Rolling remote with Giulia Zeni

An Italian expat living in Berlin, Giulia teaches Italian to students from all over the world. Through her site Speak and Travel Italian, she offers online and in-person lessons, publishes a weekly podcast, and provides her students with supplemental listening and speaking exercises.

When she’s not chatting with people from all over the world in Italian, she takes advantage of the flexible, remote work lifestyle by spending time with her new son Filip or traveling back to Italy. Below she shares a peek inside her international, language-driven lifestyle.

Giulia getting ready to teach a class while Filip offers moral support | Submitted by Giulia Zeni

Quick-fire profile

How many years have you worked remotely? 5 years

Where are you based? Berlin, Germany and Pordenone, Italy

Where do you spend most of your remote work hours? Anywhere at home: kitchen, bedroom, living room. Occasionally, at somebody else’s place if they have a quiet room and a good Internet connection.

Are you most productive in the morning or at night? Early bird

Coffee or tea?  I really love both, but at different times. Coffee before teaching, tea or water while teaching. (If you speak a lot, you also need to drink quite a lot, and a cup of coffee—or espresso, I should say—just isn’t enough.)

A peek into Giulia’s minimal home and work space. | Submitted by Giulia Zeni

Giulia’s home office setup and decor

What type of desk do you use?

Traditional sitting desk

What type of chair do you use while at work?

Whatever seat’s available at home, sometimes the floor, the couch, or a yoga ball.

What features do you like most about your home office or work space?

I love to work from my apartment because it’s very bright (we’re on the third floor). I love the kitchen side of the apartment because of all the trees outside. It’s almost like being surrounded by a forest. I also like the fact that there are few objects and minimal furniture; it’s pretty easy to tidy it up so I can work in a clean space.

Do you share your work space with anyone? Tell us about them!

I prefer to be all alone in a room while I’m teaching, but I occasionally teach with my 4-month old baby in a sling or on my lap. He seems to like having his elbows on the desk and can be part of the conversation in Italian.

Remote work pros and cons: Giulia’s take

What are the biggest pros and cons of remote work for you?

I love being able to travel and still keep working. That’s what I do when I go back to Italy to visit family and friends, for example.

My favorite part of my job are my students. I just love them and rather see some of them as friends. They’ve taught me so much about the U.S. (most of them are Americans), about other ways of living, and even about my country! As a matter of fact, some of them know Italy better than I do. They’ve spent so much time visiting various regions and learning about local traditions. As an expat living in Berlin, I love to hear their stories about Italy and be reminded of how beautiful my country is.

The only things Giulia needs to do her job are her website, her laptop, and a pair of headphones. | Submitted by Giulia Zeni

Working from home tips and tricks

What software technologies do you use on a regular basis?


What habit allows you to be more productive during the day?

I guess I’d have given a different answer before I became a mom, but since August, I have very few habits and am learning to be flexible. However, I wouldn’t be able to work without my eight hours sleep—either during the night, if Filip allows it, or when he’s taking a nap. I’ll join him for a snooze and recharge my batteries!

What are the 3 items you can’t live without while working remotely? (If you have a brand you love, please name them!)

  1. I really don’t need anything to work apart from my laptop and headphones.
  2. My husband’s old ZOOM recorder (now mine) to record my podcast.
  3. Needless to say I also can’t live without books, which is possibly why I do this for a living in the first place!

Answers have been lightly edited and links were added.

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