I just got back from Slovenia!
After four days staying in the home of my traveling companion's cousins, I started to pick up basic Slovenian much more quickly than I thought I would. Nothing too complicated, mainly "good morning", "thank you", and the like. But it was a lot easier than I initially thought. I also learned to read (or really "sound out") Slovenian writing extremely well, find cognates, and overall get a beginner's sense of the language in a very short time.
All of this whet my appetite for learning a Slavic language. Of course, Slovenian is a tiny language which is not terribly useful to me in my everyday life. I had fun in Slovenia, but I have no ties to that country or immediate plans to return to that part of the world.
So... if I liked Slovenian, what Slavic language should
I start looking at?
Russian would be the obvious choice, but one thing I like about Slovenian is the fact that it's written in Latin characters. This makes it easier for me to jump right into the language and start figuring stuff out through context.
Polish is written in (mostly) Latin characters, and there's a large Polish community here in New York. As people often walk up to me on the street and assume I'm Polish (weird), it could actually be somewhat useful.
But neither Russian nor Polish are actually all that closely related to Slovenian or the other South Slavic languages. And I'm probably overstating their utility in my everyday life. Maybe it would be better to study Czech? Or Serbo-Croatian (which is also written in Cyrillic)? Romanian, as it combines the Romance Language base I already know well with Slavic influences? Or just play with Slovenian if I like it so much?
Are there any great online/free-ish resources for English speakers studying Slavic languages? Should the existence of these in one language or another influence my choice? Since this is all a lark, I'd rather not fork over hundreds of dollars to study a language spoken by very few people which I will likely never actually use outside my capacity as a know-it-all.