the most notable differences?
Life here is faster and more planned. There is a lot more of planning in advance whenever you want to meet someone, even if it’s just for a coffee. In Slovenia, I think, things are more spontaneous – you meet someone and you go for a cup of coffee. People here are very open, but I still find the people in Slovenia more warm and homely*. People can fulfill their dreams here if they are more on the crazy, funky, or unconventional side. The most obvious difference lies in the fact that in the Netherlands – a country twice the size of Slovenia – has 17 million inhabitants, which means the houses are smaller, there is less room, and less nature. However, this means there are many possibilities for networking.
You live abroad together with your husband who is also Slovenian. Where did you meet him and what led you to the decision for moving abroad?
We met in a then “modern” fashion, on mIRC. As I was finishing my studies in Slovenia I was persuaded by others to pursue further studies in the Netherlands. We both moved at the same time and started our new adventure. He soon found his first indefinite period employment and is very pleased with his life here.
Are you in contact with Slovenians living in the Netherlands? Do you socialize, form clubs or organize activities and gatherings? Do you prefer spending time with the locals or the people from your working environment?
In the Netherlands, Slovenians meet within the frameworks of the Friends of Slovenia association. We also have a FB group called Slovenci na Nizozemskem. I met a lot of Slovenians who live, study, or work here through these channels. I also made some close friends who mean a great deal to me. The association organizes annual events to commemorate the Slovenian Cultural Day, cooking workshops, and the traditional National Day picnic where we chat and sing over a snack and a drink.
Foto: Darja Štravs Tisu
How often do you return to Slovenia and what do you normally do here? Do you have any favorite places or activities?
I visit Slovenia three to four times a year (for Christmas, Easter, the summer holidays…). I now call it a “visit” rather than “vacation”, because it usually involves a lot of going around from house to house (and dining table to dining table) to see everyone that I haven’t seen in a while. I love going to the meadow with my father to see my mare Birta. I spend time mostly with my family and friends. We go for a ride to the seaside, the Bled Lake or any other less frequented location to enjoy the natural wonders of Slovenia.
What is your advice for the young who wish to live abroad? What was the hardest part of your experience and would you go down that same road again?
I would advise the youth not to be afraid of life abroad. Of course, it is hard because you are away from your relatives, friends, customs, food, and everything else you know well. Eventually, however, you make friends abroad, get used to the different cuisine and – most importantly – broaden your horizons and become an independent person. You can always go back home and that’s the wonder of living abroad.