Interview with Laura from Empower Studio, Brno.
Hi Laura, thank you for your time and for answering my nosy questions.
How long have you been in the Czech Republic?
Me, my husband, our 3 years old son, and our 2 chihuahuas moved to Brno in January 2013.
Why did you choose Brno?
I didn’t choose Brno. Brno chose us. My husband received a job offer here in Brno and we thought that the Czech Republic could be a good place to live. We’ve never been here before, we just moved one day.
How have you settled in?
At the beginning, we spent three weeks in a hostel... my husband went to work every day while me, my 3 years old son and our 2 small dogs stayed at the hostel with tons of our luggage. It was January 2013… probably the coldest winter that I’ve experienced in Brno. It was very cold and snowy so we didn’t have the chance to get out of the hostel very often. It was a very tough period.
Then we moved into a 12th floor panelák apartment in Řečkovice. I loved it! Things are different now. We live in the center, our son goes to základní škola and I’m self-employed… so many things have changed indeed!
Slowly, we adapted to Czech mentality, behavior and the system which are somewhat different from the Italian one. Many things are better here. The social system, health system, transportation. The only negative point is the attitude of Czech people. They are not very warm and welcoming at first contact. And also food, considering I’m a vegan. So I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which are unfortunately of poor quality here.
Do you speak any Czech?
My son started to attend Czech school at 3 years old, now he is 10 and in the 4th grade. He speaks fluently. My husband and I speak Czech poorly but we put effort into it every time we try. It’s a very hard language to learn.
And where did you learn English?
I started learning English at school, when I was 10 years old. The Italian school system doesn’t incorporate many foreign languages into the curriculum (I think I had a couple of hours a week dedicated to English in high school as well). I mostly learnt the language from TV, and watching movies with subtitles. I also watched make up and fitness tutorials on You Tube. But when I first came here, my English wasn’t too good to be honest.... I improved a lot just by practicing day by day.
What do you do here in Brno?
I worked in corporate for 4 years, and then I decided to turn my passion into my job. I obtained a fitness instructor certificate and I’ve recently opened my business. I have my own fitness studio in the center of Brno and I do online consultations as well, especially during this lockdown.
How are you dealing with the lockdown?
When I started my business, the original plan was to have clients more in the physical studio than virtually. This lockdown situation forced me to change my approach so now I spend most of my working time on social media promoting myself. It’s not easy. Partly because my son is at home all the time and when he sees me behingthe computer he supposes I’m having fun, while I’m actually working. I must say I’m very lucky because I have the studio inside our apartment so I can spend my time exercising alone or with my boys. Honestly, I kind of enjoy this lockdown situation. I’m less stressed; I take it easier and the days are quieter because I don’t rush so much. I have more time to stop, think and to develop my ideas. But of course I miss the sun, my friends and my family in Italy. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to visit them or when they’ll be able to visit us.
What do you recommend to people who want to learn another language?
Practice, practice, practice. I was very shy at the beginning. I was more concerned about my English pronunciation than the grammar and content, but it’s wrong. Even if your accent is not perfect, the importance is that people understand you. It’s always great to practice talking as much as possible.
Long story short: when I worked in corporate I was a soft skills trainer and for a project I delivered virtual training to people in US. At the end of the cycle I apologized for my strong Italian accent. They replied that they actually enjoyed a lot the training both for the content and for my pleasant accent. We are scared of talking in a foreign language but the truth is that people who are listening to an exotic accent enjoy the effort and the diversity! This applies to Czech language as well, when I speak Czech, people smile at me more!
Thank you for your time Laura. All the best in your endeavours.
You can find Laura here: