I came to know about the University of Nova Gorica and the PhD position here whilst applying at somewhere else after my masters in India. I had never heard about this university before, but once I joined in the early December of 2019, before the whole COVID situation started, I was quite happy with the atmosphere here. The university is small but had quite a good standard of research and laboratories. The international staff here are well experienced and connected to most of the major popular research institutions around Europe. To me, the size and strength of the University being small is actually an advantage as this gives you more space to do your own thing and also gives you a better voice in matters. I work at the Laboratory of Quantum Optics and in my case, the close proximity of our lab to the bigger synchrotron radiation facility at Elettra, Trieste, in Italy, is a major advantage. I have had the chance to visit the facility several times as part of my research. The fact that I have access to a big research facility without the crowd and hustle usually present in such places, is a very appealing point for me.
The university itself is very friendly and extremely helpful to foreign students and I personally received a lot of help from the staff here for the PhD application processes as well as my VISA processes. I was also pleasantly surprised at the beginning that everyone here treats you only as their colleague and there is pretty much no distinction on whether you are a PhD student or a member of research staff.
Coming from a country like India, the atmosphere here is a pleasant change. Slovenia is a quiet, peaceful and extremely beautiful country. There are different geographical attractions like mountains, beaches, farmlands, valleys and plains, all within the travel distance of at the most 3 hours. It is also a kind of middle grounds between western Europe and the Balkan region which makes travelling to both the sides quite easier. Most of the people here speak English and are helpful. The particular location of our university makes it comfortably close to Italy and so provides the opportunity to see some beautiful Italian cities including Venice, which is within a 2-hours’ travel time.
In short, I consider myself lucky to have got the opportunity to work at this university, along with an international staff in well established laboratories, while living in a peaceful and beautiful country. As their motto says, you do start “feeling Slovenia” after living here for some time.
Arun Ravindran, India, student of the 3rd-level study programme Physics, Graduate School, University of Nova Gorica and young researcher at the Laboratory of Quantum Optics, University of Nova Gorica