What expats say: Growing center of science and technology

Sergiy Kyrylenko came to Masaryk University in July 2009 from the University of Kuopio, Finland. He was born in Ukraine and graduated from Shevchenko Kyiv University. His current project is funded by ESTOOLS, a European consortium for stem cell research. Sergiy is experienced at working abroad, as he has lived and worked for various periods of time in Ukraine, Finland, Germany, Russia, Georgia, etc.

What do you like and what don’t you like in Brno?

What I like in Brno is almost everything. The principal thing that makes me like Brno is that Brno is not a popular tourist destination but a growing center of science and technology. Its splendid geographical location is avoided by crowds of lazy tourists (which luckily prefer to go to Prague, Vienna or Budapest, etc. situated elsewhere), while it attracts creative newcomers and gives its own inhabitants easy access to a lot of local fascinating places as well as to major European attractions.

In particular, I like the locals, who are friendly and open to foreigners. Very efficient, robust and affordable public transportation. Nice shops with good service. I also like the weather conditions here so far. To me, food here is very tasty and diverse, and inspires me for a lot of creative cooking fun. I also like to just walk around with a map; I would call it “city hiking” and dare to recommend it to others.

What I don’t like in Brno? It is always shocking to see “tabac” signs everywhere and – probably connected to that – people smoking a lot in public places. The pavements are not always perfect; not always connected enough and without enough comfortable sidewalks. There are relatively many traffic accidents. And a relatively heavy bureaucracy with few English speaking and customer-oriented personnel. Well, there are a few things here which are not quite likeable but it is all understandable. What do we expect from a former Russian colony only 20 years ago?

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

In the city of Oulu in Finland I learned that the average time of stay for foreign specialists was substantially increased when their family members got professional management in order to keep them socially engaged if they were not employed. Therefore, the city economics benefited a lot overall from that relatively small investment.

And, as I’ve alredy mentioned, promoting the physical activity of inhabitants by building a wide net of connected sidewalks and bicycling routes seems like a relatively minor investment with a major return in the form of health benefits and an active lifestyle with a creative way of thinking.

What do you think is its advantage compared with other cities?

Its geographical location, which attracts active pople while avoiding lazy homo touristicus. Positive economic and social trends. The active development of science and technology. Its position in between the beer region to the North and the wine area to the South. Then, my feeling is that people here do not show signs of over saturatation and apathy. It is not an absolute state of welfare but rather favorable dynamic trends that create positive feelings in society, and to me that is exactly what Brno has.

Where do you see the way to make Brno more open and attractive for foreigners?

By doing away with all the unappealing things. In particular, the training of personnel. Easier banking. More lit routes for walking and running with good quality pavements and easy signs showing directions and distances. The promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle. But the most crucial is the attitude of the foreigners themselves. Newcomers must be educated about the recent history of the region. And once they get fully aware of where Brno and the Czech Republic were in the very close Communist colonial past, they would be more open for a full appreciation of the enormous progress of this region as well as of its potential. And this for sure would warm up their feelings.

What is your favorite place in Brno which is really unique?

I’m probably not sure about being that “really unique”, but the park around Anthropos Pavilon with its Cerna Hora coffee feels homey and I just like it. I also like to take walking tours both within the city and around. Every place is unique, just try to appreciate it!

Written by: Petr Marčišák

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