New York – Victoria Vinokur, Real Estate Broker in Manhattan

Victoria is one of the first members of EuroCircle in New York City (since 1999). She has also kindly organized well-received real estate workshops for EuroCircle New York members.

Introduce Yourself.

My name is Victoria Vinokur. I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to the Midwestern United States in 1989. New York City was always an inspiration and the home of my heart and happily it has been my actual home for over 15 years. I live in Manhattan with my husband and son.

How long have you been working at your current firm?

I have been at my current firm, Halstead Property, LLC , since 2011. Prior to that I was affiliated with another one of the largest real estate firms in the city for about 10 years.

Describe the New York real estate market today.

High demand has the market in overdrive and it appears as though this year will be an especially dynamic one. Lower interest rates that allow buyers to borrow more, and the possibility of a rate rise in the near future, help to fuel the market. It’s a very exciting market but not for the faint at heart. I primarily focus on the real estate market in Manhattan, but in my experience working with clients from all over the globe and traveling to many top destinations, I find that prime location and product of high quality is always in demand. At a recent industry event that I attended, Gary Barnett, President and founder of Extell Development Company, described the current market as having “legs for the right product at a good price”. Compared to London, for example, New York is a value investment and there are just so many opportunities. It’s a very transparent market which benefits the client.

What would you tell someone looking to invest in New York Real Estate?

Manhattan is not like any market in the world or in the country for that matter.
Line up your “board of advisors” prior to buying and/or selling. Make sure to retain a proven and seasoned real estate broker, residential real estate attorney, accountant and/or mortgage professional or bank before putting your apartment on the market or making an offer on an apartment.
Follow your instincts; just because your friend invested in a neighborhood or a building, does not mean that investment is right for you. To quote Frank Sinatra, if you can make it here….

What are your favorite things about the Ukraine?

This is a difficult period in history to be speaking about Ukraine and I would like to take the politics out of the conversation. I can only speak about Kiev, the city where I was born. It’s a very beautiful city, very green, with wonderful architecture and warm and hospitable people.

When is the best time of the year to visit Kiev? What are some interesting places to visit in Kiev?

Anyone who was born in Kiev will tell you that the beginning of May, when the chestnut trees are in blossom, is the most beautiful time of year in the city. A visit to the Botanical Gardens and a walk through the Andreevskyy Spusk (Andreevskyy Descent) neighborhood to visit the birthplace of Mikhail Bulgakov are notable experiences. Kiev’s Opera House offers some of the most colorful and memorable performances in the world.

What is Ukrainian food like?

Ukrainian food is very hearty with a lot of meat and potatoes. Of course there is borscht, my favorite beet soup, and on occasion one complements it with a shot of vodka. Just like everybody who makes borscht, I have my own version of the recipe. Recently in New York, there was an opening of a Ukrainian restaurant called Taras Bulba, named after the novella by Nikolai Gogol. The East Village neighborhood of Manhattan has a number of Ukrainian restaurants such as Veselka B&H on 2nd Ave off St. Marks Pl is a true tiny gem.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do for fun in New York?

I absolutely love film, live music, arts, reading and pretty much anything and everything cultural New York has to offer. There is nothing more intoxicating than a stroll through the city on a beautiful Spring day – admiring the architecture and the people.

Could you share with us how you first found out about EuroCircle? How long have you been a member?

I have been a member pretty much since the very beginning in 1999. A friend of mine knew Kaisa and invited me to one of EuroCircle’s 1st events. At that time I was commuting between Chicago and New York for business and I suggested to Kaisa to perhaps start a EuroCircle chapter there as well. From then I introduced Kaisa to Maria Dollas who still runs the Chicago Chapter. I do remember flying to Chicago with Kaisa for the 1st EuroCircle Chicago event at the Redhead Piano Bar on 16 W. Ontario Str. It’s still there.

How can our members get in touch with you?

My mobile is +1.917.952.3452 or you can drop me an email at or look for me at one of the EuroCircle events. If you would like to receive a copy of my newsletter, please call me.

Connect with Victoria:
Victoria Vinokur @ Halstead
Call or text: +1.917.952.3452
Victoria Vinokur @ EuroCircle


Austin – Visionary Entrepreneur Alex Greystoke from UK in Texas

I was intrigued with Alex’s ideas after we met in February at the EuroCircle ‘s second Red Room Lounge event. There is something about the British accent which sounds so elegant (especially compared to yours truly with my Finnish accent). Alex also has a Law Degree from Cambridge University. Mine is from Finland.

Alex, you are originally from the UK? When did you move to Austin? We found you via EuroCircle if I recall correctly we met at the Red Room Lounge at a EuroCircle event?

Yes I am originally from the UK and moved to Austin December 2007. We met at the EuroCircle event.

Did you move with a spouse/children?

I moved with my wife and 6 month old child at that time.

Why did you move; what do you do so everyone knows that?

I moved because I fell in love with Austin when I did a Masters @ UT back in 1995. My wife and I decided we wanted to live in America when our daughter was born. We decided to do a road trip to decide where to live. She asked to see Florida, California and Boston – and I proposed Austin. She fell in love with Austin and we decided to move there. I intended to work from the swimming pool on my job as President of our schools in London and New York, financing companies through my corporate finance company and green energy. Events took over however and I founded two startups instead. Abercorn International School – a school focused on providing the best global education for kids 2 ½ to 11 years old – and Trip Champ an artificial intelligence and big data platform whose first implementation is an intelligent travel agent.

What do you enjoy most about Austin, now when you have more experience, how’s the quality of life compared to UK or where ever you moved from?

I love the climate (other than this last winter), the people who are warm, friendly, outgoing and above all entrepreneurial. I love the mix of people from all over the country and the World which came as a major surprise. I think there is a belief that in Austin anything is possible. The quality of life is much better than the UK – better weather, much cheaper cost of living, less crime, better public education and more entrepreneurial.

Usually there are some negatives, what are the ones for Austin that really stand out for you personally? What do you miss most about “home” what ever that means to you?

Downsides are less cultural attractions, less foreign cuisines (eg limited great Indian food), bad (too hot) climate in the summer and you cant walk around or take the tube. Also miss friends and family

Did you feel Austin is a good place for you as an entrepreneur right now? Are there any areas expats like you might like in the USA better than in the UK in your opinion (entrepreneurs? WHY?

Yes it is a great place for me as an entrepreneur. Austin is one of the areas, I also believe Boulder, San Francisco (because of the entrepreneurial scene) and increasingly places like New Orleans and New York city that are fast becoming entrepreneurial hubs.

I think the UK is fortunately at last recovering economically but the entrepreneurial spirit has not yet recovered from the recession. In many parts of the USA its alive and well.

What are the best places/suburbs to live in Austin in your opinion?

I love Lake Travis for the lake (or what was the lake), the increasingly good facilities – schools, the new hospital, the new library and convenient access to downtown.
I think Lake Austin is beautiful but unaffordable. Westlake is convenient but very pricey. Bee Caves is fast growing and relatively convenient. I have friends who love Tarrytown and if I was single with no kids I would live in downtown for the amenities.

Do you go out a lot – hobbies? Or is everything about work right now?

I try and go out on regular date nights – movies, broadway across America, opera, EuroCircle, dinners with friends. We also go to Fredericksburg for wines and occasionally to Houston or dallas for a night away. I also go to quite a lot of networking events.

What’s the cost of living compared to UK or other places you have lived in? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

Much cheaper than the UK. Taxes much less. Medical costs much more. Gas much less. Satellite tv, cell phones and broadband much more. Food less. Mortgages more but have long term fixed rates available here (rules much harder here to obtain a mortgage).

What are the Texans like compared to for example people in your last residence – do you notice any difference?

Generally more old fashioned manners eg “sir” or “maam” and more welcoming, less reserved.
Less globally travelled. Increasingly diverse but nothing compared to London which is a melting pot for people of all nations

Did you think it is easy meeting people and making friends in Austin?

Not as a couple with kids. Its getting easier with groups such as eurocircle, and mothers groups and networking groups and relocation advice and help but Austin is still a very badly networked city compared to London something which I hope will change in the next few years.

What’s the economic climate like in Austin, how would you compare it to other places? Why?

I think its very positive in Austin but is impacted inevitably by what is happening in the state and the country. I often say to friends Austin and Texas are doing well despite the government or despite the economy – how well could they do if these issues didn’t hold them back. I am very optimistic about the future for Austin. The UK has had a difficult few years economically but is now recovering strongly. Unfortunately I don’t believe the recovery is widespread – most of it is in London – nor is it broad based – much of it is housing based and is focused on the very rich. I am concerned about the long term outlook particularly with political instability and global uncertainty.

How does the work culture differ from UK? (health care, clothing, customs, women, manners, food, alcohol, hygiene etc)

Health care is effectively free in the UK for everyone but many people supplement it with private health care. Clothing is similar and customs are increasingly similar as the UK and indeed Europe becomes more Americanized. In the UK there is much more of a drinking culture – a lot of English people drink regularly after work and some drink regularly at lunch times. In terms of food the UK has had a renaissance with some great English food emerging but also significant success with foreign foods such as Indian food which have become the national dish.

The English and indeed Europeans take much longer holidays than Americans – six weeks paid or more and have much greater work benefits – eg long maternity leave, paid paternity leave, sick leave etc.

Did you have any misconceptions about Texas that have turned out to be super wrong….or vice versa, you thought something will be great and it is exactly the other way around?

Friends of mine had significant misconceptions and joked about me riding a horse to work which of course wasn’t true. I was concerned that it would be very conservative and although much of the state (Texas) is Austin isn’t. I was also concerned we wouldn’t fit in but we have. I was surprised by the number of different nationalities here and was particularly surprised to find other Brits.

Do you think your career (business) would be the same in UK – or does this work better for you? Either way, please explain more.

no I would probably not have started up a new startup in the middle of the recession let alone two. We already have a school in London and I can’t see having started up a school in Austin if I had stayed in the UK. Its just too distant. Likewise would I have had the courage to turn a crazy idea into a technology company that hopefully one day will compete with google – I doubt it. Austin made this happen – I met great people, some of whom believed and belief is critical.

What are your favorite restaurants/bars here in Austin (WHY) – and socially/workwise – what kind of networks do you attend to connect with people for business/personal life?

Hudsons on the Bend and Austin Land and Cattle and Trio at the Four Seasons
Happy hours with some of my network. A bit of capital factory.

Is there any advice you would like to offer new expats/entrepreneurs arriving at Austin?

Talk to a relocation agent, connect with the major incubators ATI, capital factory, tech ranch etc and try and make some core connections before you come. Network as much as possible when you get here

Anything else you would like to share with us?? Choose freely.

I think Austin needs better infrastructure not just in the core city but also in the suburbs. My hope Is that ultimately we build bullet trains to connect Austin, Houston and Dallas which will create a wealthy G7 country and can be financed out of Asia.

I also believe Austin can sort its water problems out with next generation water technologies and this will be essential if it is to continue to grow in years of drought. I believe there is a need for more kid focused activities and better museums but these will come I think.

There is also a need for more capital to come to Austin – there are a lot of startups but its still difficult raising money here. There is a real capital gap and if this is not addressed it will hamper Austin’s growth. I also believe Austin should offer more incentives for small businesses.

Connect with Alex:


Phoenix – Yulia Tokanina, Travel Lover from Russia

Tell us about yourself – who are you and what would be the short story of your life?

My name is Yulia Tokanina. I am originally from Russia and I moved to the USA 6 years ago. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with majors in International Relations and French. Moving to the USA was the beginning of different chapter in my life. I had to adjust to American culture and lifestyle. I moved to Phoenix one and a half years ago and I really like it here. I work for European travel company, that specializes in organizing tours for Europeans.

Why do you do the work you do – is that your passion or like most of the people it just happened?? What would you ideal job if you could do ANYTHING???

I do the work I do because it is definitely my passion. I had a chance to travel abroad and I plan to travel more in the future. Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by other cultures and traditions. I enjoy meeting people from different countries and learn more about them. I believe that my job is perfect for me in terms of using my foreign language skills, communicating with Europeans, making sure they have a great time exploring the USA.

If someone asked you what I should NOT miss while in Phoenix/Arizona, what would reply? And what I really SHOULD miss….

Well…I should not miss sunny and hot days while in Phoenix! I really should miss snow but I don’t

What do you miss most from your country ..…in addition to the family and friends?

Russian food! It is so delicious!

When you think about misconceptions we all have about cities/people/countries – what do you think you misjudged about USA/Arizona and what is what people usually misjudge about Russia?

I think a lot of times people tend to judge others coming from other country/ culture by stereotypes, which is wrong. People are different in general, no matter what country they come from, in my opinion. So, I guess it is important to learn to accept the differences especially when you live in the county, which is a “melting pot”.

What do you like doing in your free time??

In my free time, I like exercising, swimming, going out to different restaurants, traveling, watching movies, visiting art galleries/ museums, hiking.

What do you think about the cost of living in Russia vs Phoenix– and the standard of life and life style?

Well, it is difficult to compare cost of living in Russia and Phoenix. It depends on lifestyle, I guess. For example, Moscow is the most expensive city in Russia. It offers a lot of opportunities for young people to have a career and a nice social life, but cost of living there is probably comparable to New York.

If you could change something about Phoenix– what would it be?

I think Phoenix is a great southern city with unique nature and charm. In my opinion, it needs more culture, social events, festivals that would attract people, making it easier to make new friends.

Connect with Yulia:

Yulia at Facebook


Orange County – March 28 2014

Join us with your European friends and others who are interested in Europe for an IRISH NIGHT at Muldoons.
Login with your email and password to RSVP.

The next event will be on Sunday, April 13th in Irvine – a touch of France and Russia for all of us.

MOULIN RUSSE – French & Russian music – April 13th in Irvine
Lisa Kantor, the producer and one of the singers in Paris Chansons is doing her signature show, “Moulin Russe,” an unforgettable of French & Russian music in Irvine on April 13th.
They’ll be performing the passionate songs of Aznavour, Brel, Dassin, Macias, Kaas as well as some of the most beautiful Russian classics!
I am reserving tables for EuroCircle group to sit together if we pre-purchase tickets which are only $15. Tickets to be purchased in advance at
This is a great way to spend Sunday night, listen to beautiful European music and really get to know a few EuroCircle members

Let me know as soon as you have purchased your ticket/s online and I will add you to our table.

Patrick Charriou

Houston – March 26 2014

Come join us for a casual cool happy hour on the patio at 60 Degree Mastercrafted. Just opened last fall, the restaurant/bar offers high end beef. And it’s signature menu item – the $200 burger with an edible 24k gold bun – is for the adventurous and supreme meat lovers.

Note: EuroCircle members, extended happy hour specials last til 9 pm and complimentary appetizers will be served.

Invite your friends and we’ll see you there!

Shahla, MaryBeth & Houston Team

Orange County – Oct 09 2014

Let’s meet starting 6pm on Thursday 9th of October at the brand new French bakery and deli in Newport Beach:

1000 Bristol N
Newport Beach, CA 92660…n-newport-beach

Host: Patrick Charriou

San Francisco – Oct 09 2014


Does it still need a description?
This will be the Fourth Annual Euro Circle and NLBorrels present: Oktoberfest Part Vier!
German Music, German & Czech beer in Steins
Great Outdoor BBQ on the Street
Great German Decorations

Plus super geil specials all across the board!
We are pleased to announce that EuroCircle will present an Oktoberfest Party. Like last year the party will be hosted by Cafe Prague in a hidden alley downtown in the financial district. There will be plenty of Real Authentic German Beers and German Schlager music will be played. Some German Sausages will be provided to acquire a great taste for this traditional Bavarian Fest. 6:00-9 PM $4 Grilled German Sausages with Sauerkraut, Schnitzel, German potato Salad,Pretzels


Please use public transportation as drinking das Boot and driving your Volkswagen don’t match.

Music wil be for the first hour!
Schlager and Volksmuzik
Apres Ski Hut
Then for the remain hours!
so you can dance like SPROCKETS

TO Hang Decorations and Pass out Everybody’s German Name Tag from Heidi to Wolgang!

As always we can use help setting up a great German atmoshere so please email at if you to meet some great Europeans and create a wonderful ambiance See you there

The Event says it closes at 10:30PM however if there are over a 100 people screaming German Songs we will go onto Midnight!!!



Marc van Brabant

New York – March 25 2014

EuroCircle’s Welcome to Spring Party @ Hotspot EVR

Join us for a fun night as we celebrate spring at this midtown hotspot with great music and drinks.

There will be Eurotini’s on special throughout the night for $8
NO Cover when you say “EuroCircle” at the Door.

In addition to the drink special food is available for purchase.

Your host:
Sherry Kumar, Serbia

About EVR

EVR (Ever), a unique gastro-lounge located in the heart of Manhattan’€™s Empire District, is a sleek and sophisticated nightlife destination offering an exclusive interactive experience. Our neighbors include Bryant Park, the Fashion District and many of NYCs most prestigious financial and law firms The 5,000 square-foot, dual level space features two bars, an elevated DJ booth, a curated cocktail menu, created by expert in-house mixologist Orson Salicetti ,and delectable nouveau American cuisine. Combining industrial chic decor with cutting edge design elements including eclectic atmosphere lighting, vintage furniture, signature art installation and entertainment provided by world-class DJs, EVR brings the artistry back into nightlife with a high-energy milieu once thought only to exist Downtown to Midtown.

San Diego – Mira Mendoza, Ukrainian Beauty Makes San Diego Her Home

When I asked to interview Mira I did not know the situation in Ukraine will happen and I am very sorry it has gone the way it did. Having met people from both sides – I am relieved this is not happening in Finland. I am not sure how I would function knowing that my life as I know it is turning upside down.

Tell us about yourself – who are you and what would be the short story of your life?

I was born and raised in Ukraine. In 1995 I was fortunate enough to be selected for one of the first Student Exchange Programs between sister cities. My small town in Western Ukraine, Uzhhorod, was chosen as a sister city by Corvallis, Oregon. Every year 10 high school students are sponsored to come for 3 weeks to Corvallis to stay with American family. In exchange, 10 American kids come and stay with our families in Uzhhorod, Ukraine. Those 3 weeks in the US, as a 15 year old, made me fall in love with this country. After my return I continued studying English and seeking other exchange programs. Once again I got lucky, and in 1996 I was selected to study abroad in California for 10 months. The program was sponsored by the US organization Freedom Support Act and truly allowed me to experience the US. My host family, who were farmers, introduced me to a hard-working American farm life, and my small rural high school in Central Valley to American high school life, which included cheerleading, various field trips and a senior prom. I was allowed to graduate, even though I was only here for a year, which later gave me an opportunity to come back to college on a long-term student visa in August of 1998. Even though I had to leave my Law Program at Uzhhorod State Insitute, I have not regretted my decision to come to this country. 16 years later I am still here and now a proud American citizen.
After finishing my undergraduate degree at University of California, Santa Barbara, I lived for a few years in Oregon, and in 2006 moved to San Diego to start a graduate program at University of California, San Diego. I got my Masters in International Relations and the Pacific Studies and I have decided to stay in San Diego.
In terms of work, I am a big fan of startups and for the last few years I’ve been doing business development for two new companies, adaptiveARC, inc (renewable energy and Viaway, Inc. (International media platform,

What is THE thing about San Diego captivates you the most?

This is by far my favorite city in the US, mostly due to the weather and it’s proximity to the ocean, mountains, desert and Mexico. This city is catered to people who enjoy spending time outdoors. It allows you to play tennis in dozens of free tennis courts, to go surfing on many beaches, to jogging on the beach, to watching the most ridiculous sunsets. If you want some art and culture, you can take a stroll in our Balboa Park and visit over a dozen of great museums

If someone asked you what I should NOT miss while in San Diego, what would reply? And what I really SHOULD miss….

Wow, shouldn’t miss… the list is so long, I can go on and on. Beaches, Torrey Pines hikes, Balboa Park, Coronado, biking around the bay, best grilled fish tacos at Oscar’s, sunsets…
Should miss… may be our nightlife could be skipped, unless that’s what you love to do. But if that’s the case, you might be disappointed with our limited selection of great clubs, especially as a European you may not particularly love the club scene.

Anything truly memorable that has happened to you since you have lived in San Diego? What really annoys you about San Diego– or maybe nothing does?

Well, I have met my future husband and we are getting married in Baja California, Mexico in April of this year. I also became very involved in the local Ukrainian diaspora community through the House of Ukraine. I currently hold a position on their Board of Directors, which allowed me to be very active in the last few months with all the revolutionary changes that have been taking place in my homeland.
The only thing annoys me are tons of tourists in the summer.

What do you miss most from your country Ukraine…in addition to the family and friends? The current events in Ukraine must worry anyone from Ukraine – whether you are pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine.

I miss my culture, music, folklore, my language… Even though I am very fluent in English, I do feel like there are moments when I feel like I could express or feel something differently if it was said in Ukrainian.

The situation in Ukraine is definitely worrisome. I am very upset by recent events in Ukraine. I have many Russian friends, and this facts make it very difficult for all of us. I am really hoping for a peaceful diplomatic resolution to this conflict. We all do – where ever we come from.

When you think about misconceptions we all have about cities/people/countries – what do you think you misjudged about USA/San Diego and what is what people usually misjudge about Ukraine?

I don’t think I had any misconceptions about San Diego, I knew what I am getting myself into. About the US, may be it was the image of regular Americans that confused me. The superficial warmth and smiling always made me think Americans were the nicest people in the world, but after living here for over a decade, I realized that it is very superficial, and Americans are just the same as the rest of us.

Do you have a favorite San Diego/area restaurant? Why….what is the good and bad about restaurant culture in your opinion in San Diego..or the life style in general

Too many to list, but do really love all the wonderful fusion restaurants that we have. Latin meets Asian meets California, only here I’ve see those. My favorite area is where I live, North Pacific Beach/Bird Rock. Those are my favorite beaches and sunsets.

Who are the most famous Ukrainian people…when I think Ukraine I think some ballroom dancers and Mila Kunis, but can not easily recall many others though I am sure I’d know a name if you said some names!!

Definitely soccer player Andriy Shevchenko, and our famous boxer Vitali Klitschko Klitschko (now politician and potential Presidential candidate) made Ukraine famous among sports fans. Many people ask me about our feisty former Prime Minister and a current Presidential candidate YuliaTimoshenko. And some Europeans may remember Ukrainian pop-star Ruslana. Her song “Wild Dances” was the winning song in the Eurovision Song Contest 2004

By the way, how is the international/Ukrainian community in San Diego?? I think it is easy for us to think you must have a lot of Mexicans/Hispanic and Asians compared to Europeans.

So the Ukrainian community is not that large, especially if you compare it to Mexican, Chinese or Vietnamese. But we are fortunate to have cultural center through the House of Ukraine (one of the International cottages in Balboa Park). There are many more Russians here, but not too many people know that there isn’t Russian House. There are two Ukrainian churches that also bring some Ukrainians together. With the latest events more and more Ukrainian immigrants have been coming out and trying to get integrated into the local Ukrainian community, which is very nice. Last year I joined House of Ukraine’s Board of Directors and it allowed me to be a part of many fun events.

Where and how would you live if not San Diego if money is not an obstacle? I heard the real estate market is kind of difficult there. How expensive is it to rent or buy….and what are your favorite areas??

It is very expensive, especially if you want to live close to the coast, which we do… Will we ever be able to afford buying something that we like here, I don’t know, but we will do everything possible to do so.

What do you think about the cost of living in Ukraine vs San Diego– and the standard of life and life style?

Well, I never had to rent/buy in Ukraine, since I still lived with my family before I moved here, but I do know that it’s even harder to afford something in Ukraine. Many of my friends live at home into their 30s, married and with kids… The US is much much more affordable, due to fair wages. Ukraine is still very much behind, that’s why corruption is so prevalent. Wages are not sufficient for most ordinary folks to have adequate standards of living.

If you could change something about San Diego– what would it be? How about Ukraine??

About San Diego, I’d improve inadequate public transportation, which would reduce the traffic problems. For Ukraine I want democracy, freedom of speech and expression, and independence from outside interests, Russian or Western. I just want my country to be happy and free and an equal participant in this global world.

Anything else you feel you’d like to share with us about Yourself, Ukraine or San Diego??

I’d like to let all the non-English speakers know about the smart-TV platform I used to work for, Viaway. If they currently don’t have access to channels and movies in their native languages, this is a good place to look. We have German, Dutch, French, Polish, Romanian, Indonesian, Indian languages, etc. It’s like Netflix but for foreigners. Especially Russian and Ukrainian packages feature over 100 channels, and thousands of movies. If the readers connect through my link my link, they can get 2 weeks watching, otherwise free trial is only 3 days.

Connect with Mira:
Video by CBS about San Diego Ukrainian rally:


Vienna – Lucia Aronica, Young Italian Molecular Biologist Enjoys Life in Vienna, Austria

Tell us about yourself – who are you and what would be the short story of your life?

I am a molecular biologist grown up in sunny, chaotic Naples (Italy) and based in frosty, elegant Vienna (Austria).

What is THE thing/s about Vienna / Naples captivates you the most? If someone asked you what they should NOT miss while in Vienna what would reply? And what I really SHOULD miss….the only thing I recall about Vienna is that it was very beautiful, organized, great little cafes and lots of music.

The beauty of Naples lies not only in the sea and the sunshine, but also in the profound influence these wise elements seem to have on the its inhabitants. People in Naples share a deep knowledge of what life is all about: communicating with the world around us through the food we eat, the relationships we engage in, and the things we share with our close ones. This is what the sun and the sea whisper into our ears every day.
MUST DO IN NEPLES: Go and see the Amalfi coast, Positano and Capri. Eat a delicious pizza (Sorbillo is my favourite Pizzeria) and breath the endorphins in the air!
MUST NOT DO IN NAPLES: Don’t go there culturally unprepared. Most people are so scared by what they read in the contemporary news that they forget (or maybe ignore) the historical richness of the city. They see only garbage, and miss the hidden treasures.
Of Vienna, I love the imperial elegance and the perfect organization, which makes life so easy and enjoyable. I love the warm summer days spent on the Danube or on some lake nearby. I love the culturally charged atmosphere and the aristocratic touch of the city, which makes me feel like a princess on my own kingdom.
MUST DO IN VIENNA: Christmas markets in December and trips on the lake in summer. Opera, concerts, and theater events.
MUST NOT DO IN VIENNA: Don´t be slow in packing your grocery at the supermarket cash desks or the disgusted expression on the clerk face may ruin your mood for the rest of the day.

Anything truly memorable that has happened to you since you have lived in Vienna?

In 2009 I won a competition for science communication in German and represented Austria in the International award ceremony, where I was awarded the third price worldwide. It was a great achievement for me, as I could not speak any German when I first moved to Vienna. My mother still keeps the newspapers reporting the news.

Where and how would you live in Vienna or elsewhere if money is not an obstacle – compared to how you live now or would you stay where you are? Why?

I have a dream of moving to Australia. It is like one of those vague dreams children often have. Children often don´t have any clue of how what they desire will truly be. They just know it sound cool and they want it.
Actually I have some reasons for this childish dream. Australia is a sunny country, it is organized and scientifically stimulating. In one world, it has the good sides of Naples and Vienna, without the negative ones!

What is important to you in your life. For some people it is expensive cars, clothes, apartment, lots of free time, parties – for some others it may be having a spouse and kids. Someone once said to me that every day when she wakes up and there is no war – she is happy. What makes Lucia happy????

Being on the move, both physically and intellectually. Continuously engaging my mind and my body in new challenges. There is only one “static” thing in life, which is very important for me: relationships and family. These are the only things that stay still in my world. They are my anchor, the origin and destination of all my peregrine trips.

What do you consider as your biggest accomplishments career-wise and what are your further goals?

A big accomplishment has been for me contributing to understand some very interesting processes happening in the cells of our body. In particular, I have discovered important details on how cells turn genes on and off. This molecular “switch” is crucial for our health and is disrupted in many diseases.
In addition, I am very proud to help spread the message of science to the broad public by actively engaging in science outreach activities at museums and science centres ( Here I share my enthusiasm for research with young student to spark their interest in pursuing higher education (

You are extremely well-educated which sometimes means that career kills your personal life to some extent, how do you handle that?

Balancing work and life is for a scientist a very difficult challenge. The way I approach it is letting my work and life merge together, but without feeling sorry for that. I enjoy what I do and my work is part of my life. This doesn’t mean I have no personal life. I rather have an unusual, more holistic and less dichotomic idea of me as a person.

How would you like people remembering you? I am asking this as a friend of mine died this week of cancer and I had this discussion with you as he had thought about it quite a bit.

Many people want to be remembered for their achievements and positive sides. In contrast, people who truly love us tend to remember those small defects and big failures, which make us unique and adorable for them. This is the way I want to be remembered: as an imperfect human being, who has open his heart to other people, thereby transforming his manufacture defects into fine details of a memorable masterpiece.

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Video – Europe PubMed Central writing competition:
Video – Sexual healing in ciliates
Science clip 2013