Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

– article by Fenna Riethof

Not standing out was the norm in Buenos Aires

The hot topic in Argentina in 2002 was undoubtedly the marriage of Máxima Zorreguieta to Prince Willem Alexander. The new Argentine princess couldn’t hold back her tears during a musical rendition of the Argentine tango – tender and touching. It put the tiny European country that nobody had heard of well and truly on the map. Julieta Talamoni (24) was seven at the time, but remembers it well. She also remembers that not long afterwards, her father accepted a job in that tiny country.

“My parents had been considering leaving Buenos Aires for some time; these were nervous times. People went everywhere by car because that felt safer. My brother, sister and I were taken to school by car, you couldn’t go to the supermarket on your own and you had to hide expensive jewellery if you ventured onto the street. Not standing out was the norm.”

Julieta’s parents went to the Netherlands on holiday together first to get an impression of the country and what it was like to live there. “They loved it”, says Julieta. “You could walk wherever you wanted and even bike to work. The average working day was shorter than in Argentina too. We only really saw my father on Sundays and now this was set to change.”

The family emigrated in 2003 when Julieta was nine. They found a house in Nieuwegein. When they arrived, it turned out to be fully furnished: a moving-in gift from her father’s new colleagues. The neighbours were very welcoming too. Julieta can’t remember much about their first year. “I think I’ve deleted it, because it was so difficult. Apparently I did nothing but cry and scream for the first few weeks and my parents were seriously worried that they’d made the wrong decision. But I settled down in the end.”

Julieta studied Spanish and has been teaching at a lyceum in Utrecht for the past year. Her graduation project into conversation skills earned her the Onderwijstalentprijs (a teaching talent prize) in 2017. She lives in a studio flat in Nieuw Engeland and loves Utrecht. “I like small cities in Spain too – I prefer Girona to Barcelona.”

In 2015, Julieta spent a few months in Argentina. Looking through adult eyes, she saw how different life in Buenos Aires still is. She attended a reunion with her classmates from primary school. “Studying there was tough. They left for university by car early in the morning and didn’t get home until late in the evening. But despite their impressive CVs, they can’t find work.” Julieta didn’t say much about her life in the Netherlands. “Emigrating has made me feel privileged… not everyone has the chance to leave.”

Julieta felt both at home and like a stranger in Argentina; she was ‘that Dutch woman’ and the conversations always started with Máxima and football. In the Netherlands, she’s ‘that Argentinian woman’. She rather likes this. “I’m proud of my roots. But when it comes down to it, what is identity? You create it yourself through the things you’ve done and the places you’ve been to. I spent three months studying in Oxford and three months in Alicante (Spain). These experiences have made me who I am too.” Julieta can be herself in Utrecht. “It’s how this city works. Take Kanaalstraat, for example, where I do my shopping every Sunday. The diversity you see there enriches the entire city.”

Name: Julieta Talamoni
Place of birth: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date of birth: 2 March 1994
Motto: ‘Smile at someone every day’

Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.

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