29. 5. 2009

What expats in Brno say: two edged sword

David Belinko; born in Cairo, Egypt to a diplomatic family with background in both Russia and Spain. Raised as a youngster in Rio De Janeiro and schooled in France and England. He lived most of his life in Canada and studied in Washington Dc. Over the past 6 years David has lived in The Bahamas, the French Alps, St. Emillion, Mauritius Island, Lausanne Switzerland, and now in his favourite place of all...a sleepy little village 10 minutes from Brno.

What do you like and don't like in Brno?

It is very difficult for me to come up with dislikes about Brno; I have been accused however, on more than one occasion, of looking at life with rose coloured glasses. But the honest truth is that I enjoy the culture and size of this city immensely. If I was pressed for a dislike the only thing I could really come up with is that it appears to lack the multicultural diversity an individual such as myself would need.

I am fortunate that my career would allow me to live anywhere in the world; I chose to live here and I am very happy to report that after spending a year here (plus 2 years of commuting between Lausanne and Brno) that I have absolutely no regrets.

Do you know some "best practices" or experience from living in other cities which could be of use in Brno, too?

My first answer is a "double edged sword"; the most noticeable difference I have found between Brno and other cities is that there seems to be a lack of pressure put on the consumer on the part of salespeople that I have encountered. In other words; it almost appears as though nobody wants your business. I have found this in stores, and as well from companies offering big ticket items and services. Nobody calls you back to ask if a decision has been made to purchase, and in stores...well nobody tries to sell to me. I say this is a two edged sword because it is also refreshing to not be put under pressure (for a change) but sometimes a consumer needs help in deciding to buy or not to buy...and from whom. I believe that Brno will evolve and that service in stores restaurants and other providers will be a little more helpful...or aggressive.

I could also mention that in other (bigger cities) there is more animation in the streets during the summer months in particular; but Brno has those other cities beat in the winter months. Montreal has summer festivals with street movies and free concerts almost everyday of the week. Lausanne also has much in the way of activities and street events. The more touristy destinations, such as the Bahamas and Mauritius, have the locals embrace the foreigners in friendly conversation as a matter of habit. A warm hospitality that keeps the tourism industry alive with many repeat visits.

Signage is an important aspect in most major cities. In Brno...unless you are a local it is almost impossible to navigate the streets and roads. But all in all; Brno does a lot right...better than many cities that I have visited. In general; I would suggest a more concentrated effort to attract tourism, and to keep people coming back.

Where do you see the biggest potential of Brno?

Brno has the potential to be a tourist destination due to its proximity to major cities as well as its proximity to natural attractions in the region itself. One can enjoy the culture in Brno with its fine dining and great beer for a fraction of what one would expect to pay elsewhere. And; the historical sites, and nature in the region should be better exploited. My wife has taken me to so many great sites...I would love to share those experiences with family and friends when they visit.

Where do you see the way how to make Brno more attractive for foreigns?

Foreigners could feel more like a foreigner here than in most other cities. More diversity and options for foreigners to get together is needed. Enjoying stimulating conversation and friendship and ones native language would be a paramount step for the quality of the life of a foreigner. Your site does the expat community a very great service.

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