Internationals about Utrecht (5): Julio
Studying: Artificial Intelligence
From: San Diego, United States
First studied: At the University of Vermont
Lives: in a student home in Rotsoord.
‘It’s so clean here’
“Utrecht might be a big city, but there’s a certain calmness here. It’s small, making it picturesque and convenient. Amsterdam is too big, too hectic; whenever I cycle there, I have to ring my bicycle bell a few times, otherwise I’ll hit people. Utrecht is manageable. I think that calmness in the city also comes from the fact that not everything is always open 24/7. Thankfully it’s never dark in the streets at night, but we don’t have many extremely bright neon lights either.
“Another thing that I was pleasantly surprised by: the health care system. A while back I had to make an appointment at the general practitioner. How fast they had room for me… that would never go as smoothly in the United States, unless there’s an emergency. One thing I do notice: you’d get treatment a lot faster in the US than here. Here, the doctor often says: ‘We’ll just wait for a bit first’. But it still feels great that they have time for you so quickly. That they truly look at you.”
‘I’ve only seen the inside of five restaurants’
“Living in the city is expensive here, though. I’m not eating out much. Even the McDonald’s is more expensive than in the US. And good luck finding good, affordable sushi here. I’m not someone who lives very frugally, but I haven’t gone out to dinner much either. I’ve been here for eight months now, and I’ve only seen the inside of five restaurants so far.
Generally, I feel very welcome in the city, but there are still moments when I think: hmmm, I feel like people are annoyed with all the internationals here. I was on my bike a while ago, talking to someone else, when a random guy came to me and said, ‘learn Dutch’. He said it in Dutch – so I didn’t understand him. I think there are probably more people who think like that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it here. Utrecht is a paradise.”
When my family visits…
“I’m a huge fan of the Botanical Gardens, I can enjoy myself for a while there. I would take my friends and family there, but we’d definitely go there by bike. Because while you’re cycling, you can really taste the characteristic Utrecht atmosphere – although I’d probably have to explain some things, because cycling here can be highly dangerous. I’d take them to my favourite Argentinian grill restaurant, Los Argentinos, at the Oudegracht aan de Werf, and I’d point out the UFO on the Inktpot building at the Moreelsepark. I think it’s fascinating. At the end of the day, I’d take them to sit on the Neude, and let city life pass us by.”